Women Can Do Anything? Well,’Yes They Can,’ says Ralph

Last month David Michaelis and his brilliant biography of Eleanor Roosevelt had me reduced to tears, as we learned more and more of one of the truly great Americans, says Ralph McAllister

Eleanor Roosevelt

‘I turned next, by chance, to the latest from Kate Quinn ,THE DIAMOND EYE, another remarkable truth is stranger than fiction thriller,or faction as I like to call it,and each with women central to the stories.

THE ALICE NETWORK ,THE HUNTRESS and THE ROSE CODE are all adventures of real class  with meticulous research and touching humanity as women turn the tables time and time again as First  and Second World wars surround them.

THE DIAMOND EYE is no exception as Lyudmila Pavlichenko gains fame as as the deadliest of all snipers (tally 309) in Russia’s fight against Germany’s Hitler turncoats.

At one point she is sent to the White House to try to persuade President Roosevelt to join the Allies .

She meets Eleanor.

True or false?

A sniper meets the most powerful man(and woman?) in the world?

You decide.

Pavlichenko lived to tell her story in an autobiography which I hope to read soon.

Larry and Viv

LARRY AND VIV is another novel / faction which follows the Old VIC  tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1948 ,led by Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh and a company of 40, for what was to prove to be a long long nine months.

Larry and Viv

Three plays in repertoire, SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, SKIN OF OUR TEETH, and RICHARD THE THIRD would tax the tolerance of any group, and so it proved.

Being treated like royalty, didn’t help.

speeches and must meet occasions added to the tension between Larry and Viv which already was  obvious, particularly as the tour progressed.

Author Graeme Lay has done a fine job with interesting recreations of social events and gatherings such as with Frank Sargeson , Charles Brasch  and Peter Finch, and the notorious ex-mayor of Auckland Sir Ernest Myers who pursued Vivien with flowers, limousines, and other temptations.

A fascinating read and it reminded us that Vivien did return to New Zealand in the sixties and was as popular as ever , this time accompanied by her lover John Merivale.

Hence my including her in this Women Can Do Anything or nothing.

Another terrifying read

Just finished THE ISLAND by Adrian McKinty, another terrifying good versus evil thriller, set half an hour from Melbourne on an island dominated by an appallingly nasty family and visited by Tom , new wife Heather and his children Olivia and Owen to see the koalas.

No chance, after an accident that kills Tom and a young girl and now the leaders of the islanders seek revenge.

Of course, Heather, an American, has had gun training from her loving father, what father wouldn’t, and she now becomes the leader of the pursued.

Lots of gore.

McKinty did write THE CHAIN,an extremely powerful form of this escapism,perhaps try THE CHAIN first.

Or wait till next month when I shall suggest that this author is up there in the top echelon with Rankin,Lee Burke and McCarthy.

And no, it is not a woman.

Be patient

Ralph

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