CHRISTINE M. KNIGHT

An Australian author who provides insight into the human condition.

Reviews - In and Out of Step

Coralie Wood OAM
Theatrical Publicist

'In and Out of Step kept me intrigued as each character leapt from the page and showed me a real insight to school life, teaching, and down to earth struggles with the joys of life. Christine Knight has captured the life of Cassie perfectly ... where is the sequel!'


Mathew Leman
Borders

Knight's skill is seen in the flow and intensity of the story, the complexity of her characters, the wonderful descriptions of place, and her ability to move readers. 'In and Out of Step' is an engrossing insight into life in the late 1980s. The hot topics then remain hot topics today.


Mollie Butler, Journalist
Tweed Daily News

'In and Out of Step', set in a coastal NSW town, takes us on a journey back to the late 1980s via characters in school rooms, on the dance floor, and battling bushfires. It possesses all the ingredients of a good Australian novel exploring the gender problems of the era while transporting us back in time with meticulous detail. From the first page to the last, it is compelling reading.


Wendy O/Hanlon
Acres Australia

Christine M. Knight deftly tracks Cassie's struggles and joys from innocent teenager to world-weary adult. Along the way, we meet a variety of real-life characters who could be your next-door neighbours or friends. Thus, the reader can sympathise not only with Cassie but also with many of the characters that make up her world. The author writes well, setting the scene and populating it with believable characters.


Reviews as featured on Bookworld for the first edition

Mason F.
19/03/2011

A very 'real' world that is artfully brough to life. You care about these characters and also dislike some of them. Although not always a cozy read, overall it was very engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Not a dancer myself, I was fascinated by the way dance was made the backbone of the story and the way the dance scenes worked in the story. Whole-heartedly recommend this novel and writer to you.


great book lover
19/03/2011

My mother recommended this writer to me as she knows I am a fan of Jean Auel. Knight's subject matter is very different from Auel's, but Knight is a skilful writer, and this novel is finely crafted. I really enjoyed the world and the themes explored in 'In and Out of Step'. The picture of workplace dynamics is chillingly accurate. I was moved a number of times while reading which I can tell you doesn't happen a lot nowadays. This is a strongly visual novel that entertains and causes thought as well as discussion. My advice is buy Auel and Knight.


Wesley K.
19/03/2011

I am a fan of the writing style of Jean Auel and Conn Iggulden and am constantly in search of other writers of that calibre to read. This novel was recommended by a girlfriend as such a book. I began reading with reservations thinking this was chic-lit. It isn't! It's people-lit and beautifully crafted. If you like Jean Auel and Conn Iggulden then you'll like this writer. I liked the way the author showed that Cassie was a shadow of herself at the beginning and how and why she grew into a strong person and reclaimed her 'lost identity' as a result of adversity. Really liked the strong male characters as well as their ordinariness that made them closer to the world I know. A really good read with an increasingly strong grip as the story advances. Is there a sequel?


Nora K.
19/03/2011

There is much to recommend in this novel. Knight has written a significant story that realistically captures the late 1980s and issues that were hot topics then and still hot topics now. I shared some great discussions with friends after we read this novel. I felt strongly about the characters and saw them as real people. I connected fully with the central character's feelings of being overwhelmed and out of her depth in the workplace when confronted by serious issues. I wish I could say I had been as strong as Cassie became. I laughed, and yes, I cried as I shared the life explored in the story. Also loved the way dance was integral to the story. This is the sort of story that Aussie moviemakers should make!


Wendy K.
17/01/2011

I met the author at the Melbourne Central store. She was interesting to talk to. This story does not disappoint! The plots are cleverly woven together so that you can't skim. The world and characters really lift off the page - it all seems so real. It has been a while since I read a novel that did this for me. The themes are complex. In a new job, I think I'd be like Cassie. I disliked the men for their early choices but came to understand their dilemma - well at least Selton and Van der Huffen's. I don't think many 'bystanders' in the workplace would make a stand at first either - we are all so preoccupied with our own work. It was interesting to see how the women became catalysts in the change process. Overall, this novel engages you, entertains, and makes you think. This is the sort of novel you want to discuss. I really loved the way dance was used in the story and the fact that it stands for something more than dance itself.


