Today’s authors’ pick was chosen by Kim Kelly.
Koombana Days by Annie Boyd was my fantastic find for 2015. I was idly surfing Goodreads – I can’t even remember what rabbit hole I’d fallen down – when the cover of this maritime history jumped out at me. A glance at the blurb had me soon adding to car
The elegant, ultra-modern SS “Koombana” arrived in Western Australia in March 1909; after only three years of service in the North West of Australia, the ship and her entire complement disappeared in a late-summer cyclone off the Pilbara coast in 1912. All 156 lives were lost but the wreck was never found.It was our own mini Titanic and yet I’d never heard of it before. Irresistible! I devoured not only the amazing tale of glamour entwined with tragedy but Annie Boyd’s wonderful wrangling of vast research into a compelling narrative. She does something here that few historians manage do, too, and that is to bring to life her characters from the past – especially the character of the ship itself – and she does so with great love for her subject.
I was so inspired by the story of the Koombana, it sent me down a whole Edwardian steamships research rabbit hole of my own, and I’ve just finished the draft of a novel based in part on the wreck. Thank you, Annie Boyd!
Kim Kelly is the author of four novels, all lorikeet-coloured tales about Australia, our history and who we are. Her latest work is the novella Wild Chicory.