An unexpected letter from her childhood friend Grace forces May to relive their extraordinary past and confront the events that drove them apart fifty years earlier.May's father won the Diamond Anchor, a dilapidated pub perched on the ocean's edge, in a game of cards - a gamble which positioned her at the heart of the close-knit community for seventy years, and gave her cuAn unexpected letter from her childhood friend Grace forces May to relive their extraordinary past and confront the events that drove them apart fifty years earlier.May's father won the Diamond Anchor, a dilapidated pub perched on the ocean's edge, in a game of cards - a gamble which positioned her at the heart of the close-knit community for seventy years, and gave her custody of its stories.Now, trying to maintain a careful balance between the demands of the collapsing building and her own solitary life, May must decide whether to reach out to Grace, whose health is fading, or let her go.With all the humour and storytelling of small-town life, The Diamond Anchor is a brilliant tale of the places and relationships that define us....
|Title||:||The Diamond Anchor|
|Number of Pages||:||384 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Diamond Anchor Reviews
Beautiful, understated writing. Loved this book. Here's my interview with the author, Jennifer Mills, whom you'll find on Goodreads.http://www.stevedow.com.au/default.as...As a writer who evokes so well a spirit of place and the urge to stay put, Sydney-born Jennifer Mills is surprisingly quite the nomad. For 18 months while shopping around her first novel to publishers, she lived out of her EH Holden near Alice Springs or house sat for friends. While writing The Diamond Anchor, set over a half century post-World War II in the fictional town of Coal – closely based on the NSW Illawarra region – Mills lived in a shed, and now that she’s working on her second novel has upgraded to a caravan, a curious place to spend a baking hot Central Australian summer. If her life is itinerant, that’s partly financial, being reluctant to hold down a day gig when she would rather devote herself full-time to writing. Her last job – casual shift-work as a social worker at a refuge for women, mostly indigenous, who have suffered domestic violence – was also emotionally draining. The allure of Alice Springs is partly the feeling of it being “another country, or someone else’s country”, says Mills, referring to Aboriginal people. “You very much can’t hide from colonialism and from all the social conflicts of Australia. I find that aspect of it really challenging. “But I also love the physical environment – the waterholes and the ranges, and the changes in light. I feel as if I’ve grown to learn how this country works – I’m only just beginning to learn – I think I’m falling more and more in love with it.” While she has a strong interest in indigenous culture, she is careful not to presume knowledge: on her web blog at jenjen.com.au, she satirises do-gooder white fellas pontificating on the lives of blacks. “Earnest hippies,” she calls them. At 31, Mills, who grew up in Turramurra on Sydney’s North Shore, is keen to stay around Alice, even if it means being far away from Australian agents and editors on the eastern seaboard. Yet her choice of home is not such a handicap: her publisher, University of Queensland Press, was only the second to look at Mills’s manuscript, seizing on the young emerging talent’s first major work after she had short stories published in Griffith Review, HEAT and Best Australian Stories 2007. Mills’s first novel evokes the Illawarra, where she previously lived for a couple of years. The Diamond Anchor is set against a background of the 1949 Australian coal workers’ dispute, when the Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, sent military forces in to break the trade union strike. Mills believes you would have to live in the Illawarra for decades to truly feel like a local, but she managed to absorb the oral tradition of history through the pub culture. “Some of the stories in The Diamond Anchor are taken from my research [on the area and the coal strike], and some of them are taken from eavesdropping in the pub,” she laughs. One character, Jack, a union organiser and rusted-on communist – immune to criticism of his ideology – is based on a composite of people Mills knew from her activist days in Sydney in her early 20s. “I think I’ve always had a very strong sense of social conscience,” she says. “I’ve probably got an overdeveloped feeling of responsibility for the world, maybe.”Mills describes her own political leaning as anarchist, though after earlier years of opposing globalisation through protests most of her overt politicking today is confined to the odd anti-nuclear campaign in Alice Springs, fighting a company exploring for uranium to mine there. But in her first novel, art trumps politics. Essentially, The Diamond Anchor is a secret