Mary F.
01/09/2011

Set in the late 1980's in a coastal NSW town, 'In and Out of Step' is a drama about life and love that is hard to put down. The characters are engaging and believable, drawing the reader into their world and their lives. The unravelling mystery in Cassie's past and the challenges she faces in dealing with the sinister undercurrents in the workplace are important backdrops to Cassie's journey. Regular injections of wry, tender, funny, observations and experiences lighten those darker moments. 'In and Out of Step' is one of those rare books that is entertaining for adults of all ages that will no doubt leave you yearning for a sequel.


Lochie M.
22/12/2010

A thought-provoking read with some of the issues coming a bit too close to home for my comfort. I ended up rereading this novel after my girlfriend read it. Knight has captured the complexity of real people. Most novels create an air of reality but essentially characters fall into two types: likeable or not. Knight's characters have positives and negatives (like my friends). The debate over Talbut will be like that over Macbeth's character. Knight showed that real life dilemmas are not easily resolved when heart and head are in conflict. I think this novel will be around for a long time.


Fiona S.
27/11/2010

An unforgetable story with a vast emotional landscape. I haven't been pulled into the world of story like this for a very long time. This sort of writer of reason is why I love reading.


Sarah P.
21/11/2010

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the set up of characters and story. Cassie is such a great character. I wish I'd had a teacher like her. All the characters seemed so real; I loved some of the them and was with Cassie in her dislike of others. Paul Selton is a great contemporary Aboriginal character - a great role model. I don't think other stories have ever portrayed the successful Aboriginal male before in such a very real and endearing way. This is the sort of book you'll come back to read a second time.


Jill A.
21/11/2010

'In and Out of Step' is a beautifully crafted novel. I loved it! Readers who appreciate a good backdrop will enjoy Cassie Sleights trajectories into and out of places of social intercourse, a main strength of the authors writerly skills. The story works on several levels intertwining the psycho-social, emotional and political aspects in the personal. There is an interesting nod to myth and symbol; especially with the echo of the Greek story of Cassandra; a woman cursed to be disbelieved and unheard when she speaks the truth. This is a must read for anyone interested in relationships.


Original reviews can be found here at Bookworld

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    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    An era, a show and a legendary album

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    John Shortis and Moya Simpson’s playful sense of humour was evident from the moment I entered their Bungendore property. Their next-door neighbour’s gates featured a sign that read 'Ironing done here'. The wall plaque near Shortis and Simpson’s front door read 'Irony done here'.

    Over a steaming mug of coffee, we discussed the inspiration behind their current cabaret show Fifty Years Ago Today.

    Cobargo Folk Festival commissioned the cabaret after Shortis and Simpson’s acclaimed festival performance about Eurovision and the context out of which it evolved.

    John said, ‘That show was really an entertaining look at the history of Europe post World War 2 linked by bad songs.’

    Fifty Years Ago Today
    marks the anniversary of the launch of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in June 1967 in the northern hemisphere.

    Apparently, the album’s release date in Australia was delayed until July 1967 because the British producers did not trust Australian printers to faithfully reproduce the elaborate artwork of the Sgt Peppers album cover. The covers were produced and printed in England and shipped here via the Suez Canal. Regrettably, the six-day Arab Israeli war broke out and so the shipment was detoured around the South African cape. The album was launched in Australia at the end of July.

    The cabaret’s story line positions the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in the context of what was happening globally at the time. It also provides fascinating insights into the backstory of the album’s creation, dating back to the early 1960s when the Beatles were mop tops, in the heyday of swinging London.

    John said, ‘You can’t tell the story of the Sgt Peppers album without showing the Beatles’ evolution from catchy pop rock songs to complex artful experiments in music.’

