The Bay. By Di Morrissey Pan Macmillan Australia. 2001; pp 468 ; $28.00 softcover.
In the obscured world of Australian fiction, who is the best selling author ? What is the best selling book ?
In Australia the number of sales of a book is shrouded in mystery as privileged publisher/author information, so too often we have to rely on newspaper column data from their "best-seller lists" which is based on information from a few bookshops. So there is no hard data, only impressionist opinions.
Di Morrissey is a good example. Very few of the reading public will not know here, but we can but guess the number of book sales, with some estimates as high as 500,000 in Australia alone for her ten novels. Along with other writers like Bryce Courtenay and Tim Winton she is an industry by herself.
Church people will remember Morrissey from a different angle. In July 1998 a group of prominent white Australians spent a week with elders from the Ngarinyin people of the Kimberley learning about the traditional Aboriginal lifestyle and beliefs. The group included barrister Alec Shand QC, retired judge Jim Macken, author Di Morrissey and Archbishop Peter Carnley !
The 800 kilometre trek by four wheel drive was mostly over bone shattering corrugated dirt roads to get to the Ngarinyin outstation. With a lot learnt at campfires at night, they partook of "men's and women's business" and eventually ran foul of a white pastoralist who got so annoyed with encroachment on her land that she bulldozed in the visitors -the Archbishop learning "men's business" at the end of a shovel !
Morrissey's latest book is The Bay, set in a small seaside resort in northern New South Wales, where city escapees live peaceably with alternative life style seekers and rural "ferals". The heroine buys an old property which she wants to convert into a guest house, having left the busy-ness of Sydney behind her -as well as a successful architect husband. The story comes to a gripping end, which is too good to unveil.
Di Morrissey is one of Australia's most successful novelists. She trained as a journalist at the Australian Women's Weekly and has worked on Channel 10's Good Morning Australia, as well as writing ten novels and some children's books. She grew up in a bushland retreat outside Sydney. Living in Byron Bay, she is a traveller, adventurer, and a writer worth reading.