All posts by gcw

Reorganisation of Castle and Vale complete

I thought it better that I complete the adjustments to The Castle of Heavenly Bliss and In this Vale of Tears immediately. It was a matter of moving chapters either from one to the other, or to the first book which I will begin as soon as I have finished with Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution. The reorganised editions of The Castle of Heavenly Bliss and In This Vale Tears are now available on Smashwords and

Tony Abbott and women

One of the constant slanders of Tony Abbott is that he is misogynist, doesn’t understand women, and works against their interests. This is despite the evidence speaking against this slander. As my book on Tony Abbott in which I refute this slander, is ready for publication, it is useful to include here the testimony of someone who knows Tony better than anyone else, his wife Margie. The following is an intervention Margie thought necessary during the 2013 federal election when the abuse reached its peak.

DURING my husband Tony’s 18 years as a Member of Parliament, I have never sought to enter the political fray or to publicly comment on issues.

As the girls were growing up, Tony and I worked hard to keep politics out of our home.

It was only at the last election, with the girls old enough to make their own decisions, we decided as a family to get involved and get out and campaign with Tony.

We wanted to get involved because we are very proud of Tony and we know first-hand the type of man he is really is.

Tony has always supported me in everything I have done from working at different times while the children were growing up, going back to study as a mature student and then working as a director of a community childcare centre.

As a father, he has always been the softest touch and has a gentle manner that has not changed as our girls have grown up.

He is, in my life and theirs, the most optimistic person you could meet. Obstacles are simply seen as challenges to overcome.

In recent weeks, it has become clear to me and the girls that there is a deliberate campaign under way trying to raise doubts about Tony and his relationship with women. As the woman who knows him best and who has lived with Tony Abbott for over 24 years, I know these distortions are not true.

Tony gets women. He is surrounded by strong women. He grew up with three sisters, has three daughters, is supported by a female deputy in Julie Bishop and has always had a female chief of staff.

Our daughters are living the life that feminists aspire for every woman. Bridget is studying radiology, Frances is studying design and Louise is now working in Europe.

Our girls are educated, confident, grounded and happy young women making their own way in the world and the love and support of their father has played a big part in that.

Tony was the first leader of a major political party to put the case for a paid parental leave scheme – and not a paid parental leave scheme based on a minimum wage, but a paid parental leave scheme based on a replacement wage. Tony gets these issues because we face the challenges most families face.

We’ve raised three children, been paying off a mortgage, battled traffic, juggled work and family, and have always tried to give something back to the family, friends and community that have given us so much.

The people who run the negative arguments about Tony do women a disservice to suggest that somehow, because a man has the cauliflower ears of a rugby player, continues to play sport and spends a fair number of weekends volunteering as a firefighter or lifesaver, that somehow it is all proof that he is a boofy bloke who is anti-women.

If Tony was anti-women why did he cycle 1000km this year raising $150,000 for the local women’s refuge? That same ride also raised over $500,000 for Carers Australia.

Tony does get women, he just doesn’t get bad policy and a bad government. He was a minister for nine years, so he can debate issues on their merits.

It is issues that face families daily and the challenges facing our nation should be debated and not untrue, personal attacks.

I’m not a politician and I enjoy a private life, but I won’t stand by and let others claim that the man I love has some agenda against women. Bridget, Louise, Frances and I know it’s not true.

Announcement about the Winterbine Tetralogy


When I began writing The Castle of Heavenly Bliss, I had no intention of writing a series. I had been writing for several months, however, when I saw  there was another story arising out of chapter 4, ‘The Pale Angel’. And when I finished the second book, In This Vale of Tears, I realised the story, though complete, was in a way left hanging.  How would the main characters fare after they made the decisions that ended the story – or rather ended that phase in their lives? A third story formed in my head.  Those who loved the first two books know there has been a long gap between the second book and the third.  I am frequently asked when the third will be ready.

The way I had written the first two books presented some problems. Because the second book developed the backstory of Aine O’Riordan/Winterbine, it was mostly chronologically before the first.  One of the problems came into sharp relief when the Catholic Reading Club in Melbourne discussed In This Vale of Tears at one of their meetings.  One reader thought there was an abrupt transition in the story.  She was right. That was because the information that would make the transition less abrupt was in The Castle of Heavenly Bliss. A second issue, something that had always bothered me, is the length of The Castle of Heavenly Bliss. It is too long, due mainly to the lengthy backstory at the beginning.

I had been contemplating these problems since the reading club evening when the solution suddenly occurred to me – strangely enough deep in the night. I would take the backstory out of The Castle of Heavenly Bliss, shift one chapter from The Castle of Heavenly Bliss to In This Vale of Tears and take two chapters out of In This Vale of Tears to form the basis of a new novel with the backstory from The Castle of Heavenly Bliss (three chapters). The fourth book, envisaged originally as the third,  will carry on from In This Vale of Tears to form The Winterbine Tetralogy.

