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When Gough Whitlam moves into her street in Cabramatta in 1957, eight-year-old Christine has little idea how her new neighbour, one of the most visionary and polarising political leaders of Australia, would shape the direction of her life. Born to working-class parents and living in a fibro house built by her truck-driver father, Christine simply dreams that one day she might work as a private secretary like her aunt.
But when the reforms Whitlam championed give Christine the chance to go to university, her world expands. She experiences the transformative power of education, struggles to balance motherhood with being the family breadwinner, and faces her own mental health battles. She follows a path forged by Whitlam, from scholarships he fought for, to local community initiatives he generated, and even as far as China, where Whitlam crucially initiated Australia’s relationship when he visited the country in 1973.
Written with genuine heart and humour, Gough and Me is a nostalgic and deeply personal memoir of social mobility, cultural diversity, and the unprecedented opportunities that the Whitlam era gave one Australian working-class woman.
The Changing Room has been shortlisted for an award in the Society of Women Writers NSW 2020 Members’ Book Award in the category of Fiction for your book. To learn more about THE SOCIETY OF WOMEN WRITERS NSW, visit: www.womenwritersnsw.org
Wombats, platypus, turtles, magpies, koalas, goannas, cockatoos, bilbies, kangaroos, banksias, flannel flowers, bushfire, rain, ferns, snails, spiders, glow worms, pelicans, flying foxes, cicadas, lyrebirds, butterflies, possums, owls, kookaburras . . .
In this varied collection, poems and stories about bushfire and resilience, surprising encounters with native wildlife, information about the natural world, together with articles about endangered species are complemented with drawings by young artists living in NSW.
Enjoy nature writing by SWW NSW members and guests, including: Michele Bomford, Jacqui Brown, Kylie Day, Carolyn Eldridge-Alfonzetti, Beverley George, Susanne Gervay, Samantha Goyen, Libby Hathorn, Pippa Kay, Colleen Keating, Dorothy Keyworth, Hester Leung, Sophie Masson, Sema Musson, Mary Anne Napper, Liz Newton, Vanessa Proctor, Susan Ramage, Joanne Ruppin, Pamela Rushby, Margaret Ruckert, Rita Shaw, Pat Simmons, Carmel Summers, Christine Sykes, Julie Thorndyke and Decima Wraxall.
‘Do we have heads so cockatoos have something to rest on? Are lyrebirds really trying to fool us? Why do we have Easter bilbies not bunnies? How are our coral reefs changing? What do birds pray for? Do you like poems and stories about the bush? I’d be surprised if you didn’t. Get yourself a copy of this book – if necessary find an adult to do it for you – and find somewhere cosy to sit. You won’t regret it.’
— Dr John Vallance, NSW State Librarian
‘Engaging young people in stories of our wildlife challenges them to become protectors of the world.’
— Susanne Gervay OAM
- How does the title The Changing Room relate to the book?
- What do you think the author’s purpose was in writing the book?
- Did the structure of the novel (chapters divided into individual perspectives of the three main characters) enhance or detract from the narrative?
- Did the book change your opinion or perspective about any of the social issues raised?
- The service Suitability was based on a real charity (called Dress for Success). Did the book enhance your knowledge and understanding of such an organisation?
- Do you think Claire and Anna overstepped the boundaries of their volunteer roles with their support for Molly? Are you aware of any similar situations?
- The book follows the emerging friendship of 3 different women united through a common cause. How did this friendship develop? Was their friendship plausible?
- The author used dialogue in a particular way to further develop character. Was this an effective technique?
- If you could pick a character from the book to have coffee with, who would it be and what would you talk about?
- What social issues were highlighted in the book and how do you think the author has portrayed the key social issues facing women today?
- The book explores the issue of domestic violence. What insights does it provide to this social problem?
- Despite their differences in age and social class, what similar experiences bring Anna, Claire and Molly together?
- What did you think of the ending of the book?
- Can you envisage the circumstances of each character 5 years on from the end of the novel?
- The city of Sydney is the backdrop for the book. How has this setting influenced the narrative?
- Do you agree with Rosemary when she says that ‘women should be able to wear what they want’ What have been your experiences with wearing what you want?
- What clothes do the main characters wear in the beginning of the novel and did they change?
- Did you learn about fashion, style, make-up from reading the book? Do you have any tips to share?