Cover image courtesy of QUP
y Purple Threads selected work   short story  
Issue Details: First known date: 2010... 2010 Purple Threads
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Purple Threads is a humorous collection of rural yarns by a gifted storyteller. Jeanine Leane grew up on a sheep farm near Gundagai, and the stories are based on her childhood experiences in a house full of fiercely independent women. In between Aunty Boo's surveillance of the local farmers' sheep dip alliance and Aunty Bubby's fireside tales of the Punic Wars, the women offer sage advice to their nieces on growing up as Indigenous girls in a white country town.

The cast of strong Aboriginal women in a rural setting gives a fascinating insight into both Aboriginal and rural life. Farming is not an easy pursuit for anyone, but the Aunties take all the challenges in their stride, facing torrential rain, violent neighbours and injured dogs with an equal mix of humour and courage. Purple Threads uses an irreverent style reminiscent of Gayle Kennedy's Me, Antman & Fleabag and Marie Munkara's Every Secret Thing, but offers a unique perspective on the Australian country lifestyle.' Source: Publisher's website




  • Author's note: 'A collection of intertwined short stories that all form part of a bigger story.'
  • Dedication: For the women who raised and encouraged my sister and me, and for Peter, Jerome, Eugene and Hugo - the purple threads in my life.
  • Other formats: Also e-book.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 2010

Works about this Work

Australia in Three Books Anita Heiss , 2016 single work essay
— Appears in: Meanjin , Winter vol. 75 no. 2 2016; (p. 14-17)
Literature as Protest and Solace : The Verse of Alf Taylor Danica Cerce , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: Coolabah , no. 16 2015; (p. 25-33)

'Although Australian indigenous poetry is often overtly polemical and politically committed, any reading which analyzes it as mere propaganda is too narrow to do it justice. By presenting the verse of Alf Taylor collected in Singer Songwriter (1992) and Winds (1994) and discussing it in the context of the wider social and cultural milieu of the author, my essay aims to show the thematic richness of indigenous poetic expression. Indigenous poets have, on the one hand, undertaken the responsibility to strive for social and political equality and foster within their communities the very important concept that indigenous peoples can survive only as a community and a nation (McGuiness). On the other hand, they have produced powerful self-revelatory accounts of their own mental and emotional interior, which urges us to see their careers in a perspective much wider than that of social chroniclers and rebels.' (Publication abstract)

Review : Purple Threads and Mazin Grace Joelene Pynnonen , 2014 single work review
— Appears in: Reviews in Australian Studies , vol. 8 no. 2 2014;

— Review of Purple Threads Jeanine Leane 2010 selected work short story ; Mazin Grace Dylan Coleman 2011 single work novel
Home Talk Jeanine Leane , 2014 single work autobiography
— Appears in: Ngapartji Ngapartji, in Turn, in Turn : Ego-histoire, Europe and Indigenous Australia 2014; (p. 211-225)

'This is a story about how I came to write. In 2010, when I was in my late 40s, 
I completed a PhD and wrote a volume of poetry and a novel. This is a story. It is not an essay or an article or a treatise or anything else that ‘scholarly’ writing is called in western literature. This is a story because Aboriginal people live for and by stories. This is the story about how I came to write all that I did and how I came to find my place and my voice in a nation that until the early 1970s was dominated by an official White Australia Policy. It can be argued that, even in the twenty-first century, vestiges of the ‘white nation’ still prevail.'  (Introduction)

