A Woman’s Work

Out now


The astonishingly rich prize of the 1956 Australian Women’s Weekly cookery competition offers two women the possibility of a new kind of future, in this compassionate look at the extraordinary lives of ordinary women – our mothers and grandmothers – in a beautifully realised post-war Australia.

It’s 1956, and while Melbourne is in a frenzy gearing up for the Olympics, the women of Australia are cooking up a storm for their chance to win the equivalent of a year’s salary in the extraordinary AustralianWomen’s Weekly cookery contest.

For two women, in particular, the prize could be life-changing. Mother-of-five Kathleen O’Grady has no time for cooking competitions, but the prize could offer her a different kind of life. As her forays into new recipes boost her confidence, she finds her desire to make her own life decisions – for herself and her children – becoming more important.

For war widow Ivy Quinn, the competition means more time to spend with her 12-year old-son, Raymond, the development of an unexpected friendship with colleague, Dr Harry Johnson, and the courage to tell the truth about Raymond’s father.

As winter turns to spring and the contest deadline looms, both women begin to realise that the competition has given them so much more than cooking skills – it offers a new way of seeing the world and the chance to free themselves from the ghosts of the past. As each woman begins to question their lives, the question becomes whether it is winning the competition that will change their futures, or the changes in themselves.

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