Angus & Robertson
ISBN 10: 1460705467
On Sale: 24/07/2017
List Price: 7.99 AUD
In 1897 Angus & Robertson published their first fiction book which was a children’s book describing Australian family and school life – another first. Louise Mack was a contemporary and friend (most of her life) with Ethel Turner and both attended Sydney Girls High School. Louise Mack had a rather bohemian upbringing and went on to live an even more eccentric adult life but her portrait of Lennie Leighton’s family and school life is anything but that. Considered to be loosely autobiographical it would appear that Louise created an alternate childhood for herself and re-invented her family life.
This commemorative edition reproduces the original faithfully with its black and white line drawings. As someone who grew up reading every Louisa May Alcott, Susan Coolidge and Ethel Turner, it was a joy for me to revisit a time when life for girls seemed so much simpler. Also as a Sydney girl it was a pleasure to connect with the setting of a time long gone.
Lennie Leighton, our main character, has just turned thirteen and been accepted on a scholarship to Sydney Girls High. Having been taught at home with her younger sisters this is a huge adventure for her. A loving father and mother, older brother and the three littler girls comprise a family that is supportive and full of fun. Now Lennie is ready to expand her world and as she does makes a true friend with Mabel (supposedly a composite of Ethel Turner and other girls). The story exudes warmth and joy in pleasures no longer considered fashionable and while it was the first book written in Australia specifically for ‘teenagers’ (long before that word was coined) it presents a very sharp contrast to modern life.
This is truly a delight to read and as I know many girls favour period books – look to the enduring popularity of Anne! – there will be many who will find this as charming as I do.
This edition includes a short biography of Louise Mack at the close and will give the reader some real insight into a writer who has, at times been overlooked in our children’s literary history.
I highly recommend this to you – girls from around ten upwards will enjoy its fresh and innocent look at a time in Australian history when there was far less ugliness in society.