'Liza used to say that she saw her past life as a string of roughly-graded balls, and so did Hilda have a linear conception of hers, thinking of it as a track with detours. But for some years now I have likened mine to a globe suspended in my head, and ever since the shocking realisation that waste is irretrievalbe, I have been careful not to let this globe spin to expose the nether side on which my marriage has left its multitude of images.
'Nora Porteous has spent most of her life waiting to escape. Fleeing from her small-town family and then from her stifling marriage to a mean-spirited husband, Nora arrives finally in London where she creates a new life for herself as a successful dressmaker.
'Now in her seventies, Nora returns to Queensland to settle into her childhood home.
'But Nora has been away a long time, and the people and events of her past are not at all like she remembered them. And while some things never change, Nora is about to discover just how selective her 'globe of memory' has been.
'Tirra Lirra by the River is a moving account of one woman's remarkable life, a beautifully written novel which displays the lyrical brevity of Jessica Anderson's award-winning style.' (Publication summary)
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 12 (Literature Unit 4)
independence, memory, relationships, the loss of innocence, the search for connection
Ethical understanding, Intercultural understanding
'This study shows how fiction that makes use of textiles as an essential element utilizes synaesthetic writing and synaesthetic metaphor to create an affective link to, and response in, the reader. These links and responses are examined using affect theory from Silvan Tomkins and Brian Massumi and work on synaesthesia by Richard Cytowic, Lawrence Marks, and V.S. Ramachandran, among others. Synaesthetic writing, including synaesthetic metaphors, has been explored in poetry since the 1920s and, more recently, in fiction, but these studies have been general in nature. By narrowing the field of investigation to those novels that specifically employ three types of hand-crafted textiles (quilt-making, knitting and embroidery), the book isolates how these textiles are used in fiction. The combination of synaesthesia, memory, metaphor and, particularly, synaesthetic metaphor in fiction with textiles in the text of the case studies selected, shows how these are used to create affect in readers, enhancing their engagement in the story.
'The work is framed within the context of the history of textile production and the use of textiles in fiction internationally, but concentrates on Australian authors who have used textiles in their writing. The decision to focus on Australian authors was taken in light of the quality and depth of the writing of textile fiction produced in Australia between 1980 and 2005 in the three categories of hand-crafted textiles – quilt-making, knitting and embroidery. The texts chosen for intensive study are: Kate Grenville’s The Idea of Perfection (1999, quilting); Marele Day’s Lambs of God (1997, knitting) and Anne Bartlett’s Knitting (2005, knitting); Jessica Anderson’s Tirra Lirra by the River (1978, embroidery) and Marion Halligan’s Spider Cup (1990, embroidery).' (Publication summary)
'In 1978, Australia’s two most coveted national literary prizes of the time were both won by women: Helen Garner’s first novel Monkey Grip (1977) won the National Book Council Award for fiction, and the Miles Franklin Literary Award was won by Tirra Lirra by the River (1978), Jessica Anderson’s fourth novel. Both of these books have since become classics of Australian literature, rarely out of print and regularly rediscovered by new generations of readers.' (Author's introduction 30)