Two new novels
Two Quakers, both experienced authors, have recently published novels.
Barbara True of South Australia and Northern Territory Regional Meeting has published a new book Always True, the fourth in her Pilot Collins series. “Twelve years have passed since Pilot’s unexpected wake up call. All forces to the contrary, she has stayed faithful to her long term commitments to family and medicine without ignoring the startling relevance of falling in love with the face of an actor at age 43.
“Set in the context of home life, romance novels, senior school envy and her home branch of medical specialisation, Pilot wends her way through owning her own story and finally arriving at the beginning of telling it rather exactly in her own way, sharing the journey to help others find their own – befriended, loved, embraced as they are and less alone.”
The new book by Sue Parritt (Victoria RM) is Chrysalis. The “swinging sixties” in the UK is the background for the early memories of Jane Simmons, the teen heroine of the book. Jane is the child of birthright Friends of a fairly conservative mien and their quiet home is contrasted with that of a large family of five who join Jane’s Meeting and contribute a welcome breath of informality and new life.
In this era, age-old mores were challenged and debated. Discussions on sex before marriage, homosexuality, divorce and abortion among Friends’ Meetings in the UK resulted in the 1964 statement: Towards a Quaker View of Sex.
Jane’s teen and early adult romantic experiences bring her face-to-face with many of these moral and ethical dilemmas. As she moves from home to attend teacher’s college, she becomes more aware of the societal pressures on young women in their choices of work, love, and family and wants to find her own path but struggles with the subtle ties that bind.
Jane’s choices and their consequences are very much the heart of this story and her final choice is as unexpected as it is “just right” as a rebellion against a lifetime of conformity.
A Quaker anti-conscription activist
The Sydney Living Museums website brings us an article on Isabel Swann and her sisters. Isabel Frances Swann (1881–1961) was an ardent peace activist, an anti-conscription campaigner, defender of free speech and secretary of the NSW branch of the Women’s Peace Army. She was the sixth of 11 children born to Quaker-bred schoolmaster William Swann and his wife, Elizabeth Devlin, and was brought up in a household influenced by the commitment of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to oppose participation in war. Throughout World War I this household was centred on Elizabeth Farm at Parramatta, originally owned by John Macarthur, but owned and occupied by the Swann family from 1904 until 1968.