    Sgt Peppers
    is the first Beatles’ album after they gave up touring.  The album marks The Beatles’ arrival as recording artists instead or touring musicians. For instance, ‘Ringo’s drumming is more orchestral in its approach. McCartney’s bass work transitioned from simple bass lines that filled out the pop rock sound to complex, intricate bass countermelodies that actually featured on the Sgt Peppers album rather than being fill.’

    Shortis and Simpson’s Fifty Years Ago Today incorporates humour and poignant stories as well as songs of different tempos and styles from that Beatles’ milestone album as well as songs by other famous musicians from that era.

    I was fascinated to learn that the Beatles’ celebrated producer, George Martin, used his background in producing Peter Sellers’ Indian characters on comedy records to bring together Indian and orchestral musicians to produce George Harrison’s Within You Without You.

    John said, ‘While the lyrics are hippy trippy, the music is quite extraordinary because it follows the traditional rhythms and scales of Indian music.’ 

    Moya said, ‘It was a nightmare to learn!’

    John admits to scoring the music into a computer software program and practicing to it every day for ages so that he could synchronize his keyboard part with the rhythms.

    Another interesting aside is that, in celebration of the link between the Beatles and Peter Sellers, Moya sings the Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers’ hit Goodness Gracious Me in the cabaret as part of the side story to the Sgt Peppers album.

    Fifty Years Ago Today was not designed as a nostalgic trip down memory lane, although people who lived through that era may relish the show as such. It provides insight into a seminal moment in music and world history when world music influenced the Beatles music not only in composition but also in performance.

    As we talked, it struck me that the show was very much like a great meal: lavish, prepared with great care, nutritious and good for the soul, and an experience not easily forgotten. The cabaret utilises the rich harmonies of a large choir, the vocal skills of its musicians, and the rocking talent of a hot backing band. It has appeal for all ages.  I also realised that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album prepared audiences for the emergence of another musical phenomenon, Queen, masters of pomp-rock with its diverse rock styles and intricate vocal harmonies.

    This cabaret should not be missed when the show comes to  your part of the country.

    © Christine M Knight

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    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Acknowledging Indigenous Heritage in the Palerang region

    Friday, November 25, 2016

    Recently, I wrote a blog about the restoration of The Carrington Inn. My article about the inn also appears in the District Bulletin's December issue. The District Bulletin reports on country living in the Palerang region. I feel it would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the importance of Indigenous heritage as a side bar to the Carrington article.

    Heritage places are a visible reminder of Australia’s history and identity. If they are neglected or demolished, then part of our history and identity is lost. When they are protected and restored, they add value and dimension to our community. This applies equally to the heritage represented by the traditional owners of the land. It is important to acknowledge that Indigenous heritage when promoting awareness of colonial heritage as it shows respect for Indigenous culture.

    Before European settlement, Indigenous people represented an unbroken culture that was inextricably linked to the land and history of the continent. That relationship and life as Indigenous people knew it changed drastically as a consequence of Dr Charles Throsby and Hamilton Hume's exploration of the region in 1820.

    By the end of 1821, Europeans had settled the region. The provision of a mail service in 1837 formally made the settlement a town while the arrival of train services in 1885 resulted in the town becoming the hub of the region. Cobb and Co coaches transported travellers to far flung settlements. 

    During this period and into the twentieth century, Indigenous people experienced a history of exclusion, denial, and were silenced. Many Indigenous people many died as a result of white settlement (disease and conflict). Indigenous heritage is in the land, in sacred places, lore and values. By contrast, colonial heritage is in buildings and property and its laws.

    To better appreciate the impact of the European arrival in Australia and related issues, click on  The Dispossessed.

     

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    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    The Restoration of the Carrington Inn, Bungendore

    Sunday, November 20, 2016

    Late October, I met Innkeeper, Richard Graham in the motel carpark of The Carrington Inn a few weeks after it had reopened.

