past, present and future with emily paull

ppandbttfppandbttfimageIt’s time to go time travelling again. This is Past, Present and Future, the fortnightly post in which I invite a very special guest to tell me about the book they’ve just finished reading, the book they’re reading right now and the book they’re planning to read next. In other words – past, present and future.

I’m joined today by Emily Paull, who writes about books and writing at The Incredible Rambling Elimy. She lives in Perth where she works in a bookshop and — oh, look. I’ll just let Emily explain…

Okay, so I should preface this little tale about what I’ve been reading with the following caveat: aside from being a writer and a blogger, I am a full-time bookseller at one of Perth’s most well-known Independent bookstores. They let me choose what books to stock, which is an immense responsibility and I rely heavily on friends and internet friends (i.e. other bloggers) to let me know what people might be interested in from month to month. I have to read A LOT to keep up with all the orders BUT there is a perk!  I get to read proof copies of books that haven’t even been released yet!


Last night, I finished a wonderful book by Inga Simpson which was called Nest. This nest
particular book will be published by Hachette in August, and if you loved Inga Simpson’s previous novel, Mr Wigg, or even if you’re one of those readers who felt nothing much happened in that book, you should definitely pick up Nest.  (You can pre-order it.)  It’s set in a remote town in Victoria and the main character is an artist named Jen who has returned to this landscape of her childhood after having left it when her father abandoned her and her mother, and then her mother became depressed. When a little girl goes missing, it brings back memories for Jen about the abduction of her best friend, Michael, when they were twelve, and she is drawn into the case by both her art student, Henry (who is a friend of the missing girl) and by the coincidence of her being present during both cases. Jen’s father left two days after Michael was abducted in the 1970s and was a suspect but they never could prove it. The book explores the theme of grief in great detail, looking at the ways it affects the characters’ abilities to form relationships as they move on from the tragedy, but it also uses nature and creativity as forms of healing. Nest is a hopeful and uplifting book, rather than a dark and scary rural crime novel.

gretawellsFrom there, I moved north, to New York in the 1980s with Andrew Sean Greer’s The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. I was really surprised by how much I loved this book. In 1985, Greta loses her twin brother Felix to AIDS, and then a few months later, her lover of ten years leaves her. She becomes depressed and starts seeing a shrink who recommends that she start a course of electroconvulsive therapy. The treatment has a really strange side effect, and Greta finds herself shifting through a cycle of possible selves in different decades; in each one, she gets something she’s longed for but has to give up something or someone else. It was so effortlessly beautiful that I slipped right into the narrative and finished it early this morning! What I was most struck by was Greer’s ability to write a convincing female character and explore the themes of women’s roles through the twentieth century with such compassion. I was extremely impressed.


Right this very moment I am about to go to bed with a huge cup of Turkish Apple tea and abluemile book by Kim Kelly called The Blue Mile. It’s set in 1929, after the Wall Street Crash, and in Sydney the Harbour Bridge is being built. The main characters, Eoghan (Yo-un) O’Keenan and Ollie (Olivia) Greene are brought together in the shadow of the bridge when Eoghan gets a job labouring on the project and has to find someone to mind his seven-year-old sister Agnes. He’s just run away from home, from an abusive father and an alcoholic mother and taken his sister with him, and they’ve been sleeping in the Botanic Gardens where Agnes is sure that the fairy queen is looking after them…and then she spots Ollie and thinks that she’s the fairy queen come to life. It’s pretty implausible nowadays that you would ask a complete stranger (or agree if you were that stranger) to mind your sister, but it’s not tritely done, it’s actually rather sweet, and both characters are just in the right frames of mind for it to be realistic. Agnes is a gorgeous character, she’s got a very authentic voice and she keeps this story from being boring old boy meets girl. I can’t wait to get back to it!! I’m also reading Middlemarch but I’m not very far into it, and I am working my way through Jack Hodgins’ A Passion for Narrative.


I never really know what I will read next because it depends on what I feel like reading at the time, but just casting my eye around the ever-growing stack of unread books, I could choose some vintage Richard Flanagan, or Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life if either of those took my fancy…or perhaps I could move on to the next Song of Ice and Fire novel (Game of Thrones). I am up to A Feast for Crows and I am finding the novels are becoming more exciting to me than the television story! The backstories are providing a lot of intrigue…yes, perhaps that’s what I’ll read next…

Thanks for having me! Don’t forget to visit The Incredible Rambling Elimy for book reviews, updates on what I am writing, and bookshelf tours from bloggers and Australian authors.

Thank you, Emily – and very happy reading to you!

My next Past, Present and Future guest is not only an author – he’s also one of Sydney’s most charismatic literary figures, and I’m very excited to find out what he’s been reading! That’s all I’m giving away.

Expect a new review from me very soon, as well as a post on my amazing Sydney Writers’ Festival experience. I arrived home from my final day only a matter of hours ago and my feet are still to recover from all that wandering around The Rocks.

Here’s a taste of what’s to come…


Author: Michelle

Reader, writer, wannabe. Literary critic (with training wheels on). Blogging my way through the 20th century's classic novels in chronological order.

6 thoughts on “past, present and future with emily paull”

  1. Looks brilliant, Michelle, thanks for having me!

    Your readers might be interested to know that they can win some of the books I’ve mentioned in this post if they visit my blog…


  2. Great Wells sounds super-appealing to me, and I might add Nest to my AWW Challenge list. Nice work Emily!

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