Home' Aurora : Aurora September 2014 Contents 11
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Maitland's Annette Young is well and tr uly
occupied raising four boisterous sons, but
amidst the commotion, she found time
to write her fir st novel, A Distant Prospect.
Annette's husband Francis, and sons John
Paul, Patrick, Max and Benedict, are
naturally proud of her achievement.
Most of Annette's youth was lived on
Sydney's nor th shore. She did not always
enjoy school and "invented imaginary
friends a s a way of sur viving". She had
already developed a love of classical music,
"but there was nobody to share it with and
that was hear tbreakingly lonely".
When she was 18, Annette conver ted
to Catholicism. She found her new faith
answered many of the problems she had
been grappling with. "I wanted a way of
living my life; I wanted explanations."
Annette attended Sydney University,
earned an Honours History Degree, and
began teaching for several year s . She
enjoyed the experience but became
unsettled. "It was a real crossroads point of
my life." She retur ned to univer sity.
While in her 30s, Annette under took
her PhD in English Literatur e. During this
time she wrote the first draft of A Distant
Prospect over six months. "I found it
incredibly cathar tic. It's ex tr aordinary what
things star ted coming out when you are
forced to put yourself into words .
"At the end of this period, I realised how
impor tant music was to me." Annette had
studied music from the age of six. "It has
been my saving gr ace."
What followed was a notable time in
Annette's life. She completed her PhD and
finally pursued her music career. "I'm a
pianist, I star ted teaching piano and r unning
a studio, and took up the cello."
Annette and Francis mar ried in 2002
and as their sons arrived, she decided to
complete the book largely written 17 year s
earlier. "I sat down and re-wrote it. It is
ama zing what mar riage and children do to
your per spective." Annette fir mly believes
that when you write, you address the big
questions from your own life.
Subsequent dr afts saw major changes to
the story with new individuals added and
different plot developments due to the
maturity and lived experience Annette had
undergone since first writing the book.
A Distant Prospect is narr ated by Lucy, an
Irish lass who arrives in 1920s Sydney
with her father following the tr agic death
of his wife and Lucy's mother. Lucy is
str uck down by polio and spends her
recuper ation learning the cello. She attends
a Catholic girls' school and is relentlessly
taunted because of her disability.
She studies the cello with a gifted teacher
who persists in bringing three other girls
together to perfor m as a quar tet. Despite
initial resistance, they eventually become
close friends and share each other's
families, homes, peaks and slumps. Their
lives change as they grow in maturity,
personality and musical prowess.
Annette is meticulous in fact and
description. Ther e are many sub-plots,
challenges and upheavals throughout the
book; the Catholic Church and devotions
of that er a feature. Sydney during the
latter 1920s post World War I is depicted
with detail and accur acy in language and
architectur e. Significant events of that time
Annette says, "Music is a unifying, healing
and transfor ming process ." In her book,
the most pr edominant theme is music:
the tunes and instruments; the people who
love, imagine, live and play music; the magic,
Author Annette Young.
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A Distant Prospect has been well received,
although ironically, Annette found it difficult
when the final draft was completed.
"Letting go of the manuscript was the most
scary thing. I had poured out my soul." The
way she has overcome that fear is to begin
writing again. She is now on her first draft
of another book, a sequel to A Distant
To win a signed copy of A Distant Prospect,
send an envelope with your name, address
and phone number to Aurora, A Distant
Prospect, PO Box 756 Newcastle 2300 by
20 September. Like A Distant Prospect on
Facebook and receive occasional updates from
Annette. Visit http://adistantprospect.com for
more information or to buy a signed copy.
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