Janet Frame’s controversial story of World War One

9780987109972One hundred years ago this month, World War One—’the Great War’—began. Lest we forget.

Pamela Gordon, Janet Frame’s literary executor, has been reminded of this on her excellent blog, Slightly Framous.

The great New Zealand writer’s parents married three weeks before Janet’s father, George Samuel Frame, went off to the war with the New Zealand engineers.

When he returned from the war, her parents set up house with the assistance of a £25 ‘rehabilitation loan’ from His Majesty, the King (those being the days of the British Empire).

This modest loan inspired Frame’s memorable story, ‘Between My Father and the King’, the title story of our recently-published collection of new and uncollected Frame short stories, Between My Father and the King.

Like most of the stories in the collection, ‘Between My Father and the King’ was not published while Janet Frame was alive. Pamela Gordon explains why:

Almost one hundred years after the events of WW1, the story ‘Between My Father and the King’ was identified by the Manchester Review as ‘a controversial account of the Great War’, so it’s easy to see why Frame never submitted the story for publication during her lifetime.

The story, notes the Manchester Review, ‘resists the piety and national feelings stoked up by some more recent commemorations’.

You can judge the story for yourself here.

Better still,  why not buy the wonderful book it comes from? Between My Father and the King is available from good bookstores now, and online at Readings, Booktopia and many others.


Janet Frame ‘vibrant, insightful, insistent, and distinctive’, says ABR

9780987109972A sensitive review of Janet Frame’s posthumous collection of short stories, Between My Father and the King by Sophia Barnes in the June/July issue of Australian Book Review.

Here’s a snippet:

There is more than enough here to demonstrate what made Frame such a vibrant, insightful, insistent, and distinctive writer. There is the sly and enchanting magic realism of ‘The Wind Brother’ and his snow mountain of undelivered letters; and the eerie underground shopping kingdom of ‘The Friday Night World’. ‘Gorse Is Not People’, famously denied publication on the basis of its bleak conclusion, is indeed heartbreaking – short, simple, and devastating. Its final publication … in this collection can only be celebrated.

With the main newspapers cutting back on literary reviews (alongside everything else), ABR is becoming more and more important for Australian publishing.

If a book is published and not reviewed, was it ever really published?