I for Isobel

I for Isobel Born Into A World Without Welcome, Isobel Observes It As Warily As An Alien Trying To Pass For A Native Her Collection Of Imaginary Friends Includes The Virgin Mary And Sherlock Holmes Later She Meets Byron, W H Auden And T S Eliot Isobel Is Not As Much At Ease With The Flesh And Blood People She Meets, And Least Of All With Herself, Until A Lucky Encounter And A Little Detective Work Reveal Her Identity And Her True Situation In LifeI For Isobel, A Modern Day Australian Classic, Was Followed By Isobel On The Way To The Corner Shop, Winner Of The Age Book Of The Year Award

Joan Austral Levick was born Joan Fraser in the Sydney suburb of Annandale in 1918 She studied at the University of Sydney and later taught French and English at state secondary schools In 1948 she was transferred to Kempsey where she met Les Levick, a fellow teacher They were married in December 1948 In 1953 Witting was diagnosed with TB after a routine school check, and it was while she was

❮Ebook❯ ➠ I for Isobel Author Amy Witting – Webcamtopladies.info
  • Paperback
  • 158 pages
  • I for Isobel
  • Amy Witting
  • English
  • 19 February 2018
  • 9780140126242

10 thoughts on “I for Isobel

  1. says:

    BOOK REVIEWED AS PART OF MY ONGOING QUEST TO READ ALL RECOMMENDED 2015 VCE TEXTS FOR VICTORIAN SCHOOLS READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL I for Isobel is a perfect example of being in the category of just because it won an award, doesn t mean it s a good book I ve read the other reviews raving about this book, and while I agree that it may have been a ground breaking work from an author who struggled against the tides of anti feminism and corporate male greed, I cannot fathom WHY this book was placed on the VCE recommended texts to study in schools for 2015.Firstly, I for Isobel is challenging the writing, the style, the constant jumping from scene to scene, episode to episode, allegory to allegory, is so tiresome that the reader becomes disorientated with the underlying narrative This is unsuitable for a majority of students, even those who may read several books each year For students who don t read, forget it I for Isobel will emit such a noxious scent that these students will forever be repelled against what good literature can actually offer This is but the beginning Let s examine the VCE VCAA criteria for choosing texts to study Each text selected for the VCE English EAL text list will have literary merit and be worthy of close studyCheck It does have literary merit, for I am but one man and those masses who hail this book as an example of good literature cannot all be wrong can they be an excellent example of form and genreCross The form is confusing, the genre while new and controversial at its time of publication is far surpassed by ambitious and better novels sustain intensive study, raising interesting issues and providing challenging ideasCross As I mentioned above, I believe that students would find this book laborious and unworthy of a sustained intensive study If anything, students would be turned off by having to annotate such a novel While it does raise some interesting issues, Isobel is so docile, so domesticated in her thinking, that the ideas need to be pried out of the pages for the reader to actually realise the true meaning behind Isobel s quelled nature SPOILERS IT S HER MOTHER AND RELIGION THAT DID IT be appropriate for both male and female studentsDouble cross How drab a novel for males to read The issues of this novel are so archaic and lost in the language that they lose all relevance to any young student even female students There are so many better novels out there, waiting to be discovered, that deal with the very same issues found in I for Isobel the difference being that these other novels are comprehensible and not a chore to read be appropriate for the age and development of students and, in that context, reflect current community standards and expectations.Do the people who choose these texts even read their own standards In conclusion, I ll say this Congratulations, VCAA, for letting some stubborn old literary fuck choose this book, and by doing so, wasting a space on the 2015 list So disappointing.

  2. says:

    The story opens just before Isobel Callaghan s ninth birthday, when she anticipates correctly that there will be no presents for her this year, just like all her other birthdays Her mother is a monster cold, hard, spiteful and jealous Poor little Isobel grows up forever wanting to please but unable to work out how.She takes solace in books, and too bad if the reader isn t herself widely read because there are countless perfectly apt allusions to works of literature great and small throughout the story For those of us who grew up bookish in a bookish age, this is part of the joy of Witting s writing, but I can see from the clumsy markings on the second hand copy I foolishly bought without inspecting its innards that its previous owner, Kade M took no such pleasure in reading it for school.For the rest of my review please visit

  3. says:

    This is a beautiful book Well written from beginning to end Harrowing but hopeful It is not far into the book before we realise we are witnessing a tale of surviving child abuse at the hands of parents My only difficulty was in later stages the stream of consciousness was a little too disjointed at times, although it clearly was meant to be.

