Things Without a Name, by Joanne Fedler

Here at SISTAA we’re only supposed to offer support and advice. Theoretically our clients have to do the fixing and healing themselves. Most of them, though, are looking to be saved. If you take the time to read the sign on my door, it says legal counsellor, not Saviour. ‘Saving’ is not in my bio as a special skill. Neither is ‘psychic’, by the way. It’s not something you advertise. Besides, when people find out, they always ask retarded questions like Should I leave my husband? Will I die young? Do you do lottery numbers?

Faith Battaglia is thirty four and unmarried – but she doesn’t care. In spite of her disappointing cleavage and her dysfunctional family she has a busy and rewarding job, as a legal counsellor in a women’s crisis centre. But when her sister gets engaged and books in for a breast enhancement (an engagement present from her fiancé), one of her clients is murdered, and she runs over a cat all in the same week, Faith begins to see herself differently. After crying in the arms of a stranger she starts to confront who she is, and who she wants to be, as well as uncovering some of the secrets of her past.

Things Without a Name is a captivating story of one woman’s search for identity and peace. Faith is a wryly humorous first person narrator, adding some lightness to subject matter which could be emotionally very draining. With rape victims, murder, the death of a baby brother and more as subject matter, there are many melancholy moments, yet in the end this manages to be a feel good book. Faith has to choose to put the past, and her stressful job, behind her, and to allow herself her to be happy.


Things Without a Name, by Joanne Fedler
Allen & Unwin, 2008

Secret Mothers' Business, by Joanne Fedler

What happens when eight women get together for a sleepover with no husbands, no kids, a sumptuous feast and an awfully large tub of frozen daiquiris?

When writer and mother Joanne Fedler had a sleepover with a group of her friends, she did so as a welcome break from the daily grind of being a mother and wife, not as the opportunity to gather material for her next book. However, out of that night came the beginnings of a book which every mother will both relate to and enjoy.

This is a fictionalised account of an evening which brought together eight very different women. Some are working mothers, some not. One is divorced, the others married – though some more happily than others. A couple are financially comfortable, others struggle to provide for their families. What they have in common is their children – their friendship began when their children attended the same kindergarten.

In one night of feasting and drinking, the women lay themselves bare – talking about all aspects of motherhood, from breastfeeding and toilet training, to previously unspeakable thoughts of violence. There is also talk of sex, of body image and more.

This is an account which is at times funny, at others heart-wrenching, but at all times thought-provoking. Every mother who reads this book will find herself confronted with aspects of herself, perhaps even ones that she had previously not recognised.

This is an excellent read.

Secret Mothers’ Business, by Joanne Fedler
Allen & Unwin, 2006