I seem to be spending much time away from the mountain, talking about my book, reading from it, and answering questions. Most events have been indoors, and some have been combined with food, like the first lunch at Wallsend Library, attended by about 60 booklovers, including writer Pam Jeffrey, who wrote the following review for The Hunter Writers Centre newsletter.
But the one at the Lavender Gate Cafe in Wollombi was the most fun, being semi-outdoors and sunny. It was booked out, overflowing with wining and dining readers. I felt like the Queen at a garden party!
Next Thursday (28th) I’ll be at the ABC Shop at Erina Fair, doing an interview there for local ABC radio at 11.30 and then signing books.
Here’s Pam Jeffrey’s review:
Based on her diaries and documenting her astonishing life from the 1970s to the present day, The Woman on the Mountain is a substantial and eminently readable memoir. Written in response to the often asked question of why she would live there, the book charts her journey as a young wife and mother, through a broken marriage and single parenthood, failed partnerships and now alone as a grandmother, land-owner and ‘custodian’ of the mountain. This is a task that requires the ‘man-size’ work of reforesting and tending the mountain she has grown to love over decades.
The Woman on the Mountain has an intimacy, presence and directness that draws us on, sustained by the inspiring voice of the narrator. We become aware of Munro as a person as she moves through the text, pointing out everything to us. Candidly, and with wry humour, she details ventures and misadventures. We read about the building and extending of the solar-powered 30 year old mud-brick house, the pet roses regularly consumed by a fence-climbing wallaby, the bushfires, the ousted ‘squatters’ that flock to her house when she is absent, the re-emergence of a plant species feared extinct and the return of the endangered tiger quolls and marsupial mice, all keen to co-tenant her house. The book does not argue her politics, but reveals her passion through the vigour and effectiveness of her prose.
In relating these times, the author does not dwell on her developing self, but we see her grow. This happens through the influence of people in her life, the events she has witnessed and the problems resolved and unresolved over her time on the mountain. In this process the author discovers her own identity and her vocation. This is not the story of modern pioneering, gouging a living out of a reluctant land, but of passionate dedication and the ‘hard graft’ necessary to restore a decimated mountain forest.
The text is well structured, seamless and adheres to its chronological order, with an occasional reminiscence. And it is commendable that for all the knowledge Munro has, of necessity, acquired over the years, she imparts information in a simple and unpatronising fashion.
For those who pine for a tranquil existence, she shows that this means co-existence. Her plea is for the protection of the the wilderness and its creatures, and for the preservation of our planet. No strident advocacy this; it’s ‘show and tell’. If she and those who support her can revitalise a mountain, should we ask ourselves what we are contributing to our planet’s welfare?
If you have forgotten how good it feels to ‘get lost in a book’, rediscover the excitement and read The Woman on the Mountain. It will inspire and reassure you that all things are possible.