  4. says:

    Just another unhappy family, but this one has Isobel in it.At the beginning of I for Isobel, we are introduced to a mistreated child living with a mostly passive and nearly invisible father, a favoured older sister who is usually indifferent to her, and a mother who is an out of control wreck of an abuser That is an accurate character statement, but it doesn t tell you much about who Isobel is as a person And what makes this book work is entirely dependent upon the person of Isobel dreamy outsider, devoted reader, and eventually aspiring writer.There are lots of stories and lots of families like Isobel s, in fiction and in the real world, and the most immediate and reasonable response to such a tale is to feel anger, sorrow, and pity for the child, and to see the child as a victim who must be saved What makes Isobel captivating, though, is not her family role, as resident scapegoat and whipping girl, but how fully she rejects that role Isobel embodies a strong sense of I as separate from everyone else, from the moment we meet her on page one She is a full fledged person in her own right, whose internal world is brimming with lively imagination and the wonder of being alive, but whose external one is shot through with petty malice and woe inflicted upon her by others.Isobel is a self possessed little girl, and much individuated from her family than many adults ever manage to be She does not see herself as a victim, or someone who will be forever ill treated Healthy children rarely do, of course, think of life or themselves in such bleak terms Children are boundlessly hopeful, when given even the tiniest of things to look forward to.What Isobel wants, when we first meet her, is a birthday present She s never had one We realise before she will admit to herself that this year will be no different But we quickly come to understand that her ability to believe in the possibility of the present is important than the present itself ever could be Also, with or without a present, it is still her special day, and no one can take that away from her I for Isobel, and today, she is nine.Isobel is optimistic She knows that one day, she will be grown up She has a vision of her future opening out wide, a landscape filled with interesting experiences, that in time will leave the country of her hard scrabble childhood far behind metaphorically, if not actually Isobel does not cling loyally to her abuser, as some children do, but neither does she run through the streets of her small Australian town screaming about her mother being a beast Even if she did, who would care It s that kind of time, and that kind of town, where such matters are kept in the family Also, her mother is not so depraved that she cuts, burns, or mutilates Isobel, so to a lot of people, her behaviour would not even register as abuse.Isobel does see herself unfairly done by, but she views her mother as the one with the problem, not herself This is crucial She learns to be watchful and strategic about how she interacts with her mother, and this watchfulness stays with her, becoming ingrained into her character She copes with being unloved and maligned and sometimes physically assaulted by holding tight to herself, and by seeking relationships with other people When that goes wrong as it often does , she turns to her friends in books Her parents may ignore her birthday, and even forbid her to mention it to others, but that s okay, because her friends Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are happy to spend the day with her.Isobel is filled with the unshakeable certainty that she is or should be able to control her own world That what is required from her by Life is only that she learn to assess accurately what it is she needs to do, and then do that thing, not allowing herself to be swayed from her aims At one point, she believes herself to be filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit after a brief but intense religious experience, but keeps this to herself Her parents may not grant her gifts, but God has, so she clings to it tightly, seeing it as transformative and protective She talks to the Virgin Mary, and this, too, gives her strength to withstand her mother s incessant bullying and provocation at least temporarily until her anger finally snaps She blames herself for weakening in her resolve But religion is pretty much done for her after that.In Rotter s social learning theory of psychology, Isobel would be called an Internal on the Perceived Locus of Control continuum the other end of which would be people who believe that their lives are largely the result of chance good or bad luck and external circumstances This type of worldview would never occur to Isobel She feels that a good life and happy relationships must be a matter of practice and learning to say and do the right things, and that she must surely be capable of mastering this After all, that is how things go in books She goes on believing this well into her young adulthood.Her internalism is one of the things that makes her a great protagonist Isobel is plucky, funny, intelligent, and always on the outer edges of every social group Nothing is easy and smooth for Isobel, and however well read she may be, she is incapable of being a social chameleon I is for Isobel and only Isobel, no one else She does not blend anywhere She is the consummate outsider, who wonders incessantly why that is the case, and then proceeds to work very hard to figure it out and make