Advice (and Much More) from a Nonagenarian Domestic Goddess
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A biography of Marjorie Bligh, the “grand dame of the [Australian] housekeeping scene.”

Novelist Wood (Creative Writing/Univ. of Tasmania; Rosie Little's Cautionary Tales for Girls, 2007, etc.) and Bligh were both born in Tasmania, and both worked as journalists. At the time of Bligh's birth in 1917, Tasmania was an impoverished rural farm area. Her father died when she was 3, and at 14, she began working as a live-in servant. For the next seven years, until her first marriage to a farmworker, her employers trained her in household arts. After marriage and the birth of two sons, she stayed at home, adapting her skills to a modest budget and showcasing them at local fairs, where she bagged most of the prizes. Of necessity, suet took the place of butter and lamb brains substituted for oysters in her recipes, while she artfully recycled clothing and household items. In the late 1950s, Bligh began a career as a freelance journalist, writing about household hints for the local press. This led to a regular column in the women's page and the publication of her first book in 1965. A new marriage was followed by an update of the book in 1973. After his death, she remarried and wrote an additional five books, including an autobiography. Interspersed throughout this biography are quaint excerpts from Bligh's household tips. Bligh was not a woman who embraced the life of a stay-at-home mother, but a woman who made a profession out of her housewifely skills at a time when few other options were available to her.

A feminist sidelight on a region and way of life unfamiliar to a modern American readership.

Pub Date: May 21st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-86547-889-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2013


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