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Main : Australian history, coming of age, family, literary

ISBN: 9781876756963
232 x 154 mm
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Bite Your Tongue
Francesca Rendle-Short
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Mrs Angel Rendle-Short said that a book given to her daughter, Francesca, as an English textbook at school would teach her to be a permissive rebel
.—Courier Mail, 1975

Bite Your Tongue
is a story of great heart. It is the story of a teenage girl’s growing up in Queensland during the 1970s, the daughter of a morals crusader: Angel Rendle-Short / Mother Joy Solider. The tale is thoroughly embedded in Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s conservative Queensland; a time of great social change for the whole of Australia.

The narrator’s family is characterised by the fervour of religious fundamentalism and extremism, which manifested itself in Angel’s highly public, right wing activism. Bite Your Tongue is also the story of the daughter as an adult and a writer, facing her mother’s mortality while at the same time ‘discovering’ her in archival materials.

These threads are woven together in a mix of novel and memoir, each informing and illuminating the other with their different voices, making Bite Your Tongue a highly original work. Using this unusual and fascinating form, Francesca presents a personal social history, documenting a strong, conservative protest movement with a very real list of books to ban and to burn.

While harrowing at times, Bite Your Tongue also displays a superb lightness of touch, and a great joy in the power of language. It is an investigation into the very nature of storytelling, displaying great humour and heart.

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2012 Shortlist, The Colin Roderick Award
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Bite Your Tongue is by turns entertaining and challenging ... Perhaps most importantly, though, in its structural and figurative modes, Rendle-Short’s narrative lends its voice to a tradition of Queensland women’s writing in a growing cacophony of many tongues.
Jessica Gildersleeve, Queensland Review

Rendle-Short effectively embraces the hybrid nature of this work, and the transitions between the two narratives are seamless. It is a fascinating and horrifying time in Australian history, brought to life with a deft use of language. You can almost feel the sweat on the kitchen lino and smell the mustiness of the nursing home...

Kimberely Allsopp, Bookseller & Publisher

What a potent mix—a daughter torn in her loyalties to her overbearing parent, and a mother hell-bent on getting to heaven by banning ungodly school texts. Rendle-Short traverses the remembered minefield with candour, grief and something like wonder.

Cate Kennedy, author of The World Beneath
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