it better Eventually, like many outsiders, she does learn why, and then chooses to remain on the periphery, rather than sell herself out by conforming to others expectations of her This is her moment of empowerment, enlightenment, and salvation, all rolled into one I won t tell you how it comes about, because that would spoil the fun R for Reader This book is a reader s love fest There are references, both straight and tongue in cheek, to novelists, poets, and playwrights, woven throughout the text They figure not only in conversations between the characters, but also as invisible friends in Isobel s life, who remain truer, wiser, and predictable than the real people who surround her By this time, she has become a young woman, living in a boarding house in the city, working as a translator and typist at an Importers, and trying to form friendships The group to which she most longs to belong is a tight set of university students, devoted to literature, and made up mostly of poets and critics They take her in for a while, and Isobel learns for the first time that there are other people like her in the world readers She learns, too, that not everyone reads only because they love writers and words and characters in books, but because they create a society around the books they read They wish to discuss the books, and some even want to write critical reviews Since reading has always been a deeply private experience for Isobel, this strikes her as not only alien but impossible Unbelievably, she is once again the outsider.In this part of the book, there are entire scenes devoted to discussions of literature and word play, including one in which people are cast as parts of speech.If you were a part of speech, what part of speech would you be I speak as a verb, a transitive verb And Janet there is a conjunction, a co ordinating conjunction He turned to Vinnie And you, my pet, are an adjective, naturally You adorn You decorate.Isobel laughed too.He looked at her kindly And what are you She said in a small racked whisper, I think I m a preposition Oh, do you govern Only small common objects Isobel said on a bubble of laughter, My landlady s a preposition Against You, Nick You re and adverb He began to sing It ain t what you do It s de way dat you do it He laughed loudly And Diana is a past participle From pps 82 83 The book is only 158 pages long, and worth reading for that alone The Idiot in the Attic vs Young Adult Isobel Amongst her work mates, her boarding house residents, and her social group of university students, Isobel is forever faltering, never sure if she s doing and saying the right things, and self admonishing all the way While this could be tedious or sad well, it is a bit sad it is mostly very funny, because of the way she talks to herself We are not meant to feel sorry for her, and she would resent us if we did Also, she maintains her watchful stance towards others as well as herself, which keeps her from being destroyed by gullibility She is no gullible ing nue, and when people try to get close to her to exploit her good will, she figures it out pretty quick However, she has her vulnerable spots When she realises that her controlling and bitter landlady has come to favour her over the other boarders, she takes herself to task for it She recognises how she has invited this favouritism, that there is a child part of her that wants the approval of a mother figure however unsuitable and that Child Isobel has been sneaking around and getting her way, while Adult Isobel has failed to notice.Any rag will make a doll for the idiot in the attic.Auden had a general in his head But they ve severed all the wires, and I don t know what the general desires Isobel had an idiot in the attic Idiot wants a mother.Idiot can t have one.Life is very difficult From pps 104 105 W for WriterThe pleasure and dramatic tension in the rest of the book is in watching Isobel negotiate her way around the idiot, as well as around her real and unreal friends, in order to find her own meaning and place in the world I recommend this book to anyone who loves readerly fiction, and also to anyone who loves the writing of Barbara Pym and Muriel Spark, as I do There are points of style, wit, humour, and theme that bring to mind both of those authors, who are two of my favourites.Amy Witting is not much read these days, I think She was an Australian and a teacher, who lived from 1918 2001 I would bet she d have been an excellent companion for an extended afternoon tea I like to think she was Australia s Pym or Spark She s that good Note In one of those strangely synchronous life moments, the book I opened just after this one also included the term idiot in the attic I d never heard it before now Apparently, in horror films, the idiot in the attic is the character who proceeds up the blood soaked stairs, to corner the psychopath monster in the attic, usually whilst said idiot is wearing only cut off shorts and a pair of thongs, and armed with a flash light with low batteries Something like that Update to Note It is the 3rd of February, 2017, and I am re entering my old reviews on Goodreads, after having cleaned out all of my GR shelves to do a freshen up I am not bothering to re read them all, obviously, but I read this note, and, as I did so, I looked down at myself It is summer in Australia, and I happen to be wearing cut off shorts and a pair of thongs I am planning to avoid the attic but, just in case, the flash light is in good working order.

