This Water: Five Tales



Beverley Farmer, one of Australia’s great prose stylists, and a pioneer of women’s writing, in her exploration of feminine concerns, and her use of different literary forms – novel, short story, poetry, essay, journal, myth and fairy tale.

This Water is the last work of fiction by Beverley Farmer, one of Australia’s great prose stylists, and a pioneer of women’s writing in this country. It is a collection of five interwoven tales, three of them novellas. Each has a woman at its centre: in each the women speak, act, think for themselves, in opposing or escaping from an oppressive authority.

One tale, set on the south coast of Victoria, is animated by the legend of the Great Silkie; another finds its rebellious princess in Lake Annaghmakerrig in Ireland; a third has Clytemnestra as its central figure, mourning the daughter sacrificed by her husband Agamemnon so that he could go to war with Troy – surely one of the great laments in Australian literature.

References to water and stone, ice and fire, light and darkness are woven throughout the collection, as are figures and images from myth and fairy tale – kings and brides, swans and seals, a ring of gold,  ‘the blood red of her silks’ – their power evoked by repetition and resonance, and the remarkable rhythms of Farmer’s language.


ISBN : 9781925336313
pp : 276
June 2017

Beverley Farmer is the author of three collections of short stories, including Milk, which won the NSW Premier’s Award for Fiction, the writer’s notebook A Body of Water, and the novels Alone, The Seal Woman and The House in the Light, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Her most recent book, The Bone House, a collection of essays on the life of the body and the life of the mind, was published by Giramondo in 2005.

A note from Lyn Jacobs about Beverly Farmer



The Age and Sydney Morning Herald: review by Andrew Riemer 
Sydney Review of Books: review by Susan Lever 
Australian Book Review
: review by Anna MacDonald
The Saturday Paper
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