‘I was prime minister for three years and three days. Three years and three days of resilience.Three years and three days of changing the nation. Three years and three days for you to judge.’
MY STORY is Julia Gillard’s account of her time as Australia’s first female prime minister.
It details her rise in the Labor Party and taking on the role of Prime Minister, what propelled her and what sustained her during that time. The book looks at all aspects of governing a country and of the difficult and complex decisions that have to be made. MY STORY discusses the leadership issues, the political campaigns, and all the domestic and foreign policy issues that Julia Gillard faced as Prime Minister. As well, it’s a chronicle of her life, growing up in Wales, moving to Adelaide and her time in politics. She discusses her family and the personal choices she has made. Julia Gillard shares her thoughts on the Labor Party, its future, and important choices and issues facing the country. MY STORY is also Julia Gillard’s story about being a woman at the highest levels of Australian political and public life.
This is a memoir that is both frank and candid. It not only looks at the high points of Julia Gillard’s life but examines the challenging times. It shows where she erred and where she triumphed. Above all it’s the story of her political and personal journey during those turbulent times for our country and the meaning they hold for our future.
In my last post I wrote about a nightmarish scenario in which books we read are created automatically by a software algorithm. I’ve had time to think about it since then, and to use the wonderful TweetWriter, a promotional tool for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. TweetWriter takes the body of writing that makes up your Twitter feed and creates a customised book based on your style of expressing yourself, which, as everyone knows, is usually at its finest in tweet form. Here’s my automagically customised back cover blurb:
When asked to described the real Joel Blacklock, Joel would often say “I am the walrus”, but 127 loyal fans will always know Joel best as the prolific writer who published over 1643 works, all written from Joel’s secluded playboy style mansion in Sydney, Australia.
In this astonishing latest work, ‘THE NAME OF THE KIND’, Blacklock’s writing is both mesmeric in tone and labrynthine in structure, and is surely destined to achieve the status of a contemporary classic.
Hear that? ‘Mesmeric in tone and labrynthine in structure’. One hundred and twenty seven fans can’t be wrong!
Let’s just say the software algorithm that will write a true bestseller is some time away. Quite aside from the fact that the back cover blurb is littered with errors and the title of the book is different on the front and back (I tend to think The Name of the Kind is better than The Kind of the Rest – thoughts?) I can’t imagine a single person would even pick this book up off the shelves.
Nonetheless, for the curious and the lazy, here are a few of Twitter’s finest minds at work.
Last week I finished the most delicious morsel of Marie Antoinette non-fiction reading (actually, it was more like a whole degustation menu) aptly titled Marie Antoinette – The Journey, by Antonia Fraser. I’ve since learned that Antonia is the ‘go-to girl’ for Marie and a couple of other prominent historical figures, and so I intend to work my way through the rest of her non-fiction works by cramming fistful after fistful of page into my brain, in the most gluttonous fashion.
Of course, it is always interesting to learn that people aren’t what you expected them to be. The portrayal of Marie Antoinette by the 18th century media (the unrelenting French gossip columnists!), even to the historians who dislike her, seemed to be over-the-top against poor Antoinette. I love to spout the information that just before her ‘treasonous’ head was sent to the guillotine, Marie’s last words were said to be “excuse me, sir, I did not mean to do it” after she accidentally stepped on the executioner’s toe. As for her most famous utterance “Let them eat cake” – she didn’t even say it. No one knows for sure who did, of course, but it was attributed to at least two other royal maidens before it was force-fed to Marie Antoinette. Whatever bias is in Fraser’s novel (which portrays ‘Little Antoine’ as a particularly likeable, though mostly unhappy and even disappointed character despite her indulgences whilst on the French throne), it is safe to say that Marie Antoinette was misunderstood and somewhat victimised by the media, and therefore the public, because of her lofty position.
Upon finishing the book, I tut-tutted over the injustice of it all, and thanked the gods that we now live in a more modern, forgiving society less generated by baseless propaganda. Or so I hope.
With our first ever female Prime Minister taking the reigns, it probably causes a bit of a stir amongst the more conservative of the nation. The opposition will of course continue to call Ms Gillard ‘red Julia’, but that’s just politics. I don’t wish to use this blog for some sort of personal political agenda (to be frank, you could fit what I understand about the Australian government system into Marie Antoinette’s shoebox, and you’d still have some room left over), but I do hope that our first female leader is given a fair go. As Antonia Fraser once did say: “I think there has been a great deal of valuable revisionism in women’s history.”