Author(s): Ruby Murray
Why has no-one heard of Edna Cranmer?
When a young woman is hired to write the life of an unknown artist from Geelong, she thinks it will be just another quick commission paid for by a rich, grieving family obsessed with their own history.
But Edna Cranmer was not a privileged housewife with a paintbrush. Edna's work spans decades. Her soaring images of red dirt, close interiors and distant jungles have the potential to change the way the nation views itself.
Edna could have been an official war artist. Did she choose to hide herself away? Or were there people who didn't want her to become famous? As the biographer is pulled into Edna's life, she is confronted with the fact that how she tells Edna's past will affect her own future.
This elegant and engrossing novel explores how we value and celebrate art and artists' lives. The Biographer's Loverreminds us that all memory is an act of curation.
'A delight to read. Ruby J. Murray enters the mind of an ambitious young biographer to assemble a moving portrait of a mysterious Australian painter.' Carrie Tiffany
'An accomplished and memorable novel about the gaps left in our inherited history, and the imperfect storytellers we entrust to fill them. Beautifully constructed.' Abigail Ulman
THE BOOKSHOP AT QUEENSCLIFF REVIEW “The Biographer’s Lover” is a story of art and artifice. It is narrated by a young writer hired to write a monograph by the daughter of a forgotten and recently dead artist from Geelong. Edna Cranmer was an accomplished painter denied recognition during her long life. Her story is told alongside the story of her biographer in interleaving chapters. Near the end of the book the biographer observes that the meaning of any story depends on where you stop telling it. Eventually, this story reveals much about Cranmer – more than Cranmer’s daughter, the biographer, and the reader, expect. The role of women – as artists, mothers, partners, and contributors to the war effort, is at the heart of this book. So too is Geelong and the Bellarine where much of the story takes place. “The Biographer’s Lover” is Ruby J. Murray’s second novel and it is an exquisite piece of storytelling. It reminds us that memory, like art, can be curated, and the storyteller decides what truth gets told. Review by Mathew Jose from The Bookshop at Queenscliff