A Letter from Italy is a romantic story that isn’t just ruled by its heart. It’s a novel inspired by Louise Mack, the first female war correspondent who worked during the First World War. It’s a book that shows how a determined and strong journalist negotiates the trials and tribulations of being a woman in a male-dominated industry and also through a time of tumultuous change.

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Many of us are familiar with Disney’s version of Beauty & the Beast. The film shows the cursed Beast who captures the beautiful Belle, and it is only after Belle sees the creature’s inner “goodness” and falls in love that the spell is broken. Some people may consider that the Beast is actually rewarded with Belle’s love and not punished for his wrongdoings. Author Zoë Marriott has decided to redress this imbalance and tell the story from a feminist’s perspective.


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soldier's wife

The Soldier’s Wife is an intimate tale about World War I. The book is the 30thone to be written by NSW Premier’s Award-winner, Pamela Hart (who has also published children’s and adult fantasy novels under the name, Dr. Pamela Freeman). This is ultimately an emotional story about love, change, hope, grief and longing.

The narrative is mostly told from the perspective of Ruby Hawkins. She is a naïve girl who used to work in her parent’s shop in Bourke. After a whirlwind romance to the dreamy Jimmy she decides to relocate to Sydney so they can get married and she can see him off before he goes over to fight at Gallipoli.

In Sydney, Ruby undergoes a massive transformation after she takes a job in a timber merchant’s yard. It’s a man’s world but Ruby is determined and she learns a lot of lessons along the way. Eventually she blossoms into a smart and strong, independent woman who seems before her time.

The war wages on and Ruby is comforted by Jimmy’s letters that are mostly filled with love and yearning. There is some grief and tragedy along the way and it is interesting to see how the characters deal with this. Hart does an excellent job with the characterisation here, as she really gets at the underlying emotions felt by all of the individuals. She also excels in providing historical context to the setting because it makes us understand what women could and couldn’t do and Ruby’s journey and internal struggle is very much framed by all of this.

The ending to The Soldier’s Wife is a little too swift. But that said, the rest of the book is very detailed and engaging as it really gets at the true cost of war. The Soldier’s Wife is full of characters that feel real and are easy to relate to. It’s a beautifully-written romance and historical fiction book that is entertaining and hits more high notes than low.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit:




In A Thousand Times Goodnight, the main character, Rebecca (Juliette Binoche) faces an important dilemma of whether to work or be a wife and Mum. These roles are mutually exclusive because she is employed as a war photographer and she’s had a number of brushes with death. This film is ultimately a beautifully-shot family drama that offers a complex and nuanced portrait of its heroine.

A Thousand Times Goodnight is directed by former war photographer, Erik Poppe. There are moments in the film where his shots are used which help lend the proceedings an air of authenticity. The story was co-written by Poppe along with Harald Rosenløw-Eeg and is clearly a labour of love for the former. But the story does occasionally falter on the dramatic front as it suffers from being a little too slow and contrived at points.

The story begins with Rebecca taking the last photographs of a group of Afghani women who are preparing a suicide bomber. In the resulting blast, Rebecca suffers physical and mental injuries. When she returns home to her husband Marcus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)) in Ireland he forces her to make a hard choice. If she decides to continue shooting conflicts it will spell the end of their marriage.

The couple’s eldest daughter (a promising, Lauryn Canny) is equally fascinated and frightened by her mother’s choice of work. When the youngster receives a school assignment about Africa, an opportunity poses itself for some reconciliation and mother/daughter bonding. This chance feeds Rebecca’s sense of determination and resolve to take photographs that make a difference and inform an ignorant public who are only interested in stories about Paris Hilton not wearing any underpants.

Juliette Binoche puts in an excellent, heartfelt and emotional performance as Rebecca. You really do get a sense that she is hell-bent on exposing injustice and suffering. There is also a cameo from U2’s drummer, Larry Mullen Jr., who plays a family friend. The film has a quiet tension as it reflects on various elements and is a gritty look at the ethics of war photography and its impact on relationships and the public.

A Thousand Times Goodnight is a relevant and important film. It’s an intense character study of a committed and ambitious woman who is torn between loyalties. And while it is by no means perfect, it will make you stop and think twice about the actual costs associated with photographers and photojournalism, in particular. In short, it’s deeply affecting.


Originally published on 27 April 2015 at the following website:

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