Chapter one, part 2

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So far in Embraceable You ….

School girl Josefine Hanrahan has been a boarder at Our Lady of Dolores for most of her childhood. Today is her eighteenth birthday but it’s a lonely birthday. Josefine finds it difficult to make friends and the other girls don’t like her. Her father is Australia’s richest man but he’s a lousy father. Today, Josefine is going to break free …

 

It was Saturday. The girls were free to do whatever they wanted on Saturdays except leave the school campus without letting the staff know where they were going.

Most of the other girls in her wing would already be out on Lake Burley Griffin, rowing. That was a team sport and Josefine wasn’t a team player, so she wasn’t invited into any of the crews. Some of the girls would play tennis after breakfast.

Josefine had two left feet, two large left feet, and no hand-eye co-ordination so the ball was never in the spot where her racquet floundered ineffectually. As usual, there were no tennis invitations for her which was just fine as far as she was concerned; she didn’t like sport.

“Call me JK,” she once suggested hopefully, to the girls in her class.

It wasn’t much to ask of a cohort whose cosy nicknames, allocated by loving families, were destined to follow them into adulthood. The rare moment of exposing her insecurity had harvested only a snide campaign against her. She heard giggling whispers as she cowered in the bathroom cubicle and knew then that Bundle Haig was encouraging her friends to call Josefine something else entirely.

“We should call her Too Hanrahan,” she heard the melodious voice, which carried with such clarity, explaining to a coterie of admiring boarders.

She was a trendsetter, was Bundle, a ringleader whose every opinion, every fashion innovation was slavishly copied.

“She’s too tall, too skinny, her chest is too flat, her jaw is too square and her mouth is too wide,” someone else chimed in.

They probably knew she was in the bathroom with them but still, the whispering was audible and so she heard Sharna Petherbridge-Wedderburn add: “…and she’s too clumsy.”

Too rich, they probably said that as well, for her father was the richest man in Australia. The Business Review Monthly listed St John Hanrahan at the top of the ‘ten richest’ for so long that their readers had probably stopped bothering to look there. There was a chasm between first and second place that meant her father had long been unassailable at the top of the pile.

Luckily for Too Hanrahan, this meant that when she was dispatched to Our Lady of Dolores College as an inconvenient parcel, at least her father could afford to pay for a very nice room and he saw it as a matter of social standing that his daughter had the best. In fact, she’d ratcheted up her privileged place in the best room with the nicest view, by demanding that they combine two rooms into one. St John had delegated the request to a junior secretary (not Happy Birthday Josephine but some other member of the shifting sands in the secretarial pool) and it was done.

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About lynettefinch

Dr Lynette Finch. Once I was a poster designer and illustrator. I ran a small poster business called Mantis Prints, specializing in political posters during the odd days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in Queensland. I’m told my posters hung on the walls of Rizhsky railway station in Moscow, although I’m not sure about that. They are in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, on several on-line websites, and in the following book: Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington, eds. Light II, Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006, Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, 2007, pp. 110-117. In my next incarnation I was a senior lecturer in history. I published books and articles on urban health and feeding people in modern industrial cities, on the Queensland home front in the second world war and the role and history of war propaganda. Sometimes I wrote about Marxism and its impact around the world as well as intimate oral histories of communists in Australia, their experiences in conservative society, their role as social and political radicals in small towns and cities. Once I went through a death phase and wrote about the role of the Coroners Court in colonial society, about abortion and infanticide in nineteenth century cities, and about the role of gossip in policing. My research took a decidedly happier direction when I was granted an Arts Fellowship to Antarctica in the 2007/08 season, as research for a biography about Antarctic surveyor and explorer Syd Kirkby. I bunkered down in a blizzard in Brooke's hut near Davis station and imagined what it was like for Syd, caught for twelve days in a 150-knot blizzard, high in the plateau beyond Mawson in 1960. Some of my books: Australia’s Frontline: Remembering the 1939-45 War. With the rapid escalation of the Pacific War in 1942, Queenslanders suddenly found themselves perilously close to the frontline, especially those in the far north. The book is based on interviews of men and women who worked their farms in the north, some of them Italians and Germans who were interned as enemy aliens. Nevertheless, the book is essentially a story of courage, of community spirit and neighbourliness, and of the public and private war effort of a community facing crisis and loss. Dark Angel: Propaganda in Modern Warfare. This book traces the origins and development of propaganda and media manipulation from the 1800s to today’s ‘spin’ and ‘false news’. Why have governments at war allocated resources to propaganda leaflets, broadcasts, movies and art during major military conflicts? Read the book. You’ll find the answer. The Classing Gaze: Sexuality, Class and Surveillance. Concepts like sexuality and class share the same moment of birth during the nineteenth century as social inquiry turned to analysis of the workings, population growth, thought patterns, economic systems and internal bodily workings of humans (or Man, to be historically accurate). How did these ideological concepts impact in the real world? A great deal, is the short answer, outlined in this book. Young in a Warm Climate: a history of childhood in Queensland is an edited volume about childhood on the Queensland frontiers, at school, at home, in hospitals and other institutions. Fixing Antarctica: Mapping the Frozen South. In 1956, in the height of the cold war, the biggest wintering expedition that Australia had ever sent to Antarctica set out to map the great frozen landmass of Antarctica, driven by official fears that the Soviet Union meant to take the continent for themselves. The fourteen scientists were chosen from a field of hundreds of applicants. The surveyor, the central character in Fixing Antarctica, was Sydney Kirkby. Over the next twenty years, Syd Kirkby explored and map more unknown regions in the world than any other person in history. Earth, Wind and Fire is essentially twelve generations of my father’s mother’s family but it’s much more than that. It’s kind of Game of Thrones without the dragons. It starts with a kidnapped girl in Shelford, Nottinghamshire in the east midlands of England in 1618 and follows an unbroken chain of recorded births, deaths and marriages which spans four centuries until, six generations later, her descendants flee their farms in Ireland and join the diaspora to Australia. Using family stories, family photographs, published diaries and official documents, it’s the interwoven stories of five families struggling to survive amidst the most tumultuous times in European history. What’s next? I’m wandering into the boggy territory of creative fiction, writing a series of crime stories set on King Island, a beautiful windy island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve finished the first draft of Book One, The Rock. There will be seven, I think. I’m also writing a stand along novel, called The Key Collector. It’s about a World traveller, Angela who settles in a Tasmanian village near her daughter and grandson where she witnesses a car crash that kills three women. Convinced the collision was an act of murder, she digs into the tragic lives of the victims and is mired in a mystery stretching across three continents and reaching into the second world war.

One response »

  1. I am wondering about your intended audience. I picture fourteen to sixteen year olds, pushing for maturity. It is something teens would enjoy.

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