I’ve got a bit of a thing about Australia in fiction so it gives me enormous pleasure to welcome back Liza Perrat to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me a little bit about one of her books which is set there. Liza was last on the blog with an extract from The Silent Kookaburra and although the giveaway is now over, you can read the post here.
Staying in with Liza Perrat
Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Liza and thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.
Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought along my latest novel, The Swooping Magpie. This is the second story (but they are both standalones) in an Australian 1970s family drama series. It is set at the same time and in the same place in New South Wales, as the first in the series, a psychological suspense, The Silent Kookaburra.
(I love books that take me to Australia Liza and I think both your books would be exactly my kind of read. I’m so glad The Swooping Magpie is on my TBR.)
As well as evoking a true-life scandal that shocked Australia, The Swooping Magpie explores the effects and consequences of a dysfunctional family, and a rigid society, all set during a time of great change in Australia. Women were on the cusp of liberation, society itself was becoming more liberal and tolerant and everyone was protesting against Australia’s part in the Vietnam war, as America’s “puppets”.
(This sounds really interesting.)
What can we expect from an evening in with The Swooping Magpie?
Entertainment and enlightenment, I hope! Early readers have said this about the story:
It’s so tempting to look back on the 1970s as halcyon days for a young girl but The Swooping Magpie shows a seedier side of the end of the swinging 60s and the still early days of the sexual revolution where traditional values and the power of the church were such that young girls were often caught in the middle, and subterfuge and denial robbed them of what was rightfully theirs, affecting them for the rest of their lives.
Beautifully written, the novel combines the twists and reversals of a psychological thriller with a heart-rending drama that is also a searing commentary on a shocking aspect of all too recent history.
I recommend The Swooping Magpie if you enjoy books with strong psychological insights into their characters’ lives and a serious underlying theme.
… as with all Liza Perrat’s novels, the settings send you straight into the heart of the location, engaging all the senses: the story abounds with lorikeets and cockatoos, the sounds of cicadas and the scent of frangipani, the heat of the Australian sun.The story’s twists and turns are shocking and yet totally credible and will keep you turning the pages until the very end.
(These are fabulous responses Liza. You must be completely delighted with them. They make me want to read your books even more.)
What else have you brought along and why?
Probably for nostalgic reasons, as I grew up in the 70s in Wollongong, where the story is set, I’ve brought some pictures of food I enjoyed back then (and still do), and which is mentioned in the story: chocolate paddlepops and Vegemite (complete with finger smudges!), a Vitamin B spread that all good Aussie kids grow up on. I don’t think I’ve ever met a non-Aussie who likes Vegemite, and no, it’s really NOT the same as Marmite.
(Isn’t it interesting how food can evoke an era and setting?)
I’ve also brought some photos of 1970s Wollongong and the harbour where part of the story takes place. I remember Friday night treats eating fish and chips down on the shorefront, the gulls wheeling and squawking around us! It’s changed a lot now, but every time I go home to Australia, that place tugs at the heart strings.
Photos courtesy of the collections of the Wollongong City Libraries and the Illawarra Historical Society
I also have a photo of a “swooping magpie” danger sign, which is really just a bit of a nod to the title.
(Ha! That made me smile, Liza.)
Thank you so much for staying in with me, Liza and telling me about The Swooping Magpie. I can tell it’s going to keep calling me until I read it!
The Swooping Magpie
The thunderclap of sexual revolution collides with the black cloud of illegitimacy.
Sixteen-year-old Lindsay Townsend is pretty and popular at school. At home, it’s a different story. Dad belts her and Mum’s either busy or battling a migraine. So when sexy school-teacher Jon Halliwell finds her irresistible, Lindsay believes life is about to change.
She’s not wrong.
Lindsay and Jon pursue their affair in secret, because if the school finds out, Jon will lose his job. If Lindsay’s dad finds out, there will be hell to pay. But when a dramatic accident turns her life upside down, Lindsay is separated from the man she loves.
Events spiral beyond her control, emotions conflicting with doubt, loneliness and fear, and Lindsay becomes enmeshed in a shocking true-life Australian scandal. The schoolyard beauty will discover the dangerous games of the adult world. Games that destroy lives.
Lindsay is forced into the toughest choice of her young life. The resulting trauma will forever burden her heart.
Reflecting the social changes of 1970s Australia, The Swooping Magpie is a chilling psychological tale of love, loss and grief, and, through collective memory, finding we are not alone.
The Swooping Magpie is available for purchase here.
About Liza Perrat
Liza grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for over twenty years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist. She is the author of the historical The Bone Angel series. The first, Spirit of Lost Angels is set in 18th century revolutionary France. The second, Wolfsangel, is set during the WW2 Nazi Occupation and the French Resistance, and the third novel, Blood Rose Angel, is set during the 14th century Black Plague years. All of Liza’s books are available here.