Recent books by our members



Brenda Fitzpatrick: Gwennie’s Girl (2019)

The blurb: “This is a visceral, engaging and demanding debut novel by a well-travelled author with first-hand experience in a variety of war zones and a PhD in International Politics. It is the story of Lizzie who is no hero. She is a coward who has fled Australia, an abusive and loveless existence and the sorrow of being abandoned by her loving mother, Gwennie, and her redoubtable nanna. She lands a job in Geneva, travelling to war zones and refugee camps, and gradually comes to relish her new independence. Physically, Lizzie survives. Emotionally, she shuts down, closing her mind to memories, nursing anger and feeling of guilt, and determined never to let herself be vulnerable again. She has what she thinks is a one-night stand with a war photographer. But eventually she has to choose whether to stay safe in emotional isolation or take another risk—trust someone else. After all, she is Gwennie’s and Nanna’s girl. The decision is made.

Brenda’s previous book, Tactical Rape in War and Conflict (2016), was about the use of rape as a deliberate tactic of war and how this is a serious human rights issue that needs to be addressed as a threat to human and international security. Brenda has a PhD in International Politics and extensive experience in refugee camps and conflict zones.

Brian Ellis: The New Enlightenment: On Steven Pinker and Beyond (2019)

Brian says: “This book, like the last one (on Rationalism) in 2017, was written while teaching U3A courses at Nillumbik, and the members of my classes all participated in the development of one or more of its themes.

The blurb: “Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now establishes that great progress has been made on the aims of the European Enlightenment. However, the minds of many economists, moralists and political thinkers in the West are still set firmly in the eighteenth century. The progress has been due mainly to the physical scientific revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the industrial revolutions they generated. But a new enlightenment is needed now to overcome this poverty of social theory, and bring our economists and political theorists up to date in the socially connected, commercially integrated, and existentially threatened world of the 21st century.

Previous books by Brian include:

Brian Seymour: 100 years – Electrical Contracting in Australia (2016)

The material covers everything from gas lighting to fibre optics.

Other, recent technical publications by Brian include:

  • Electrical Estimators Labour Unit Manual 16th edition (2018).
  • Electrical Contracting & Tendering (2016).
  • Starting Out, for new electrical contractors 5th edition (2015).

Brian has been writing articles for Electrical Connection magazine since 1998.

Cathy Guinness: Rubber Justice: Dr Harry Guinness and the Congo Reform Campaign (2017)

The blurb: “Combining family and colonial history, this book tells the story of the Congo Free State from the perspective of human rights advocates. From 1885 to 1908 King Leopold II of Belgium was busy exploiting Congolese labour to produce a maximum amount of wild rubber for minimum cost, intent on enriching himself in a booming rubber market. The shameful abuses during this period cost the lives of millions of Congolese. This is an account of the whistleblowers – travellers, missionaries and administrators – who fought this corruption, often at great personal cost. The work of the Congo Reform Association in the UK is described, with a focus on the three founders: Roger Casement, Edmund Morel, and the author’s grandfather Dr Harry Guinness. Guinness was the London-based leader of the Congo Balolo Mission in the upper Congo where the worst atrocities were committed. Of special interest is a re-examination of the political role played by missionaries in achieving reform.

You can buy the book online on the Lulu website or by contacting Cathy by email (

Chris Winkett: A Long Way from Where I Started (2018)

This is a memoir about Chris’s young life in England and her family’s migration story. Instead of selling the memoir at her book launch, Chris gave the books away but offered people the opportunity to donate to the Asylum Resource Centre and this raised nearly $1,000 for the cause.

Christine Durham: Unlocking my Brain: Through the Labyrinth of Acquired Brain Injury (2014)

In 1991, Christine was in a car accident. As a result, she was trapped by her broken brain, life and spirit – she was unable to walk, talk, see or think properly. In reaction, she wrote Doing Up Buttons to help people understand brain injury. As a result of the response to that book, she completed a PhD and wrote Unlocking my Brain: Through the Labyrinth of Acquired Brain Injury.

Here’s the blurb for that latter book: “This extraordinarily courageous story reveals the incredible plasticity of the human spirit as much as the plasticity of the human brain. From a confusing and terrifying existence, to international regard, Dr. Christine Durham MEd shares the moments that changed her life … For Christine, trying to navigate the brain injury experience was like negotiating a labyrinth with no clues in sight. Using unconventional methods, Christine was able to re-build her life and become the inspirational leader she is today. This book shares her path to recovery with others who are in search of answers, understanding and acceptance.

In 2017, Christine (with Paul Ramcharan) wrote an academic book entitled Insight into Acquired Brain Injury Factors for Feeling and Faring Better to help professionals gain greater awareness of the lived experience of brain injury.

Dianne Parslow: The Emu Family Outing (2016)

This is a children’s book with Australian animals and a road safety message. Click here to read the book for free!

Graeme Sparkes: Macaulay Station (2019)

The blurb: “Macaulay Station is a lament. Lost to Frank is his close friend Charlie, dead just one year, his career a casualty of the technological revolution, his youth to the tyranny of time. It’s his fifty-fifth birthday and Julia, his partner for thirty years, has decided to spend the day in someone else’s company. Frank fears she has taken a lover. At a loose end, he travels by train into the city, intending to go to the State Library to begin the novel he always said he would write one day, and passing through Macaulay Station, he sees his dead friend, Charlie, standing on the platform. A novel for all who have anxious moments about the future.

Previous books by Graeme include: You Never Met My Father (2014).

Helen Joynt: A Foot Wide on the Edge of Nowhere (2019)

Helen’s book is a biography of her parents, Theo and Olive, who worked missionaries in China for several decades, where their service spanned the Japanese War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The book is available from Yarra Plenty Regional Library.

