Review Blog

Apr 29 2020

A new name for the colour blue by Annette Marner

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Wakefield Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781743057018.
(Age: Adult) Highly recommended. Scotoma can occur when our brain does not register something the eye sees because it does not fit within our mental framework. In Annette Marner's novel, a simple exercise in a training session at work leads arts administrator and artist, Cassandra, to ponder what else she does not see, or sees incorrectly. From the intense but violent relationship with Stephen the saxophone player, to the central mystery of her life, the disappearance of her Aboriginal childhood friend Tania, Cassandra is trapped in a role where her rage, or her sadness, is always stifled, and she continues a life of not seeing, of not wanting to see; a life of submission.
In the first chapters Marner vividly and realistically portrays the intensifying path of domestic violence, and then moves on to expose the long term influences of men's oppression of women, and the mirror of the colonial oppression of the Aboriginal people and the country that belonged to them.
Cassandra's childhood in the southern Flinders Ranges is one of harsh men and long suffering women, boys' cruelty and girls' fear, and of stolen land and Aboriginal dispossession. Tania's disappearance is in fact a collusion to not face truths, to cover up and deny; something that has a long history in Australia.
Marner's novel is not a simple mystery story; it is a complex interweaving of many themes from Australia's dark past along with the story of a woman's journey towards self-understanding and empowerment. As an artist Cassandra has to find her vision, and new names for colours that have always been labelled by the dominant culture. There are many references to famous artworks that complement and enrich the narrative.
Themes: Domestic violence, Racism, Aboriginal rights, Women's rights.
Helen Eddy

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