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The Birdman's Wife - Melissa Ashley

Hardcover

Published: 1st October 2016
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Published: 1st October 2016
Format: ePUB
$14.99

Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.

Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an evergrowing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.

In The Birdman’s Wife, the naïve young girl who falls in love with a demanding and ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.

In this indelible portrait, an extraordinary woman overshadowed by history steps back into the light where she belongs.

About the Author

Melissa Ashley is a writer, poet, birder and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She has published a collection of poems, The Hospital for Dolls, short stories, essays and articles. What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Elizabeth Gould became a labour of love and her first novel, The Birdman’s Wife. Inspired by her heroine, she studied taxidermy as a volunteer at the Queensland Museum. Melissa lives in Brisbane.

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The Birdman's Wife
 
5.0

(based on 10 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (10)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Engaging characters (9)
  • Well written (9)
  • Informative (8)
  • Deserves multiple readings (7)
  • Easy to read (6)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Gift (8)
  • Older readers (5)
  • Reference (4)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Bookworm (5), Everyday reader (4)

Reviewed by 10 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

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5.0

I loved this book

By 

from Melbourne, VI

About Me Bookworm

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Easy To Read
  • Engaging characters
  • Informative
  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Gift
    • natural history lovers
    • Older Readers

    Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

    This book surprised me with its beautiful rendered descriptions of flora & fauna, particularly birds, found in Europe and discovered in Australia. A poignant history of the fanatical naturalist and the wife that shared his work (leaving her children behind to travel to Australia with him) bringing his observations to life with realistic and anatomically correct drawings of the birds he studied. At the same time this novel was a bleak social commentary on the status of women and the submissive nature of their role in society and the family. A beautiful, poignant history of an incredible woman who managed here 3 roles of wife, mother and artist with grace and courage.

     
    5.0

    Historical fiction at its best in my opinion!

    By 

    from Perth Western Australia

    About Me Everyday Reader

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Engaging characters
    • Informative
    • Well Written

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Gift
      • Older Readers
      • Reference
      • Special Needs

      Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

      This is an excellent book especially for those who like historical fiction, Australian history and wildlife, and are lovers of knowledge of birds and their habits. For budding artists it would also be an inspiration in following Elizabeth Gould's tenacity in perfecting her craft and aspiring to greater accuracy in her depictions of the birds given to her to reproduce by her husband, John. Descriptions of home life in the period in which the Goulds lived and worked and hardships endured in travelling between London and Australia and the style of life experienced in Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales are also of great interest. I think this is an excellent book and suitable for any book club. I recommend it as an enthralling and inspiring read.

       
      5.0

      The Birdman's Wife is fabulous!

      By 

      from Penola, South Australia

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Deserves Multiple Readings
      • Easy To Read
      • Engaging characters
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Gift
        • Older Readers
        • Reference
        • Travel Reading

        Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

        Loved this book, especially as it was located in part in Australia and provided insight into the documenting through art the birdlife of Australia. It is a great insight into the role of women in the 1800's, especially talented and courageous woman such as Elizabeth Gould.

         
        5.0

        A fantastic and interesting Read

        By 

        from Sheldon Queensland

        About Me Everyday Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Easy To Read
        • Engaging characters
        • Informative
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Older Readers
          • Reference

          Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

          Couldn't put it down, now rereading

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Purchased 3 copies

          By 

          from Boorowa NSW Australia

          About Me Bookworm

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Deserves Multiple Readings
          • Easy To Read
          • I bought for myself and two friends - all enjoye
          • Informative
          • Well Written

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Gift

            Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

            Gave to other women who were also avid readers and interested in the topic. All enjoyed it. I found it easy to read and insightful

             
            5.0

            A fascinating novel

            By 

            from WPH, NSW

            About Me Bookworm

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Deserves Multiple Readings
            • Engaging characters
            • Informative
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift

              Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

              A fascinating, speculative, and absorbing novel about the life of Elizabeth Gould, 19th Century illustrator for her beloved husband, John Gould, famed ornithologist. Tracks the development of Eliza's skills as an illustrator and thoughtful helpmate to her husband. Ashley explores how women's place in early 19th Century England and Australia was restricted by convention and child rearing responsiblities. Great amount of detail about ornithology, taxidermy and the mores of society at the time. Delightful illustrations on the endpapers and dust jacket. A must for bird lovers. Other readers: persevere, this is a well written book (though not something that can be read in a weekend).