The blurb: “Theo Simpkin is a young science student at the University of Melbourne when he senses God’s call to share the good news with the people of China. Meanwhile Olive Kettle, an Australian country girl, is working for a Melbourne CBD accountant while helping to support her widowed mother. Theo departs, traveling more than 8000 kilometres to commence his ministry in China, yet the divine matchmaker was at work in both their lives. Discover Theo’s and Olive’s struggles to find God’s will for their futures, despite the distance and difficulties they face. Featuring frequent quotes from letters written by Theo and Olive, this book provides an intimate glimpse into what life was like in the rugged mountains of Yunnan, China, as they encounter a unit of the Red Army on the famed Long March, endured the Japanese invasion and lived through the Communist revolution. This biography follows Theo and Olive wherever God led them – in Australia, China and India – showing his care and provision as two ordinary Australians travel along A Foot Wide on the Edge of Nowhere. Despite persecution and hardship – as witnessed by a brief update from Christians now living in Yunnan – God’s Word continues to bear fruit with joy.

John Jenkins: Poems Far and Wide (2019)

The blurb: “This very lively collection contains a wide sweep of poems, many of them prize-winning, taking readers on a remarkable journey. Some look to the past, others to the future, but all are of their time: the reverberating now. The tone is contemporary and bold, while the poet’s sensibility tends to favour an eclectic inclusiveness. Uniformly, this wide-ranging and poetically engaging collection demands to be enjoyed.

Previous books by John include:

Kay Rennie (aka Lily Milner): Alias Lord John (2020)

Kay Rennie writes novels set in the Regency era under the pen name Lily Milner. She has written 6 such novels in the last few years, the latest of which Alias Lord John was published in September 2020.

Here’s the start of the blurb: “Two men who have never met before but share an uncanny resemblance agree to exchange places. Tristan Rigal is an adventurer just returned from France. Lord John is an English lord with a problem – he needs to be in two places at once. Rigal steps into the lord’s shoes and instantly becomes the owner of a huge estate, a mistress, a wife and an attractive accomplice who says she is a distant cousin. Lord John leaves England on a secret mission. Meanwhile, Rigal is left to sort out the lord’s affairs while carefully guarding secrets of his own. Will Lord John come back and return to his lordly life as planned, or will Rigal be forced to continue in his role of rakish aristocrat?

You can buy Kay’s novels on Amazon and she has a website. Her other recent novels are:

Len Vardy: Readings From The Courthouse and Other Poems (2016)

Previous books by Len include Dances Of Life and Death.

Lesley Wing Jan: Write Ways: Modelling Writing Forms, 4th edition (2015)

The blurb: “Covering a broad range of text types – both factual and fictional – ‘Write Ways’ is the foremost guide to teaching children how to write in different styles and genres. Including all the essential tools for teaching children how to write in different styles, it is an invaluable resource for pre-service teachers throughout their degrees, and a great reference to take into the classroom.

Previous books by Lesley include: Smart Thinking: Developing Reflection And Metacognition (2008).

Rebecca Hayman: The Fraught Ambitions of a Man (2018)

The blurb: “Li Fu Lai just wants one thing: To be accepted as a man. But with a stutter like his, the minor matter of not being able to read and the intractable lack of an identity card, what hope does he have? Modern, sophisticated China has little patience. The Fraught Ambitions of a Man is the story of one man’s struggle to move beyond a brutal childhood. It’s the story of the friends who walk with him, each loving him in their own flawed way. And it’s the story of the miracle that surprises them all.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the book, contact Rebecca by email (

Previous books by Rebecca include:

Sabi Buehler: Slaying Dragons all on my Own (2019)

The story is about an older woman, Mia Steinberg, who breaks down in tears while at a writers’ group. This leads her to reflect on a distressing incident in her past which changed the trajectory of her life.

Sabi previously published a memoir about her mother’s life and arrival in Australia called A Life in Two Suitcases: Gundel’s Story (2014). The blurb: “Gundel’s story takes place at a time of great upheaval and social change. She is born into a comfortable middle class family in pre -war Germany. She is bright, articulate and talented and looks forward to a promising career. That is, until Hitler rises to power. Because her mother is Jewish, she loses her home, several members of her family are forced to flee and her parents do not survive the war. When peace comes she is at last able to marry and despite struggling to make a living, she enjoys a brief period of happiness. Then another personal tragedy strikes. Hoping to leave those memories behind, Gundel agrees to move to Australia. It is not the way she imagined. Life is hard. Homesickness, loneliness and culture shock take their toll and like many of that first generation of post war migrants, she dies before her time . Nevertheless, Gundel’s writing and drawings show that she never lost her sense of humour or her delight in the beauty of nature and the small joys of everyday life.

Tess Evans: The Ballad of Banjo Crossing (2017)

The start of the blurb: “A tender, heartwarming and utterly appealing novel about the power of community, love, loss and second chances. Jack McPhail is a man on the run from his past, a drifter who lands by accident in a sleepy outback Australian town called Banjo Crossing. Jack – almost despite himself – becomes slowly drawn into the town, its community, its characters and its concerns. He’s on the brink of falling in love with Mardi, a young widow and owner of the local coffee shop, when the community is confronted and divided by an unexpected development. A coal mining company has come to town, intent on buying up the local properties to build an open cut mine. The town of Banjo Crossing rallies together to fight off the threat. Jack wants to help out his new friends, but if he does, he’s at risk of his past being exposed.

Tess has a website. In September 2020, she was interviewed by Eltham bookshop.

Previous books by Tess include: