Faces in the Street
a novel by Pip Wilson
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Read the entire book for free in online preview (PDF file)
Purchase at lowest price ($AU29.95) here
Unsolicited readers' reviews
Good stuff – experientially, politically, anecdotally, stylistically, narratively, romantically, alcoholically. What more can one say?
Douglas Houston, PhD (co-editor of the Oxford Good Fiction Guide)
What a ride!
Anita Wynn, USA, poet, author of Speaking in Tongues (writing as 'Autolykos') and White Horses
I expected this book to be rather regional in its appeal, but it so far exceeded those expectations as to be surprising. It's not really about Australians, so much as it is an examination of two humans who love one another, but are so different that their life is a roller-coaster ride. An extraordinary story, by an extraordinary man. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in poetry, history, or activism ... or anyone who just likes a rollicking good read.
June de Jonge, Australia
A must for every high school library.
Gasping for air
David Wilson (no relation), USA
All I can say is 'wow'. The glossary was heavily used, but that's to the good. The reader is plunged into turn-of-the-century Australia to emerge at its end gasping for air and sad for Australia's loss, and wanting more.
How to write interesting history
Barry Simiana, author, Australia
I hate history. Always have. Don't like biographies, never have. But I read this piece about one of our country's greatest writers and was engrossed. Pip holds true to the era, opens some doors and adds to the mystery that is the Lawson phenomenon. And as there seems to be a 'Henry revival' thing happening at the moment, what better time for this book to be released. Congratulations Pip on a job well done.
Aussie history the world should be reading
diinwy, editor, USA
Henry Lawson may be on an Australian $10 banknote, but how many people really know why? This book will tell you, with a thoroughness rarely found in history novels, what both Henry and his mother, Louisa, did to merit the accolades that later years have shown they richly deserved.
Written with wit and a charming style, Faces in the Street brings to life the people and happenings of the late 1800s and early 1900s, not only in Australia, but unveils how these events shaped what was happening in the rest of the world.
A lovely book full of character – and characters – for readers on any continent. As an American, I thoroughly enjoyed this read! I can only hope the author is planning another book so I'll have something really interesting from which to learn and in which I can take great pleasure!!!
The dialogue is simply brilliant
Judith Guest, Spain
Faces in the Street is a book you don't want to put down to fit in boring stuff like eating, sleeping, shopping, and going to work. You just want to go on riding the wave that rolls through its 500-odd pages of high-impact paragraphs that make each chapter a delight to read. Pip Wilson's style is wonderfully vivid in its evocations of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Australia. The enormous cast of characters surrounding Lawson all serve their entertaining turns in bringing such remarkable vitality to the book. The dialogue is simply brilliant – the great Australian idiom leaps out of every page in all its unique combinations of hammerhead candour and poetic eloquence with a force that makes the reader feel part of every episode in the unfolding of Henry's life. Wilson writes with such feeling for his subject that there were times when I just wanted to grab Henry and give him a dam' good shaking!
Anne Therese Margis, USA
Reading the online preview, I was so engrossed in following a rat along a 19th century Aussie alleyway, I was shocked to discover I had to use a 21st century mouse to turn the page. I've been a Pip Wilson Almanac reader for years, and can't wait to spend an evening with him in a full-length narrative. I recommend you plan to do the same.
Transporting the reader
Denis Rice, Australia
You definitely have the knack of transporting the reader back to the time of Henry and Louisa. In the words of Eleanor Farjeon's poem 'Books', I consider your book to be a great example of the reader being gently made to "sail along the page to some other land or age ...".
Sylvia de Vanna, England
Although this is a novel, the author has painstakingly researched the characters so that what we read is history made easy.
Great insight into the workings of the poet's mind
Misty Hanley, Australia
Step back into history ...
Feel the pavement beneath your feet ...
Enter the world of Henry; watch the founding of Australia's current political parties, and the lives of the real working-class heroes,
A time when alcohol was a way of life for many, and how it ruins lives.
A time when women made definite moves to correct an unjust system of inequality.
The timelessness and sorrow of love unfulfilled.
History comes alive!
Even if you don't follow all of the politics you can still watch a young Australia flex her wings in the world ...
A great book for young Australians to listen to the language of a young Australia, slang from the 19th century. And to reflect on the perils of alcoholism. And to equate the power of language and perils in our own time.
Mostly the book, with its snippets of Lawson's poetry, gives great insight into the workings of the poet's mind, his huge grasp of the beauty and power of words despite his illiteracy, and a reflection of the times in the art of poetry.
Written with pathos and humour and honesty.
Phenomenal, evocative and vivid
Skip Williamson, internationally famous cartoonist, USA
Some months ago when we had little spate of email communication I had a chance to read your chapter 'The Death of Henry Lawson'. At the time I meant to get back to you. Which I didn't do. But the thought has stayed with me.
I just want you to know (for what it's worth) that I think your writing about Mr. Lawson's death is phenomenal, evocative and vivid.
Humour abounds in the novel
Ron Marke, Fellowship of Australian Writers, NSW, Inc, Mid North Coast Regional
Pip Wilson ... self-published his gripping historical novel ... humour abounds in the novel ... I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pip's book, and well appreciated his thorough research that gave ... a wonderful insight into Henry's life and times. It's a great read.
Poets and politics 'downunder'
For a non-Australian like me, Faces ticked many boxes: it was entertaining, funny, sad, amazing, and informative. I hadn't done much history at school (my history teacher at second level was truly uninspiring) and I certainly hadn't learned much about Australia. The history I did learn about my own country was typically a list of battles lost and won, kings, queens, leaders of armies and of rebellions. But no social history, no understanding of ordinary people's lives, how they made their livings or engaged with the politics of the day. If someone had handed me a Faces in the Street – but written about my own country – I'd have gobbled it up back then.
Pip Wilson's novel gave me that and more about Australia. It is carefully researched and places the story within a framework of national and international events of the time.
Faces is set in the late 19th century and takes us from the days of the Gold Rush to when the city of Sydney had twice the population of San Francisco. It is replete with stories of alcoholism, love and loss, terrorism, mental illness, wonky marriages, unemployment, hardship, and battles for justice. Henry Lawson is Australia's most famous poet and author, but his mother was also well-known as an activist in the struggle for women's rights. She is well named the 'Mother of Women's Suffrage' in a country that first allowed women to vote. She and Henry had a colourful circle of friends (not to mention highly 'individual' family members), some lowly, some famous, some notorious. Radicals and bohemians, politicians, journalists, road sweepers and carriage makers. And Henry was not the only one who had a love affair with the booze. Some of the scenes in Parliament in those days (all true) are astonishing but hilarious. The book is often amusing and often sad.
It's a great read. The style is easy, laid back, engaging. If Henry had succeeded in marrying the first woman he asked, would his life have been very different? We sympathize with his difficulties, but become frustrated by his inability to manage his life. I wanted to mother him one minute and shake him the next. He was a tormented but loveable individual who (I gather) left a large footprint in the hearts of Australians. He left one in mine too.
[The book has glossary of about 900 Australian words and brief biographies of about 200 real people who appear in the novel or are mentioned in it. Valuable resources which serve beyond the reading of the novel.]
Dialogue as robust and witty as Lawson at his best
Cherie Hannam, author, Australia
Pip Wilson's new Australian novel, Faces in the Street: Louisa and Henry Lawson and the Castlereagh Street Push, is a fascinating and convincing account of the radical Lawsons, and of the social changes sweeping Australia at the turn of the last century.
Wilson's use of short chapters keeps the pace faster than that of most historical novels. He quickly illustrates the theme of each chapter with broad and colourful strokes, and then gets down to business with dialogue that is as robust and witty as Henry Lawson at his best. The result is amusing, informative, and very readable.
Yet this lightness of touch exposes a raw society and a sad story. Australians loved their working class bard for defining their new world and peopling it with real Australians, and yet he spent the last decades of his life telling poems for pennies down at Circular Quay. Henry Lawson is portrayed as the classic artist, troubled yet visionary, beloved as a working class hero, and despised as a poor poet. He saw his duty clearly – he was 'born to write Australia' – yet despite his success in doing so, he could not find a niche is his own own society that would save him from his own sadness.
A charming larrikin and a great drinker, Lawson grew up in his mother's circle of early Australian radicals, all determined to form the new Australia into something much fairer to the working man and woman. The novel is peopled with the most interesting characters from the turn of the last century, including Louisa Lawson who raised her troubled family while fighting for women's rights, moving her children and her printing press from one dingy hovel to the next. Though a hero to the women of her times, she lived in overwhelming poverty, and was buried in a pauper's grave.
The novel illustrates many dilemmas that are still relevant to the artist's place in society, and traces a radical historical movement through the bizarre politics of the time, and the pubs they drank in. A real treat for Australians interested in their own history, and for Lawson fans everywhere.
Dialogue as robust and witty as Lawson at his best
Arthur Pike, author, Australia
I was very impressed with the depth of your research. Congratulations. It makes a great companion piece to the second edition of Songs of Henry Lawson recently published by the Folk Federation of Australia.
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