“... engaging characters,
smart humour ...”
“... an unerring mix of comedy and poignancy ...”
Author, Journalist, Book Reviewer
GIRLS IN OUR TOWN
Launched at the 2014
Bendigo Writers Festival
Ghosts haunt the eerie Whipstick forest, just north of Bendigo.
While Sheba is not a girl to scare easily, when she hears a knocking at the door one dark night, it seems the past has come calling. Living in a small community, Sheba knows that whatever is out there she will have to face alone.
Her mother Clover has too many of her own troubles to bother with damaged Sheba and her sister, red-headed chubby Brigid, whose victim status at school is fast reaching dangerous levels.
The extended family, descended from Irish immigrants and steeped in the misery-laden but defiant history of this once gold-rich landscape, can’t possibly help her as she tries desperately to control her longing for her boss, the enigmatic solicitor, Mr Rowley.
Dianne Dempsey’s tender and funny tale is about a sharp-witted girl who yearns to find love and instead finds sex; who struggles to grow and instead finds neglect – it’s about girls in our town.
Her story resonates with secrets that gradually seep up from hidden places and surface with the dazzling clarity of truth.
Like the characters in this beguiling story, the Whipstick Forest is full of toughness and beauty. It is harsh, rich and resilient - hard to get to know and impossible to leave. The forest is not just the setting for this gothic tale; it is one of the principle characters. Dempsey cleverly reveals its dark secrets.
For decades authors and filmmakers have ‘threatened’ a full-length treatment inspired by Bob Hudson’s beloved composition “Girls in Our Town”...so far there's only been the song, and a photography exhibition. At long last, Dianne Dempsey's evocative novel - with its engaging characters, smart humour, refreshing vernacular, mystery / romance elements - is that overdue expansion on the timeless Australiana classic.
After 20 years of analysing what’s right and what’s wrong about other people’s books, it takes courage to bring out a novel of your own. But Dianne Dempsey delivers her tale of love, family, trauma and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks with an unerring mix of comedy and poignancy.
Bob Hudson ©1975
Girls in our town, they just haven’t a care
You see them on Saturday floating on air
Painting their toenails and washing their hair
Maybe tonight it’ll happen
Girls in our town they leave school at fifteen
Work at the counter or behind the machine
And spend all their money on making the scene
Then plan on going to England
Girls in our town go to parties in pairs
And sit ‘round the barbecue, give themselves airs
Then they go to the bathroom with their girlfriend who cares
Girls in our town are so lonely
The girls in our town are too good for the pill
But if you keep asking they probably will
Sometimes they like you or else for a thrill
And explain it away in the morning
The girls in our town get no help from their men
No one can let them be sixteen again
Things might get better but it’s hard to say when
If they only had someone to talk to
The girls in our town can be saucy and bold
At seventeen, no one is better to hold
Then they start havin’ kids, start gettin’ old
The girls in our town ...
The girls in our town