Author Susan Duncan caught up with family connection Bill Dougherty, of Grafton, when she spoke at Grafton Library recently.
Author Susan Duncan caught up with family connection Bill Dougherty, of Grafton, when she spoke at Grafton Library recently. BELINDA SCOTT

Author Susan Duncan's house on the hill

BESTSELLING Australian author Susan Duncan found an appreciative audience when she visited Grafton recently to speak about houses, family, ageing and what really matters - and her just-released book The House On The Hill.

She found friends and family, with several former neighbours and a cousin of her first husband among those who gathered at Grafton's Sir Earle Page Library to hear her entertaining talk.

The new memoir by the former Australian Women's Weekly and New Idea magazine editor, journalist and author takes an unflinching look at her difficult relationship with her mother, now 95 and the awful forces that shaped that turbulent past.

While she negotiates her mother's tantrums, health crises and moving her into assisted living, Susan herself is feeling the first effects of growing old.

Partly as a means of combating the onset of 'fluffy slippers' syndrome, the author and her second husband Bob, both 'officially' retired, decide to acquire a convenient holiday cottage on the North Coast.

They set off to look for an existing house or a small block with power and water.

When they decide to buy 92 ha (228 acres) of steep hills and deep gullies in cattle country outside Wingham, with a spectacular view but no power or water, they embark on a whole new adventure.

Building their environmentally sustainable house, Benbulla, stretches them in all kinds of ways.

After thinking she would never leave Tarrangaua, the gracious house built for poet Dorothea Mackellar, Susan and Bob end up splitting their time between Pittwater and the Mid North Coast.

Evocative, entertaining and thought provoking, The House on the Hill is a book about discovery and forgiveness, and what it takes to rework shrinking boundaries into a new and rich life.

Susan Duncan has previously published three non fiction books: Salvation Creek; its sequel, The House at Salvation Creek and A Life on Pittwater, plus two novels, The Briny Café and Gone Fishing.


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