love story: ultimately a sad one, about finding your other half only to lose them for 50 years. The central relationship is between childhood girlfriends May – who stands to inherit the town’s pub from her parents and wants to stay put – and Grace, who desperately wants to make a new sophisticated life in the city. Mills provides a deft, subtle touch in the vernacular between the two women; writing about same-sex love in an era when such affections were difficult to articulate, let alone make public. “For me growing up in Sydney, I have very much a language for all that stuff,” says Mills. “But for May and Grace, they didn’t even have words for what their relationship meant. And so their conversations are kind of stilted, or they’ll talk around it. “They speak to each other through poetry or other stories, because they can’t speak directly about their love.” Mills was born in 1977, in what she calls a reading family. Her father Peter was an engineer and her mother Margaret was a nurse, who also paints. At the age of six or seven, she started making little stapled books of poetry and short stories; today she still creates the odd “zine”, available through her website. “There’s a respect for the arts in my family and there were always tonnes and tonnes of books around the house. I read all the Russian novels and Patrick White when I was a teenager.” Mills is re-reading White’s Voss at the moment, “and I’m loving it. White was funny – people forget that about him”. She began writing her own book alternating between May and Grace’s voices, but ultimately settled on writing almost entirely in May’s voice; an interesting choice given Mills has more the restless soul of a Grace. Perhaps, she agrees, she was interested in getting inside the head of someone who wants to settle down where they were born. “I guess I’m trying to deal with how my generation, as very transient people, build a sense of home and belonging,” she says. Her second novel, in progress, will be a dark tale about a hitchhiker; a few years ago Mills thumbed lifts while travelling through Europe, Turkey and the United States. “I came back to Australia and knew I didn’t want to live on the east coast again; I wanted to do something different.” That was three years ago and Mills has been in Alice Springs ever since, “and it’s home, it’s very much home now”. It might appear Mills’s politics have also moved on, but not really. “When I started writing full-time, I felt guilty almost about abandoning that activist side of things and that urgency to change the world. But I’ve come full circle to realise that writing is a kind of activism as well. “Books can change the world, and I have a lot of faith in literature and in good writing to help people get through hard times and to inspire people to think differently and to help people imagine a better world. I think that’s my job.” The Diamond Anchor is published by Queensland University Press, $32.95.
Mills is an exciting new Australian talent. This is set on the area of NSW coast between Sydney and Wollongong (before the new road was built that changed these communities and took them out of their isolation). The Diamond Anchor is a pub, but it also the anchor of May’s life which has remained within the confines of her small community – but is she the poorer or the richer for it? It is also a story of the love between two women – Grace and May have instinctively recoiled from their sexual relationship because of the taboos of the day. The story moves its way towards a rather predictable revelation but also towards the possibility of redemption. I enjoyed this very much.
This book had potential, but it is in need of serious culling. I found myself losing interest after one too many long overstayed trips down memory lane. The main character was so caught up in her memories that practically nothing at all happened in the present. I also didn't find her to be a believable 70 year old, neither did I believe her relationship with Grace to be anything worth the 384pages written about it; it felt cold to me.
A friend gave this to me to read, therefore I was obligated to read on to the end. What a yawn. Was only a few hundred pages but it's taken me a month to finish. so slow and uneventful! I kept losing interest. Actually, i didn't ever get interested. It never took off, there was no major plot lines. Well, I guess there was but it amounted to nothing. Boring.
This is a beautiful story of memory, friendship and love - a love that neither Grace nor May, growing up in 1940s Australia, has a language for. Mills's subtle, evocative writing is well worth the effort; reading The Diamond Anchor is like sinking into a calm sea of beautiful, assured prose.
Still reading it. Thought I'd find authenticity but I'm not sure what is in here. I'm struggling to go back to it.
A beautiful story of a woman connected to the land (well, her patch of land - her home) and her relationship told in retrospect