Given, Received, Withheld : Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane, the Short Story Cycle and the Fragmentary Nature of Knowing Helena Kadmos , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: Outskirts : Feminisms along the Edge , November no. 31 2014;
'Feminist theorists have written extensively about the nature of knowledge about, and formed by, women. Broadly, their contributions have focussed on ‘the critique of the individualism of modern epistemology, [and the] reconstructions of epistemic subjects as situated knowers’ (Grasswick, 2013, np). They have challenged traditional views of knowledge as fixed and unyielding by claiming that various facets of identity, such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class, impact on reading and research, shaping, for instance, the questions that are included and excluded from the reader’s lines of enquiry. These factors are therefore epistemologically significant in thinking about who can know, and what one can know. For instance, philosopher Lorraine Code asserts that the creative interplay between objective and subjective facets of knowledge construction mean that ‘knowing other people, precisely because of the fluctuations and contradictions of subjectivity, is an ongoing, communicative, interpretive process [that] can never be fixed or complete …’ (1991, 38). This claim seems particularly pertinent to the interactive processes by which individuals come to a greater sense of who they are in the context of the wider family. In this article, I draw from this body of work to examine how the short story cycle might, in a specific and concrete way, imaginatively represent these processes. I argue that characteristics of the short story cycle, such as the open-ended lapses between stories, and the focus on minor narrative arcs, make it a suitable form through which readers may piece together disjointed and sometimes inconsistent detail to achieve some sense of knowable truth about women whose lives contain aspects that remain unarticulated. I illustrate these arguments with the example of Purple Threads (2011), a collection of stories based on the personal experiences of Wiradjuri writer and scholar, Jeanine Leane. By focussing on discrete experiences in each individual story, Purple Threads builds a uniquely Australian picture of three generations of women and girls who experience simultaneous and multiple oppressions on the basis of their colour, sex and class, yet survive and in many ways thrive by drawing on a range of skills and resources. Specifically, I use examples from this cycle to show that knowledge passed within and between generations in families is not neutral, objective or finite, but accumulated through exchanges that are often uncertain, sporadic and inconsistent.' (Author's introduction)
Aunties Delight as Sunny Finds Her Cultural Identity Helena Kadmos , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 18-19 February 2012; (p. 21)

— Review of Purple Threads Jeanine Leane 2010 selected work short story
The Ties that Bind Ian McFarlane , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 19 May 2012; (p. 21)

— Review of Purple Threads Jeanine Leane 2010 selected work short story
Review: Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane Anita Heiss , 2007- single work review
— Appears in: Anita Heiss

— Review of Purple Threads Jeanine Leane 2010 selected work short story
Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane: Book Review Karenlee Thompson , 2009- single work review
— Appears in: Karenlee Thompson 2009-;

— Review of Purple Threads Jeanine Leane 2010 selected work short story
Purple Threads by Jeanine Leane Lisa Hill , 2009- single work review
— Appears in: ANZ LitLovers LitBlog 2009-;

— Review of Purple Threads Jeanine Leane 2010 selected work short story
Purple Patch for Winning Author Mahala Strohfeldt , 2010 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 8 September no. 484 2010; (p. 4)
'Ms. Leane has just taken out the Unpublished Indigenous Writer David Unaipon Award at the 2010 Queensland Premier's Literary Awards for her first-time novel. It has been described as a 'sad hilarious and moving yarn' but more than that she says, it is a collection of poignant memories of her growing up years.' Koori Mail no.484, 8 September 2010
More Prizes for That Deadman Dance 2011 single work column
— Appears in: Koori Mail , 21 September no. 510 2011; (p. 21)
'The phenomenal success of Aboriginal author Kim Scott's latest book prompted a somewhat contentious question at the Brisbane Writers Festival earlier this month...'
Canberra Writer on C'wealth Shortlist Gia Metherell , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 26 April 2012; (p. 5)
Aussies Are on the Page Marc McEvoy , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sun-Herald , 29 April 2012; (p. 19)
‘Look What They Done to This Ground, Girl!’: Country and Identity in Jeanine Leane’s Purple Threads Helena Kadmos , 2014 single work criticism
— Appears in: JASAL , vol. 14 no. 3 2014;

'Purple Threads, by Jeanine Leane, embodies country. Images of the land are physically and emotionally evoked in the individual stories that make up this short story cycle, running through the stories as delicately as strands of purple wisteria and as powerfully as the Murrumbidgee River flows and then surges through the countryside where they are set. In this article I aim to demonstrate how two features of the short story cycle - the independence and interrelatedness of the stories in the cycle, and the longer story within the cycle - help to convey the multifarious connections people can have to their country, family and the places they call home.

Leane draws on her own experiences to articulate formative incidents in a young girl’s life that explore what it meant to be an Aboriginal girl growing up in central NSW in the 1960s and ’70s. The development of Sunny’s cultural and ethnic identity is inseparable from her relationship with country, nurtured by her Nan and Aunties’ love and respect for the land, and challenged by a Dorothy-esque journey that carries her far away to a foreign country in search of family, and back again to the place she feels most loved and secure.

'This article thus explores the importance of country in Sunny’s growing awareness of her identity, and forms part of a broader project on the representations of women’s lives in the short story cycle.' (Publication abstract)

Last amended 26 Aug 2014 15:33:28
  • Gundagai area, Southeastern NSW, New South Wales,
  • Country towns,
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