    Originally known as The Lord Carrington Hotel, the property was built between 1884-85. It was named after the newly appointed governor of NSW. When the governor retired, the inn became The Carrington Hotel.

    In the 20th century, descendants of the Winters sold the property to Toni Dale who reverted the property to its original function from a domestic residence. It later changed hands until Richard bought it eight years ago.

    As we walked through the half acre of man-made gardens' entrance to the Wintergarden complex, I was struck by their intrinsic naturalness and the patterns of dappled light. Richard said they are ‘one of the largest publicly accessible private gardens in the region.’ He credits the illusion of a much larger space to the use of meandering sinuous paths.

    There are three distinct themed locations within the Wintergarden complex: The Tom Wills Tavern, The Empire Hall and Salons – fine dining, and Myee’s Tearoom. Myee is pronounced my. The tavern’s namesake and a local, Tom Wills was a leading Australian cricketer from 1856 and is said to be the founder of Australian Rules football. Heavy drinking was apparently part of the sport's culture at that time and purportedly played a role in his tragic death in 1880.


     

    Maria Myee Gallagher, 1889-1967, was the granddaughter of the original owner, William Daniel Winter. ‘An educated woman of many talents, Maria Myee never married and lived in the hotel throughout her life.’ She was a skilled pianist and taught the piano as well as the sewing arts and painting to locals. She was also well-known for her charitable work in the town.

    The interview and tour began in Myee’s tearoom. Its décor, like the rest of the complex, ‘pays deference to the 19th century colonial Victorian nature of the Carrington Inn.’ An airy and serene space, the tearoom’s authentic hand-painted stencilled wallpaper, pale green wainscoting, slate floor, furnishings, and hanging baskets suggest a Victorian garden conservatory.

    When I asked about the ideas underpinning the renovation process, Richard explained the choice before him. Restore the inn to look like the property as it had been in 1885 or restore it to reflect the Victorian era from 1885 but have modern restaurant equipment. For commercial reasons, he opted for the latter.

    After much research, Richard and his team distilled the Victorian period to a single restoration intention: ‘allow modern-day patrons to appreciate the aspirational nature of the Victorian era’ and witness a different lifestyle.

    The aspirational mood of the period is clearly visible in the style of ceilings in the tavern and the Empire Hall and Salons. The tavern’s patterned copper ceiling is reminiscent of Tudor ceilings and represents the revival of British styles during the Victorian era. The decorative tin ceiling in one of the salons is another popular architectural element from that period as are the subtly lit, rounded vaulted plaster ceilings in the Empire Hall.


     

    The Victorian theme is evident in the use of decoratively etched glass mirrors, beautiful period-styled drapery, luxurious furnishings, dining settings, and décor accents. Thirty-three hand-painted artwork reproductions tell the colonial story, including artwork by Tom Roberts. In the tradition of the time, a picture of Queen Victoria dominates the Empire Hall.

    The attention to authentic detail is also seen in the use of deeply embossed wall covering (Lincrusta) in  the Empire Hall. Lincrusta was invented in Britain in 1877 by the same man who invented linoleum floor covering some years before.

     

     Having visited many famous historic sites, I found The Carrington Inn as striking as places like Chatsworth House and Hampton Court in UK. Of course, The Carrington's pristine interior décor  and the inn are much smaller in scale than those other historic UK properties.

    As Richard told the stories behind each room’s décor, I realised that he is more than the owner and operator of an enterprise that happens to exist in a heritage property. He is keenly aware of his custodial role in restoring, documenting, and protecting heritage.

    As I left that afternoon, I realised that heritage places not only add dimension to the character of a community and its diversity but to its unique features of streetscapes as well.

     

    Left to right: Mark Summers, General Manager; Edwina Fitzgerald, Accommodation Manager; Me, Innkeeper; Merili Pihlamäe, Venues Manager; and Andrew Stansbie, Executive Chef.

     

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