About a Girl, by Joanne Horniman

She gazed out into the audience as though expecting someone special , and her expression was so trustful and tender that my heart went out to her. Then, turning her face to her guitar, she played another chord, lifted her throat, and began to sing…I stood motionless and listened. The other people in the room fell away. It was as if she was singing for me alone, and no one else in the world existed.

Before Anna meets Flynn, she feels unlovable. She is different than anyone else she knows, and is hurting from the breakup of her parents’ marriage, an accident she feels was her fault, and a battle with depression. But after moving town and changing jobs, she meets Flynn and the pair are soon inseparable – eating cake, heading to the beach, camping, and loving each other. But Flynn is hiding a secret, and when Anna discovers it, she doesn’t know whether she really knows Flynn at all – or how she can cope with this truth.

About a Girl is a beautiful story of love between two teenage girls, as well as a journey of self-discovery. Sad, happy and wistful in equal, yet different, parts, the story is told in three parts taking the reader into the recent past, then further back, then forward again, to reveal Anna’s story in an absorbing form which goes right to the heart of the character, revealing her inner workings in intimate detail.


About a Girl, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2010

My Candlelight Novel, by Joanne Horniman

And so this is my story. I will make it something after my own heart, tender and dark, a little candlelight novel, started this late summer night as my baby daughter sleeps in the big bed in the corner, and my sister Kate leans thoughtful and sleepless against the railing of the dark verandah outside…

Sophie is a single mother intent on loving her child and making a life for them both. Her family consists of her baby, Hetty, her younger sister Kate, and Lil, the woman who had taken Sophie and Kate in after they were abandoned by their parents. As Sophie’s world expands, she makes new friends and acquaintances and grows in new directions.

Following on from Horniman’s earlier novel, Secret Scribbled Notebooks, told by Kate, Sophie’s story is not so much a sequel as it is a companion to the earlier book, but can equally be read on its own. The events of the novel are sequential, but whilst the plot is absorbing, the beauty of the story lies in Sophie’s honest first person narrative. She is introspective, innocent and unassuming, learning to live and love as she raises her daughter, attends university and spends time with her new friends.

This is a beautiful read, the sort of book that you wish would never end.

My Candlelight Novel

My Candlelight Novel, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2008

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Little Wing, by Joanne Horniman

Dear You
You are here. I don’t know how I know that this is the beginning of you. I just do. I should be afraid. But what I feel is, we can do this. You and I.

When Emmy found out she was pregnant, she had high hopes for their future – hers and the baby she bore. But when Mahalia was born, Emmy found that life as teenage mother is not easy. What happens when you can’t love the baby you thought you’d adore?

Leaving the baby with its father, Matt, Emmy flees, going to stay with her godmother Charlotte. As she struggles to overcome her guilt at not being able to love her baby, Emmy befriends Martin, a stay at home Dad, and his son, Pete. As she gradually finds a way back to being herself, Emmy wonders if it’s too late to become a good mother to Mahalia.

Little Wing is a companion book to Mahalia (2001) which tells Matt’s story, but whilst the two complement each other for a rich reading experience, this new offering can be read on its own. Reading this one, however, is likely to have readers searching for the other.

This is a poignant tale with the reader living Emmy’s gradual healing, wanting to support and encourage her in her efforts to find herself and happiness. Horniman is a sensitive writer, tackling one teen pregnancy and its aftermath in a compassionate and realistic way.

Little Wing, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2006

Secret Scribbled Notebooks, by Joanne Horniman

I want, I want, I want…At this point I’m just a mass of seething wants, but what I want I’m not really sure of. (Like going to the fridge and opening it, ‘letting all the cold air out’ as Lil complains, and not knowing what it is you want to eat. You stand with the door open hoping that something will inspire you.) I’m standing with the door open at the fridge of life, and I want.

Preparing to leave school and making choices about your future direction are challenging for any seventeen year old. But for Kate, this is an especially confronting time. Abandoned as a child, with her older sister Sophie, she has never abandoned the hope that her father might one day come back and reclaim her. In her final year of school she has become discontented with her life in Lsimore, where she lives in a big boarding house with Sophie and Lil, the old woman who has cared for both of them since their father left. When Sophie’s baby, Anastasia, arrives, Kate buys herself three notebooks and begins to write about her hopes and her fears. More than diaries, these notebooks trace her path through the troubled months around her final exams, as she helps Sophie with the baby, prepares for her exams, and develops a relationship with a boy called Alex.

The style of the book – part diary, part random thoughts and part retrospective, flows well. Kate writes in different styles in her three different coloured notebooks and later adds in type-written commentary which binds the various sections into some sort of order. This mixture does not, as it might sound, make the book disjointed, but rather makes it feel real, as if it really is written by a seventeen year old Kate rather than by an omniscient author.

Secret Scribbled Notebooks is an evocative piece about growing up, moving on and about finding oneself. It will appeal to older teens, particularly girls and the many literary references makes it especially appealing to students and lovers of literature.

Secret Scribbled Notebooks, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2004

A Charm of Powerful Trouble, by Joanne Horniman

Lizzie and Laura grow up in a house that oozes secrets from every brick, every crevice. Yet it is a life full of wonders. Surrounded by nature and by human nature the girls learn to live and to love as they follow the path toward adulthood.

Both girls look for answers in the secrets of their mother’s past. Self-possessed, she seems to be unaffected by the events of her life, yet will not speak of her past. When they beg for stories she will tell them only one – the tale of her mystical visit to her great-aunt when she was sixteen. Yet, given time, the girls will learn to understand and to learn from their mother.

This is a story about love and intimacy in many different forms – about friendship, family and lovers. Threads overlap and intertwine with a richness that binds them into a delight of sensual emotion. Most female readers will find hints of themselves in one or other of the three generations of female characters.

A Charm of Powerful Trouble is Joanne Horniman’s first novel for adults. She has previously written for children and teenagers, a fact echoed in her empathy for the teens in this book.

A powerful read.

A Charm of Powerful Trouble, by Joanne Horniman
Allen & Unwin, 2002