  5. says:

    I am deeply offended that nobody forced me to read this book earlier in my life How dare they It is SO brilliant The female characters are so real and gorgeously written Could not have loved it .

  6. says:

    We follow Isobel from when she is about to turn nine until she is nineteen There is an awful repressive childhood that she shines through because her spirit is repressed but not destroyed And she has the salvation of books But she makes such an effort to behave in a way that doesn t draw attention And there are lies that she can t help because her imagination keeps running away with her When her parents die she moves into a boarding house this seems like 1950s Sydney and her life begins to expand There is office work and minor socialising in the boarding house and always Isobel studies how to do right behaviour She mustn t stay in her room and read which she desperately wants to do That is not right behaviour When she starts work she needs to manage the petty cash Any deficiency would be taken from her week s salary Do I take anything that s over Everything came to pieces She had meant it as a kind of grace, so that he could say laughing there s never anything left over and she could say I hope there s never any deficiency either Instead, there he was, staring and stumbling in real misery while she was left holding her unwanted joke I loved her and hoped she would find people who loved her too In the boarding house there is Mrs Prendergast who is an admirer of death, entranced by its ceremonies, awed by its sudden captures, marvelling at its rare defeats I m sure I know her Then in a coffee shop she comes across some students with smart conversations who know about books and talk about them with wit and humour She fits in perfectly Her normal behaviour is right behaviour with them Less than a year after she left home she returns to her old neighbourhood and is horrified to come across Mrs Adams When she was a child she committed the awful offence of putting Mrs Adams name in a newspaper She had written a poem at school when she was nine which won a prize and it was published in a local paper Mrs Adams lives three doors from me.She has a cat Smoke is his name.He curls around the corner silently.When he jumps, his name should be Flame Isobel has suffered years of humiliation and punishment from her mother for those lines Mrs Adams invites the nineteen year old Isobel in for a cup of tea and shows her the poem in a photo album and tells her how she loved it and regarded Isobel as a budding writer and bought her a book to put her poems in but her mother had refused to take the gift Isobel leaves Mrs Adams with proper behaviour but when she is alone she sobs uncontrollably I almost sobbed with her We end with Isobel buying an exercise book in her first step to becoming a writer I loved this book And speaking of books My Book of Picture Stamps of the World India The Taj Mahal Peru Cuzco The Ancient Temple of the Sun A Peasant of the Pyrenees It was out of those sober little stamps that the great wheeling vision of the world had come How strange, a joy you cellared when you were maybe ten years old coming up so drinkable at nineteen.

  7. says:

    Obviously I am an idiot I cannot understand the intentions of this novel I for Isobel is a story about Isobel a girl who grew up with a not really there father, a horrible mother and an indifferent sister Isobel eventually goes out into the world and discovers for herself I m guessing as I have no idea if that is what happened and if she came to terms with herself.The reason I bought this book is because we share the same name Isobel and although I could identify with Isobel s character there were parts especially when she was older Also the talk about literature and what kind of word would you be went over my head although I love to read, English was far from one of my favourite subjects.I felt let down by the journey as it didn t seem to have one I don t need closure, she doesn t have to be with the guy or the career but to me at least it didn t seem like she figured out what she wanted from life or come to terms with the past The other problem I found is that the supporting characters often got left behind, her sister, her mother, father, aunts, co workers, Helen, Trevor, Nick, Diana, and Housemates all got left behind and they were interesting characters Some of the best parts were when Isobel was interacting with other people I wanted to know what happened to these people but they had just gone.and now, so am I.

  8. says:

    I for Isobel and Isobel on Her Way to the Corner Shop the names suggest a series of slightly twee children s books Far from it If I have a criticism of I for Isobel it is that the first chapter is so perfect that it almost makes the rest of the book redundant It is like a short story that Katherine Mansfield might have left in her desk drawer, for being too painful even in the 1980s it was considered unsuitable for publication by some It tells us pretty much everything we need to know about Isobel, her tragically awful mother, and the slow growth of Isobel s individuality we can even guess that she is likely to become a writer The subsequent chapters develop these themes, often in wonderful ways the chapter in which the young Catholic schoolgirl discovers the disadvantages of finding grace is painfully hilarious but after the first chapter they are like further episodes than an organic continuation This is hardly a criticism of the book as a whole, which is wonderful and moving and beautifully written I definitely wanted to know about the difficult girl, Isobel but I was occasionally reminded of certain musical albums where the first song is so good that the rest of the album can t quite keep up

  9. says:

    If Body and Soul is a book about the experience of being a musician, I for Isobel, I imagine, is an apt description of the experience of being a writer I thought the writing was beautiful, and enjoyed the novelty of reading something from an author who is considered one of Australia s great writers And of course, I enjoyed seeing the unusual spelling of my daughter s name in print Really, my only complaint is that it s too short Isobel was such an interesting, sympathetic, beautiful character I wanted of her Apparently there is a subsequent work, Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop, but I might have some trouble getting a hold of it since it seems to only be in print in Australia Here are a few excerpts To turn oneself into a weapon, to throw oneself like a stone or a rotten tomato, to be so lost Isobel felt a keen thrill at the thought of it Isobel s face is expressionless Nobody else knows what that word means it is not being calm like marble, but naked, skinless It is a disgusting failure of privacy, like an exposed liver.

  10. says:

    Ok interesting I ve always wanted to read this cause of its pedigree and accolades I enjoyed the first chapter, the feistiness of Isobel and her determination to get the better of the horrible situation but the subsequent chapters were not as delightful There were lots of puzzles how did the parents die How old was Isobel when she became an orphan Did she keep in touch with her sister Where did the money come from Sometimes the conversations she had with people were dense cafe conversations or left in mid air Diana The ending was nice and brought the book to a pleasant full circle I m unsure of how easy this would be to teach though, and another albeit slight sex scene has to rule this book out for my class of conservatives for 2015.

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