The new novel would be the first novel in the series with In This Vale of Tears the second, and The Castle of Heavenly Bliss the third. The chronological sequence would then be right. The first novel will develop the story of Fr van Engelen and his niece Anneke with the location of the story in Holland and England (Middelburg, Amsterdam and London). New characters will appear. The period will be from 1946 to 1972. The social background will be the 1960s student revolution.  There will be no change to the established story although I will have to make adjustments in The Castle of Heavenly Bliss. This first book, as yet without a title, will provide the groundwork for the following three books.

I will begin writing Book One (no title as yet) in January 2019 after I have finished with Tony Abbott: The Times of Revolution. Stay alert for developments. 

A writing holiday at Burleigh Heads

I have just returned from a five week holiday at Burleigh Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast. It’s a terrific place for a holiday. It’s also a great place for writing inspiration. We had a unit on the headland overlooking the surf breaking against the rocks. Further along was the beach that stretches mile or so to Little Burleigh.

I rose early, listen to the news, and began writing by 8 am.  At 10 am my wife and I listened to the Dutch news on SBS. Then we went for a 45 minute walk along the beach after which I continued writing. Each time I looked up there was the rocks, the blue water, the blue sky, and sometimes the boardriders on their waves. The scene reminded me of my visit to Dickens’s house at Broadstairs. He had a writing alcove on the staircase landing which overlooked the sea – The English Channel. Below are some photos of Burleigh in 2015 and 1957.

Update on my Tony Abbott book

I have finished the first major revision of Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution. I’ve added two more chapters to the first draft. Shortly I will begin  my second intense revision using the two editing programs Grammarly and ProWritingAid, both of which I can recommend. It will take another six weeks to bring the manuscript to  publishing stage. I will be looking for a publisher.

Celebrating the Genius of Jane Austen 200 years after her death

Australian politics is full of well known figures that resemble characters from Jane Austen novels, notes Paul Brunton, emeritus curator of the State Library of NSW.

Be they the “pompous, the stupid, the self-serving, the snobbish, the superficial and less often the sensible and altruistic”.

It is Austen’s ability to create characters recognisable in contemporary society – to “dissect human nature with the skill of a surgeon” – that marks her genius, says Brunton, and one reason among many to observe the 200th anniversary of the author’s death this Tuesday.

While the cause of Austen’s untimely death in Winchester, July 18, 1817, is disputed, a series of public events have been planned to celebrate the life and works of the novelist who wrote three classics of English literature before the age of 25. Read on…

Jane Austen and the State of the Nation

A review of Jane Austen and the State of the Nation by Laura Boyle

Jane Austen is universally acknowledged as an excellent writer with a fine grasp of the human condition. Her ever increasing number of fans, her inclusion in nearly every list of worthy writers and English Literature syllabi, her marketability and timeless appeal have created what might be called an international mania. Many would attribute her success to her wit and way with words, others to the age old stories of love and romance that she tells. It seems, however, as if there was more, much more, just beneath the surface: undertones and even overt messages that Jane Austen’s readers would have seen, but which are, for the most part, lost to today’s readers. After all, as Jane herself (in the guise of omniscient narrator) explains in Northanger Abbey:

“Oh! It is only a novel!…It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.”

I have, over the past few months, had the great privilege of first hearing and then reading the works of celebrated Austen scholar and international speaker, Dr. Sheryl Craig. The talk she addressed to our JASNA gathering in November, entitled “So Ended a Marriage”, looked at Mansfield Park in light of the divorce and custody laws current during Jane Austen’s day. Drawing from actual divorce transcripts, she carefully laid out a plausible defense for Austen’s use of the novel as political statement about the rights of women and their treatment as property. An abridged version of this talk can be found on Sarah Emsley’s Mansfield Park site, and the entirety has been printed in JASNA’s Persuasions #36. Read on…


Edmund Burke Society meeting

Last Friday  evening (22 June) I attended the June seminar/meeting of the Edmund Burke Society at restaurant Pure South Dining – south because it selects its produce from Tasmania. Vigorous discussion about Burke’s crucial notion of ‘natural feeling’ in moral judgement compared with aspects of Marx’s dialect. Most enjoyable evening. Photos from my mobile phone. Quality not terrific. (See Edmund Burke Society website.)


Visit to Long Jetty

I recently visited Long Jetty at Tuggerah Lakes on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Tuggerah Lakes was a popular family picnic and holiday area in the 1940s and 1950s. Mum and Dad took us kids there regularly in the early 1950s. Unfortunately the place where everyone used to picnic and swim is now overgrown with a green weedy fungus. Our stay at Long Jetty all those years ago will feature in my third book on the family history. Here are some comparative photos (now and then) of Long Jetty. It was a terrific place for kids. The water was shallow up to a hundred yards from the shore. I’m the youngest of the three children, The others are of course my older brother and sister.

First draft of my Abbott book is being reviewed

I finished the first draft of Tony Abbott and the Times of Revolution two weeks ago. It is now out for a preliminary opinion on its shape and content by someone familiar with the period (1960s and 1970s). I will undertake an intensive revision of the text as soon as the manuscript (plus comments) is returned. It will be a couple of months, at least, before the book is in publishable form.