               
              5.0

              A must read

              By 

              from Ipswich

              About Me Casual Reader

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • a story that needs to be read
              • Deserves Multiple Readings
              • Easy To Read
              • Engaging characters
              • Informative
              • meticulously researched
              • Page-Turner
              • unique and fascinating
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • anyone interested in history
                • artists and people interested in art
                • bird watchers
                • Gift
                • twitchers

                Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

                A beautifully presented book, meticulously researched, wonderful story, and perfectly written.

                (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Get into Australia's birds

                By 

                from ChapelHill

                About Me Bookworm

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Engaging characters
                • Informative
                • Well Written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Gift
                  • Older Readers
                  • Reference

                  Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

                  John and Elizabeth Gould discovered and named over 200 of Australia's 900 bird species in the 19th century and produced glorious coloured lithographs that they published in subscriber folios. Ashley takes the reader into their two year adventure in Hobart and the Hunter Valley where they captured the glory of our birdlife. Charles Darwin, Edward Lear, Sir John Franklin and even Prince Albert are characters featured in this meticulously researched novel that breathes life into early scientific and artistic endeavours in colonial Australia. Elizabeth shines as a Victorian heroine who sacrificed so much in the pursuit of art and knowledge. A must read for fans of Australian and English history, science, birds, art, discovery and adventure!

                  (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                   
                  5.0

                  Superbly written historical fiction

                  By 

                  from Sydney

                  About Me Bookworm

                  Pros

                  • Deserves Multiple Readings
                  • Easy To Read
                  • Engaging characters
                  • Informative
                  • Page-Turner
                  • Well Written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

                      Loved this - and fell in love with the character of Elizabeth Gould. The story behind her work as an artist and as Birdman John Gould's secret weapon was fascinating.

                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      5.0

                      The most beautiful book I've seen for some time ...

                      By 

                      from Melbourne

                      About Me Everyday Reader

                      Verified Reviewer

                      Pros

                      • Engaging characters

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Gift

                        Comments about The Birdman's Wife:

                        So disclaimer that I work for Affirm Press, but this book is a gem. The author was researching the famous birdman John Gould and discovered it was his wife doing a lot of the illustrative work and getting no credit for it. The book is a fact based re-imagining of Elizabeth's life including her travels to Australia. You can't help but fall in love with Elizabeth and her amazing spirit. Gorgeous hardback with beautiful illustrated end papers.

                        Displaying reviews 1-10

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                        An exquisite reimagining of the untold story of Elizabeth Gould which restores her and her bird illustrations to centre stage during a period when the passion for natural history and discovery of new species was sweeping the world. - Inga Simpson, author of Where the Trees Were, Nest and Mr Wigg

                        At the opening of The Birdman’s Wife, Elizabeth Gould alights from a carriage into an exotic place of unknown creatures and a meeting that would change her life. We witness the growth of this inquisitive and intelligent woman as a wife, mother and artist, the avian specimens she illustrates mirroring her own remarkable flight. Melissa Ashley’s lush work is a beautiful testimony to this overlooked — but brave and talented — female artist. - Jessica White, author of Curious Intimacy and Entitlement.

                        ‘I completely fell in love with this book. ’ - Susan Duncan, author of Salvation Creek, The House at Salvation Creek and The Briny Café

                        The Birdman’s Wife is a fascinating story that is long overdue.’ - The Herald Sun

                        ‘The world can finally meet Elizabeth Gould in the flesh – or the fiction flesh, at least’ - The Courier Mail

                        ‘Melissa Ashley conjures convincing and vivid images that transport us back to another time and place, breathing life into historical characters’ - Better Reading

                        ‘A fascinating historical study, a meticulous and well-documented scientific report, an emotional story, and an engaging read’ - Cass Moriarty, author of The Promise Seed

                        ISBN: 9781925344998
                        ISBN-10: 1925344991
                        Audience: General
                        Format: Hardcover
                        Language: English
                        Number Of Pages: 400
                        Published: 1st October 2016
                        Publisher: Affirm Press
                        Country of Publication: AU
                        Dimensions (cm): 24.2 x 16.1  x 3.5
                        Weight (kg): 0.68
                        Edition Number: 1