Month: May 2022

Book review – Dinner with the Schnabels, by Toni Jordan

Title: Dinner with the Schnabels

Author: Toni Jordan

Publisher: Hachette, 30 March 2022; RRP: $32.99

Toni Jordan is an established Australian author with six novels to her credit. Amongst her well-known works are Addition in 2008 and the Miles Franklin longlisted historical novel Nine Days in 2011. Nine Days was also judged Best Fiction in 2012 at the Indie Awards. Toni has received numerous other prizes and accolades for her writing and holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a PhD in Creative Arts. She lives in Melbourne.

Dinner with the Schnabels is an entertaining, fast moving, funny and relatable story that ranges over a one-week period. Simon Larsen is having a tough time. He’s lost his job and business and he and his wife, Tansy, and their two children have moved to a cramped flat after being forced to sell their former home. Tansy now works full time and Simon spends time on the couch, his self-worth in tatters and struggling daily for motivation.

Tansy’s family, her mother, sister and brother are heavily involved in her life and add to the pressure Simon feels to get his life in order. He agrees to take on a hurried backyard landscaping job for a friend who is to host a special event for the Schnabels. Simon has from Monday to Saturday to complete the undertaking before the big occasion on Sunday.

A relative who is unknown to them arrives and Tansy takes her in despite the difficulties the family is under. Monica has alternative ideas and views about life and comes and goes at all hours. In the meantime, Simon procrastinates with the backyard overhaul but convinces his in-laws, Tansy, and himself that he is on track for completion for Sunday. He is also worried about Tansy and the future of their relationship as he discovers she is holding a secret from him.

Toni Jordan on writing

at the garret

This is a modern-day depiction of life in the fast lane and how quickly life can unravel when circumstances change. The story delves into the daily struggles, ambitions, and pressures from extended families.  Simon, Tansy and their children, Mia and Lachie, are lovable and funny and at times sad and reactive. The reader is invited to travel with them, particularly with Simon who is suffering emotionally and yet trying to pretend otherwise. His agonising, lingering procrastination brings tension and frustration as the time ticks by and the backyard work remains unfinished.

The characters are vibrant, well developed and stay in the reader’s head well after the last page is turned. There are several twists and turns laced with anticipation that keeps the story galloping along at an enjoyable pace until the very end. Does Simon make the deadline?  What happens on the day?

Toni Jordan’s Dinner with the Schnabels is relevant to current-day life and is a laugh aloud reading experience.

Review by: Heather Whitford Roche

Ballarat Writers Book Review Group 2022

Review copy provided by the publisher

The 2022 Pamela Miller Prize

It’s that time of the year again with the Pamela Miller Prize, our annual flash fiction competition.

The winner of the Pamela Miller Prize will receive a certificate and $100 first prize, as well as publication in the Ballarat Writers newsletter and website. The winner will be announced at the Ballarat Writers July members’ night. 

The Pamela Miller Prize first ran in 2015, in memory of Pamela Miller, who was a very active and productive member of Ballarat Writers. She was a writer of short stories and poetry, and won the short story competition with ‘Murder at MADE’ in 2014. Early in 2015, Pamela wrote a very popular poem called ‘Bronze Heads—The Prime Minister’s Walk’ as part of a Ballarat Writers project during the Begonia Festival.

Entries open: Sunday 1st May

Entries close: Wednesday 1st June

Ballarat Writers is accepting fictional prose entries of up to 500 words on the theme Something Overhead. Entry is free. 

This is limited to members of Ballarat Writers, so make sure you’ve joined or renewed your membership!

All entries must:

  • be original and unpublished
  • be written by a current member of Ballarat Writers (committee members are not allowed to enter)
  • engage with the theme Something Overhead, and be 500 words in length or less (not including the title
  • be sent to competitions@ballaratwriters.com with the subject line, ‘2022 Pamela Miller Prize Entry’

As the competition will be a blind judging, please do not include your name or contact details on the entry. 

You can read more about the Pamela Miller prize here.

Good luck and happy writing!

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