The Birdman’s Wife by Australian author Melissa Ashley is a well written and researched book about artist Elizabeth Gould who was the wife of John Gould the famous Victorian ornithologist.
I came across Melissa Ashley’s book when it was one of the books of the month for BCbookclub, an online bookclub, that I belong to. I undid the string and brown wrapping paper that the book was wrapped in and without doubt the book had one of the most beautiful cover’s I’d ever seen. The endpages were just as lovely.
From the inside cover:
Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.
Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an evergrowing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.
In The Birdman’s Wife, the naïve young girl who falls in love with a demanding and ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.
In this indelible portrait, an extraordinary woman overshadowed by history steps back into the light where she belongs.
Melissa Ashley: photo Vikki Lambert
About the Author
Melissa Ashley is a writer, poet, birder and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She has published a collection of poems, The Hospital for Dolls, short stories, essays and articles. What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Elizabeth Gould became a labour of love and her first novel, The Birdman’s Wife. Inspired by her heroine, she studied taxidermy as a volunteer at the Queensland Museum. Melissa lives in Brisbane.
The story lived up to all my expectations and I would highly recommend this book.
This is the second book I have read for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, 2017.
The AWW challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, living in or outside Australia, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only.
Have good week, reading, writing (if you are an author) and dreaming.