Dolly Maunder was born at the end of the nineteenth century, when society’s long-locked doors were starting to creak ajar for women. Growing up in a poor farming family in country New South Wales but clever, energetic and determined, Dolly spent her restless life pushing at those doors.
Most women like her have disappeared from view, remembered only in family photo albums as remote figures in impossible clothes, or maybe for a lemon-pudding recipe handed down through the generations. Restless Dolly Maunder brings one of these women to life as someone we can recognise and whose struggles we can empathise with.
In this compelling new novel, Kate Grenville uses family memories to imagine her way into the life of her grandmother. This is the story of a woman, working her way through a world of limits and obstacles, who was able—if at a cost—to make a life she could call her own. Her battles and triumphs helped to open doors for the women who came after.
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‘There is no doubt Grenville is one of our greatest writers.’
‘[Grenville] is a gift of a writer.’
‘Nobody writes historical fiction like Kate Grenville. Again and again she has brought history—both the official records and the messy tensions in the margins—to life…Women like Dolly Maunder rarely make it into the history books. Here, she’s honoured by one of our best.’
‘Grenville uses exacting research to imagine her way into the life of another—this time a woman she once feared, and with whom she appeared to have come to some understanding.’
‘…the writing sparkles with Grenville’s gift for transcendently clear imagery…a work of history, biography, story and memoir, all fused into a novel that suggests the great potential of literary art as redeemer, healer and pathway to understanding.’
‘Grenville’s quiet and insightful prose makes this book a joy and an inspiration to read.’
‘Grenville’s achievement in this deeply moving book is that in resurrecting the woman behind her grim-faced grandmother, she’s given us insight into a generation too easily dismissed as archaic, narrow-minded, inflexible and slightly ridiculous. Yet again, she’s transformed faded history into something pulsing and alive.’
‘Family memoir and reimagined history dovetail beautifully in Restless Dolly Maunder.’