In this acclaimed autobiography, Dorothy Hewett, renowned playwright and novelist, traces the personal and political metamorphoses of her first thirty-five years. A woman who challenged sexual and political conventions, she combines in Wild Card the passions of her life with her power as a writer, creating a classic of people, place and history.After university, several faIn this acclaimed autobiography, Dorothy Hewett, renowned playwright and novelist, traces the personal and political metamorphoses of her first thirty-five years. A woman who challenged sexual and political conventions, she combines in Wild Card the passions of her life with her power as a writer, creating a classic of people, place and history.After university, several failed love affairs, an attempted suicide and a major poetry prize, Dorothy Hewett joined the Australian Communist Party in 1945. Four years later she left her first husband and moved to Sydney's Redfern with her lover, a boilermaker. Hers has been a life of extremes: the pleasures and purgatories of a woman who tackled everything placed in her path with a searing honesty, energy and intellect....
|Number of Pages||:||599 Pages|
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Wild Card Reviews
I had read about Dorothy Hewett as the writer of "Bobbin Up",a very confronting book about a group of women who try to bringabout changes in their workplace in a textile factory in Alexandria, Sydney. I used to go past it in the train every day- a really dirty, looming place. She also shockingly left herfirst husband and little child to run off with her lover, aboilermaker and committed Communist. How is this woman going tocommand a reader's sympathy - but she does!!Initially you get a beautiful memoir, all about growing up ona remote property in Wickepin, Western Australia, doing correspondencelessons on an old butter box desk. There is also conflict with herparents as she struggles to reconcile the overweight, often angrymother with the fading pictures of a young vibrant girl who lovedcompany and conversations. Hewett feels her mother married the wrong man - her father was a brooding intellectual, a loner who findsit hard to show his real feelings. Her family were prosperous farmersand the depression didn't really touch them - although how they madetheir money was pretty sketchy. They were never in want and werealways able to live in the finest style, with golf clubs, privatecolleges etc. At one point Hewett says if any familymember needed somewhere to stay a house would be bought for them asher father had a hatred of renting!!Dorothy comes into her own at high school - she becomes the "residentgenius of 6B" and forms binding friendships with photographer BettyPicken and the mysterious Lilla Harper (who Hewett seems to implywas her lover). On to university where she becomes a lost soul -"the University bike" as a friend jokingly refers to her. Afterwinning a major poetry prize she sells the publishing rights to thefirst magazine that comes calling which happens to be "Reader'sDigest" so when the far more prestigious "Meanjin" wants to publishshe has to refuse. Life becomes too hectic and there is a suicideattempt, told in a serio/comic style which has her mother pouring salt and water down her throat which she vomits up in the hospital.Impulsively she marries Lloyd Davies hoping to give her life somesteadiness - they are different in temperament and both committedCommunists but it doesn't work. Hewett is a true Bohemian and themany affairs don't stop because of marriage and a baby - as well asa visit to an abortionist!!Her meeting and eloping with Les Flood was not her first opportunityof leaving Lloyd. The last half of the book shows how her escape from Perth (where she was the petted favourite of the Party. Sheseemed to have this ability to be able to make men her slaves ieshe always told Lloyd about her conquests and he always seemed totake it very well. And while she often comments on being the beautyof the family, photos show her as being pretty average in the looksdepartment). To Sydney, which brings her up against the sheer realityof desperate poverty. Les Flood was a charismatic type who swept heroff her feet but he was not the adoring pushover she was used to.People hinted that he was "mad" (Hewett later says he was a paranoidschizophrenic and that she, who did a course in abnormal psychology,lived with him for so many years but it just didn't click!!) Shetries to lose herself in an insane amount of activity, printingand delivering leaflets, writing articles for "The Tribune" - alltaking place at a time in the early fifties when Prime MinisterMenzies was going all out in an attempt to have the Party banned.She and Les go on a speaking tour of Russia and China where Hewettdetails the strange, secretive behaviour of the peasants who aresupposed to be welcoming them with open arms. Several years laterwhen the atrocities of Stalin become known to the world Hewett writesthat she felt so worthless and a fool!!So much happens in this book with the swiftness of a runaway freighttrain - it is impossible to believe the book only details events upto 1959!! Just when Dorothy is at her lowest she finds a job inthe advertising department of Waltons Department store and begins to write again. Recalling the gossip and stories she listened to when she worked at the Alexandria Textile mill nearly ten years before and afterhaving been short listed for the "Woman's Weekly Short Story Competition", she begins to form "Bobbin Up". But in the midst of all this there is the desperate flight of an abused wife, stealthilysnatching her children from school and secretly boarding a planeto take her back to Western Australia.Just a fantastic read, whatever you think about her politics, DorothyHewett is a survivor as well as a born writer.