Emma Ashmere was born in Adelaide, South Australia. For over a decade she worked as a cook, leading to jobs on film sets, an isolated cattle station, Sydney cafés, London pubs, and an art school in the south of France. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide, and a PhD on the use of marginalised histories in fiction from La Trobe University. She’s also worked in the arts and universities, and as a researcher on two Australian gardening history books Green Pens and Reading the Garden, and on another about women and empire.
Emma’s short stories have won awards, and have been widely published in journals, anthologies, and newspapers including: The Age, Review of Australian Fiction, Griffith Review, Sleepers Almanac, Text Journal, and Etchings. These days she lives in northern New South Wales. Her first novel The Floating Garden is published by Spinifex Press and was shortlisted for the 2016 MUBA prize.
And here’s what some of the reviews have been saying:
“The Floating Garden beautifully and evocatively portrays both the difficulties and the sense of promise in the post-war era… at times it reminded me of Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet.” ⋆⋆⋆⋆ (four stars) Books+Publishing
“Emma Ashmere’s debut is a beautifully detailed historical novel, full of tenacious and likeable women asserting themselves through guile. Finely crafted, The Floating Garden is at once an elegy for the forgotten and a subversive counter-history to the tumult of rapid progress.” The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Read the full review here.
“The Floating Garden is a fine example how fiction can be useful in expanding our understanding of the past. It is also simply an engaging narrative. I enthusiastically recommend this book to other readers, especially those who care about Sydney, and those interested in a new type of historical fiction.” ⋆⋆⋆⋆ (four stars) MD Brady’s US blog: Me, You and Books.
“This captivating debut… teems with charlatans, eccentrics and those doing it tough in a time of hardship and prejudice. Yet Ashmere weaves a sense of hope and redemption as her characters seek to rediscover their true selves.” ⋆⋆⋆⋆ (four stars) The Advertiser.
“The realisation in prose of 1920s Sydney is as unforgettable as the characters. I loved the vivid descriptions of the market and the ferries; the sights and scents of lush plant life; the mud, slush and sordid decay of the houses; the sun-drenched views of the sea and the sky; the shadowy dangers that lurk in the cramped dark streets and the temptation of oblivion in the deep waters of the harbour. Without idealising poverty, Ashmere depicts this Sydney as a place for the marginalised and eccentric” Lisa Hill ANZlitlovers
“The Floating Garden is a beautifully written, gently humorous and highly detailed slice of history. It also has an absorbing storyline which kept me turning the page.” The Northern Rivers Echo.
“What I particularly enjoyed about the novel is that Ashmere does for the underprivileged of 1920s Sydney what Ruth Park did for the 1950s in Harp in the South. They are very different books in terms of their narratives and themes, but both exude warmth and sympathy for their motley crew of marginalised characters, and both are valuable for their social history.” Whispering Gums.
More reviews here.
Here’s an extract of The Floating Garden.
A NOTE about the cover of The Floating Garden. ‘The Bridge’ (1930) was painted by South Australian artist, Dorrit Black (1891-1951). There’s more about her remarkable life and work here: Rescuing the Reputation of Early Australian Modernist Dorrit Black and also Unseen Forces the recent retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of SA.
____________________________________________________________________ Copyright Emma Ashmere © 2015 ____________________________________________________________________