Zoe Morrison: Music and Freedom

The latest from Jennifer’s blog.

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This first novel of Zoe Morrison has helped me to pursue my interest in the challenges faced by women artists in the first half of the 20th century – the challenges of being assumed to be second-rate compared to men, of believing that home-making should have priority over piano practice, of being dependent on men for money. Recently I’ve been interested in the lives of Australian pianists from that time: Margaret Sutherland and Eileen Joyce. Although these women weathered considerable difficulties, they had a better time than the fictitious Alice Murray in Zoe Morrison’s book.

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Alice grew up on an orange orchard somewhere near Mildura. A difficult childhood was on the cards, with isolation, poverty and her parents’ deteriorating marriage. But Alice’s mother recognised that her young daughter was a gifted pianist and (finding the money somehow) sent her off to boarding school in England.

Alice would have been…

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