August Recommended Reads

Australian Recent Release: Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See

The latest historical novel from New York Times bestselling author Lisa See, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China—perfect for fans of See’s classic Snowflower and the Secret Fan and The Island of Sea Women.

According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,” but Tan Yunxian—born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness—is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations—looking, listening, touching, and asking—something a man can never do with a female patient.

From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose—despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it—and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other’s joys and struggles. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.

But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife—embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.

How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions, go on to treat women and girls from every level of society, and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts? Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women. It is also a triumphant reimagining of the life of a woman who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.


“Lady Tan’s Circle of Women has everything you could want in a dramatic tale of female friendship.” – Katie Couric Media

“Based on the writings of an historical Ming dynasty female physician, See’s accomplished novel immerses readers in a fascinating life lived within a fascinating culture.” – Starred Booklist

“Engrossing…rich…packed with historical detail…Women’s friendships in a world where they have little freedom shape a quietly moving book.” – Kirkus Reviews


Tasmanian Recent Release: The Escapades of Tribulation Johnson by Karen Brooks

From the author of The Good Wife of Bath comes this brilliant recreation of the vibrant, optimistic but politically treacherous world of London’s Restoration theatre, where we are introduced to the remarkable playwright Aphra Behn, now a feminist icon but then an anomaly, who gravitated to the stage – a place where artifice and disguise are second nature and accommodates those who do not fit in.

It’s 1679 and into the tumult, politics and colour of Restoration London and its lively theatre scene comes the fierce and opinionated Tribulation Johnson. Cast out from her family as ungodly and unworthy, Tribulation is determined to forge her own remarkable path.

Arriving in London, Tribulation is astonished to discover that the widowed cousin she’s been sent to live with is none other than the most infamous woman in London: the former spy and traitor’s mistress, the playwright and polemical poetess, Aphra Behn. Tribulation cannot believe her good fortune as she is thrust into city life and the heady, mercurial milieu of the theatre. Under Aphra’s guidance, Tribulation is encouraged to write, think and speak for herself. But women aren’t supposed to have a voice, or ideas, let alone wield a pen and write for a living, and there are harsh consequences for those who don’t obey society’s rules.

Together, Aphra and Tribulation must not only face vilification and mockery but terrible danger as plots to overturn the monarchy gather pace. When someone from Aphra’s complicated past reappears, the women’s loyalties – to King, country, and ultimately each other – are bitterly tested. Can their relationship survive the burning fires of religious hatred, suspicion and deceit?

When everyone plays a part, and all the world’s a stage, who you trust?

“So damn readable and fun… This is the story of a woman fighting for her rights; it breaches the walls of history.” – The Australia

“Karen Brooks demonstrates her considerable talent for capturing the historical moment in this richly told, immersive read that will acquaint readers with a woman whose name we should all know.” – Pip Williams, author of The Bookbinder of Jericho


Kids Recent Release: Dirt by Sea by Michael Wagner, illustrated by Tom Jellett

Explore our wonderful coastline and the joy of a family road-trip with Dad and Daisy!

Featuring 40 pages of extraordinary comic-style illustrations, this unique picture book will have you dreaming of a holiday around Australia or maybe even planning a van life with the help of the journey map in the endpapers.

The hugely popular creators of Why I Love Footy and Why I Love Summer are back together with a moving family story that is also a true celebration of what we love most about the Australian landscape, family holidays and classic Kombi vans.

Daisy lives in inland Australia with her dad and her grandparents. It’s home, and she loves the red dirt land around her. But when her dad realises that she’s never seen the beach and thinks the Australian anthem is about a country ‘dirt by sea’, he sets off to show her the ocean in a once-in-a-lifetime father-daughter trip along the Australian coast, inspired by the first holiday he took with Daisy’s mum.

Along the way they will learn about Australia and much, much more…


“… vibrant and engaging… subtly poignant and deftly constructed… Both author and illustrator know exactly when to pull back and allow the other to shine and, together, they have created something rather special.” – Michael Earp, Bookseller and Publisher

“This is a joyful trip with lots to see on every colourful, detailed page where the narrative, illustrations and the comics work together seamlessly… Destined to become a classic.” – Jan Kershaw, Glamadelaide

“… a most appealing graphic novel in picture book form… about a father and daughter’s trip around Australia’s coastline… highlighting their love for each other [and] the vast and diverse beauty of Australia.” – Joy Lawn, Paperbark Words

 Tasmanian Classic: Out of Ireland by Christopher Koch

A leader of the Young Ireland rebellion of 1848, Robert Devereux is an Irish gentleman who is prepared to hazard a life of privilege in the fight for his country’s freedom. Transported to Van Diemen’s Land as a political prisoner, he enters a life that greatly changes him, falling in love with a young Irish convict woman. Through Kathleen O’Rahilly he comes to know the people he’s long romanticised; but his cause, and the life he has lost, will not let him go.

“Robert Devereux is a splendid literary invention. Koch is magnificent in Out of Ireland… he has enlarged our understanding of the capabilities of fiction.” – Michael Sharkey, Daily Telegraph

“When you have read Out of Ireland you will have joined a circle of friends who lived and loved and struggled 150 years ago, and you will wonder how long it will be before you will read as great and compelling a book again.” – Richard O’Brien, Ambassador of Ireland to Australia

“Some of the finest writing in Australian fiction.” – The Australian’s Review of Books