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Publisher's Summary

Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house, "Good-bye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again!"

When Kate Grenville’s mother died, she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life, the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change. In many ways Nance’s story echoes that of many mothers and grandmothers for whom the spectacular shifts of the 20th century offered a path to new freedoms and choices.

In other ways Nance was exceptional. In an era when women were expected to have no ambitions beyond the domestic, she ran successful businesses as a registered pharmacist, laid the bricks for the family home, and discovered her husband’s secret life as a revolutionary.

©2015 Kate Grenville (P)2015 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A few sentences of Grenville’s makes one realise that much of the writing one encounters in a novel these days is thin and perfunctory." (The Daily Express)

"One Life is a treat further enhanced by a contemplative and intimate narration." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about One Life

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Not your usual tale of your mother

Based on her mother's several attempts to write an autobiography, Kate Grenville has written a biography that reveals intimate details of her mother's life, often in her mother's words. Though not a polished and professional reader, Grenville reads well and it is at times moving thinking that the voice in my ears, telling me about painful episodes in the life of the principal character, is the voice of that character's daughter. I liked it very much.

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An Amazing Story of an Amazing Australian Woman

Beautifully read by the author this was one of those books to be treasured. Kate Grenville painted the picture of an amazing woman who broke the bounds of a woman's life during the early 20th century and overcame the narrow, restrictions of the wife and mother role of that time while remaining a warm, loving and courageous woman. I highly recommend this book.

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Insightful

I loved the insight into life as a woman pre, during and post WWII . The struggles, her strength and the growth when freedom to grow is rendered.

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Insightful and inspiring

Grenville's story about her mother is inspiring: how her mother managed a marriage and her desire to work in a time where it was considered inappropriate for a woman to do both provides insights into a challenging time period for women.
Grenville's reading of her own writing adds a positive touch and depth.

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So Ineresting

After 3 hours of listening in the car, I couldn't wait to finish it at home.

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Very relatable , written about the 40s , 50s and up to the present .

I love this book . It's a mothers story written by her daughter after her death . All the places are local well known names . It's a wonderful cultural across generations .

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very good once you start to listen its hard to

put it down recomend this book for quite listening its great when the speak about places i know

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An ode to Nance

When an accomplished Australian author such as Kate Grenville, turns her hand to writing her mother Nance's story, it doesn't surprise me that she should deliver this ode with grace and humility.
Without her mother realising it, she was shaping and influencing her daughter's calling to be a writer and to tell important historical stories through the voices of the less represented folk who might have less education, confidence and time to write their own stories.
In the prologue Kate describes how when opening a box of her deceased mother's written memoirs, was as though she was there speaking to her in that very room. That's exactly how I felt whilst I listened to this audio book being read by Kate, in her Sydney dialect, that both these women were in my room. There was an ambience in my house for days until I managed to finish it, that conjured intimate memories of my mother and my aunties exchanging their experiences as intelligent working class women in the 1950's in Australia.
Nance's legacy and favourite Socrates quote, "the unexamined life is a life not worth living"" was not lost on her daughter, for Kate has added another title to the least represented and examined voices to her literary canon. I'm a humble fan.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-08-2017

For all Australian Women

Really interesting story and insight into life especially for women last century in Australia. thankyou!

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  • Lynne Poga
  • 07-08-2017

an ordinary life?

Loved it! an ordinary life made extraordinary in its courage, fullness and determination. Had to finish!

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  • Leah
  • 06-09-2015

Interesting and Informative

Would you consider the audio edition of One Life to be better than the print version?

Yes. One couldn't really hear the passion without the narrator. Without a narrator, it'd be just words.

What was one of the most memorable moments of One Life?

Not knowing love. And having to give up the pharmacy.

Which character – as performed by Kate Grenville – was your favorite?

Nance.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No. Some of it got long and drawn out in places.

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  • Sally G.
  • 28-08-2015

A woMan to admire

Kate Grenville has captured the spirit of her mother, trapped in the cultural construct of Sydney in the 1950's. That spirit, determined to have a life worth living, found a way despite the barriers. The reading itself was captivating, in a tone and with empathy and love for the woman who gave her life and inspiration. I was enthralled and the book triggered so many memories of the women who allowed us, by their sacrifices, to enjoy what they could not, to have a life of choice.

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  • Harper
  • 22-07-2015

Excellent Book

I loved this book from start to finish. All the details brought this one life alive for the reader. Nance was such a likable person, I just wanted it to go on and on.

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  • Kaye
  • 26-05-2015

A fascinating life

Beautifully read and wonderfully crafted writing. Such an interesting life, I really enjoyed this novel.

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