Monday, July 30, 2012

Lisa Heidke: Stella makes good

Once again, Lisa Heidke entertains with a chick-lit romp set on Sydney’s North Shore, Stella makes good (Arena/Allen & Unwin, ISBN 9781742378671). Heidke’s writing matures with each new book; this is her fourth. Her characters are aging, no longer fancy-free and set on having a good time, but married with children and husband problems.
Stella’s marriage is in trouble. Her husband has moved out. Out for drinks with the girls, and being chatted up by an attractive doctor, she agrees to go to a party in of all unlikely places conservative suburban Turramurra. This is a place where I lived for a semester or two while at university. I only lived there because it was relatively close – in kilometre terms – to Macquarie University. Turramurra has none of the raffish charm and bohemian loucheness of Glebe or New town which are within walking distance of the University of Sydney. Turramurra is respectable. For this very reason, I used it as a setting myself in my book Music from another country. Today, I shop at Coles there every six weeks when we come back from having our hair done in Terrigal (as everybody does). I have to dodge the walking frames and scooters in the aisles. The suburb has an aged population. It is not the place where ! would imagine a sex party taking place, but Heidke sets one going there and her description of the street and the house makes it very believable. I’m sure I’ve walked past the place. If only I’d known what was going on inside. Turramurra would have been far more interesting.
Stella goes to the party to protect a friend who has had too much to drink. But she sees the husband of another friend there in nappies and crawling on the floor. She leaves, but the nasty nappie wearer starts harassing her. The story evolves
The North Shore has many secrets, and Tony Abbott is the least of them in this complex and humourous book. Heidke is developing into one of Australia’s most accomplished arbiters of manners and morals. I’m looking forward to her next book.

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