Finally I am in a Book Club and have attended my first meeting this week. The book we read and discussed was Wicked but virtuous by Mirka Mora. It is an autobiography of the Melbourne artist. As someone who formally studied art and design in Melbourne I was embarrassed to admit not knowing of either her or her work. Having said that I discovered she is probably as good an artist as she is a writer, and that is “poor” in my opinion. The book was more of a memoir in the style of an unedited stream of consciousness. It lacked detail, information, and insight into her life and relationships. It was pretentious and parasitic in the way she loved to name-drop.
I know of and really admire the work of other great Australian female artists such as Margaret Olley, Margaret Preston, Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith. These were artists of substantial talent and contribution. Stravinsky’s lunch written by Drusilla Modjeska is a rich and brilliant exploration of the art, life and times of Stella Bowen and Grace Cossington Smith set alongside the happenings of Australian society at the time. It is a book I wholeheartedly recommend.
The Book Club offers me a chance to broaden my reading outside my habitual tendencies. It also is a privilege to share our varied responses to literature and to hear the opinions and thoughts of others. It gives depth to my own limited ideas and notions. The things known about a topic beyond what is written in the book adds more to the story and discussion. Others in the group knew of Mirka Mora and her art and shared their tales. It served to enrich the experience and opened us all to more of Melbourne’s short history.
Meanwhile at work our Book Club students competed in the annual Readers’ Cup Challenge. I helped judge the quiz where the teams answered questions about the four books they had read: What I was by Meg Rosoff; The red necklace by Sally Gardner; Town by James Roy; and One whole and perfect day by Judith Clarke.
The girls had decorated their tables, responded to creative tasks by making colourful masks, and wedding dresses, and they had dressed up for the occasion. It was a fun activity and The Jane Austen Book Club won by a slim margin.