Last weekend marked the seventh annual Southern Highlands Writers’ Festival!
The festival opened with a special event on Friday night at The New Empire Cinema in Bowral.
Festival Director, Michaela Bolzan, usually tries to program an even mix of male and female authors and moderators, however the 2018 program offered festival-goers something a little different …
“When I started to work on this year’s festival … it was when the #MeToo Movement was really gaining traction,” says Bolzan. “I watched in fascination at this new wave of feminism, particularly from a lot of young women, and I wanted to contribute in some way. So for the 2018 festival, I was proud to produce an all-female line-up of authors and moderators. Except one!”
The sole exception to the all-female lineup was Alex Johnson, who Bolzan felt really deserved an inclusion given that he had chosen to feature Bowral in his book, Book Towns.
The opening night of the Festival began with the Australian launch of Book Towns, which celebrates Book Towns around the world. The Southern Highlands’ own Bowral is listed as one of the world’s forty-five “paradises of the printed world.”
After a video interview with Alex Johnson, there was a second book launch for local Bowral-based author, Alexandra Springett, and her children’s book The House on the River.
This was followed by an advanced screening of The Wife starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Based on the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, this film totally blew me away. I have not read the book, but after bringing me to tears twice and keeping me utterly transfixed from start to finish, I left the cinema determined to get my hands on a copy of The Wife and read it as soon as possible!
The festival continued the following day with the all-female program featuring debut authors Michelle Scott Tucker (Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World), Tania Blanchard (The Girl from Munich) and Lauren Chater (The Lace Weaver).
Nicola Moriarty spoke about her childhood, sharing her memories of growing up in a family of authors, and discussing her latest novel, Those Other Women.
Virginia Lloyd was the final author to speak at the Festival. She discussed her novel, Girls at the Piano, a brilliant memoir about how learning the piano shaped the live of two women worlds and generations apart.
The program truly celebrated the work of female authors and the festival was a pleasure to attend. The vibe was friendly, intimate and enthusiastic – with a tangible sense of anticipation in the air. It’s clear that a lot of love goes into the planning and execution of this festival, and the result is a truly unique and special event.
“Because we are such an intimate festival of about 1,200 festival-goers, set in one location, people tell me that The Southern Highlands Writers Festival is like The Sydney Writers’ Festival was thirty years ago when it first began. A smaller event does allow for more interaction, and I believe a greater exchange of ideas.”- Michaela Bolzan
The Southern Highlands is obviously a community with a deep love and appreciation of books. I can definitely see why Bowral is celebrated as a Book Town and look forward to attending the festival again next year.
Joe and Joan Castleman are on route to Helsinki, Joe is thinking about the prestigious literary prize he will receive and Joan is plotting how to leave him. For too long Joan has played the role of supportive wife, turning a blind eye to his misdemeanours, subjugating her own talents and quietly being the keystone of his success.
The Wife is an acerbic and astonishing take on a marriage from its public face to the private world behind closed doors. Wolitzer has masterfully created an expose of lives lived in partnership and the truth that behind the compromises, dedication and promise inherent in marriage there so often lies a secret...
About the Contributor
Sarah McDuling is Booktopia's Category Manager for Children's and Young Adult Books. She has been in the bookselling game for almost a decade and a dedicated booklover since birth (potentially longer). At her happiest when reading a book, Sarah also enjoys talking/writing/tweeting about books. In her spare time, she often likes to buy a lot of books and take photographs of books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instragram @sarahmcduling
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