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New Historical Fiction Draws Inspiration From Mosman

It was Douglas Adams (author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) who said, “A book is not made of words alone, there’s plenty of space between them … all that space needs to be carefully considered.”

For author, Kyra Geddes that space between was a decade from the first inkling to the published manuscript.

Coming across Henry Lawson’s iconic 1892 story ‘The Drover’s Wife’ during a creative writing class at Macquarie University in 2014, Kyra was struck by how the female characters in the story were not deemed worthy of a name or title beyond their relation to the men in their lives.

This injustice became the inspiration to write her debut historical fiction novel, The Story Thief.


Part fiction, part fact, The Story Thief follows Lillian, who was born in 1892. When she reads Henry Lawson’s ‘The Drover’s Wife’ at school, she quickly becomes convinced that it is based on her own family’s story and is determined to prove it. We follow Lillian over the course of her life across monumental points in Australia’s history — including women’s suffrage, the two world wars and the birth of nuclear warfare — as she must decide what is more important: holding onto the past or embracing the future.

“I can also see that it must have been some of my own experiences as a young woman which fuelled my – and then Lillian’s – indignation over Lawson’s decision to leave the drover’s wife and her daughters unnamed, while naming the two boys and even the family dog,” Kyra writes on her website. “That Henry Lawson’s mother was an outspoken and highly influential feminist adds extra spark to the fire.”

Taronga Zoo Sydney was officially opened on October 7th, 1916. Image: MHNSW

Kyra’s historical research shines throughout the novel, beautifully depicting Sydney, in particular our own beautiful North Shore during the years WWI – WWII, and features numerous real people and places, including Taronga Zoo.

Taronga Zoo was officially opened in 1916, and according to the Museums of History NSW, the government offered a free day at the zoo for every schoolchild in metropolitan Sydney. The program, though mainly intended to promote Taronga Zoo, brought joy to thousands of families struggling through the Great War. It brought joy to an estimated 100,000 to 120,000 children (and their mothers, and younger siblings) who visited the zoo over the course of several months.

Other North Shore sites in the book include Eryldene and Carinya Historic Houses in Gordon, Killarney Castle (which was used during WWII for air raid drills) and Ravenswood School for Girls in Roseville (where the protagonist Lillian teaches).

Kyra’s visual inspiration featuring Eryldene.

Kyra will be attending book signing events around Sydney, and with an incredible endorsement from Liane Moriarty on the cover, it could be your next great read.

‘Brimming with evocative, authentic detail, The Story Thief brings a fresh, feminist perspective to Australian literature and art. Australian historical fiction at its finest,’ Liane Moriarty.

The Story Thief is available now: 


Online Book Club event: The Story Thief | Book Club with Belinda and Natasha

The Story Thief has been selected as the Belinda and Natasha Book Club July Book of the Month.

Image credit: über photography