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'Women have often had a troubled relationship with food, but in recent decades there has been a bit of a turn around - at least in fictional terms. In some earlier Australian feminist fiction from the 1970s and 1980s, women were often portrayed as oppressed by, or resistant to, food and eating. Here I explore food in Kate Grenville's Lilian's Story, Andrea Goldsmith's Gracious Living, and two works by Helen Garner - The Children's Bach and Cosmo Cosmolino. In these stories women refrain from eating, or over indulge, as forms of resistance to oppression. But times have changed. This essay examines the changing nature of how food is represented in fiction by Australian women. The later novels explored here - Drusilla Modjeska's The Orchard, Marion Halligan's The Fog Garden, Stephanie Dowrick Tasting Salt and Amanda Lohrey's Camille's Bread (1995) - significantly reframe food preparation and consumption as positive experiences that promote women's independence, and contribute to their creative lives and personal relationships. These later texts transcend the earlier view of domesticated women as anxious or resistant consumers of food. Instead, food is aesthetically rich and sensually rewarding; a controllable and pleasurable experience promoting health, wellbeing, and positive loving relationships. (Author's abstract)

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Last amended 17 Feb 2011