The Steele Diaries

The Steele Diaries

by Wendy James
published 2008
Ligature finest
genre Historical Fiction · Literary Fiction · Mystery

e-book · $9.99

print + e-book · $32.99

Zelda Steele is destined for great things. The talented daughter of two celebrity artists, raised by wealthy art patrons in Sydney’s sixties art scene, artistic success is hers for the taking. But Zelda dies young, leaving only the possibility of the artist she could have become—as well as two young children and the rumour of secret diaries.

Years later, Zelda’s daughter Ruth returns to her hometown to search for those diaries. What she finds there takes her deep into the mysteries of her parents’ and grandparents’ lives, and shifts the foundations of her own.

Weaving together the lives of three very different women across three eras, The Steele Diaries is a rich triptych of the tensions between ambition and responsibility, art and family, the past and present and future.

‘This is an excellent second novel by Australian author Wendy James. Artfully woven in the form of diaries and letters, James presents the interconnecting stories of three female protagonists who are bound by blood ties and generational inheritance—both good and toxic. The writing is sharp, incisive and compassionate without any trace of sentimentality. This thoroughly compelling and beautifully composed story of prominent Sydney artists is full of insight, humour, intelligence and honesty. A profoundly satisfying read, it has universal and personal resonance.’ —The Sun–Herald

‘As a fan of Out of the Silence, the author’s award-winning debut, I had high hopes for this second effort—and it didn’t disappoint. The Steele Diaries is a wonderful exploration of the tricky relationship between motherhood and art.’ —Who Weekly

‘The considerable strength of The Steele Diaries is its exploration of the creative drive and its effect upon feminine subjectivity … I found The Steele Diaries most satisfying and look forward to more from Wendy James.’ —Australian Book Review

‘This novel reminds us how hard the fight was for women’s rights, and how some issues (childcare, contraception) remain contentious. Yet its historical recreation is achieved via characters who are flesh and blood, and who touch the reader. Recommended.’ —Lucy Sussex, Sunday Age