Another of my Christmas books ticked off the ‘to be read’ list. Magda Szubanski is an Australian icon and a treasure. She has appeared on most of our tv sets at one point or another, usually in the form of Sharon, the nation’s most famous second-best friend, in arguably the country’s best ever sitcom Kath and Kim.
This autobiography, written with emotion, honesty and flair, winds it way around a long road that eventually reveals the threads that bind person and character. When I say a long road though, it’s one that you’ll want to stay on, not just for its twists and turns but for the scenery along the way.
The book starts with family history, first of Magda’s father (Polish) and then her mother (Scottish and Irish). These subjects could just about fill a book each on their own. I didn’t know much about Poland and/or its place in the second World War, so this was as much a history lesson for me as a part of the story.
What follows is a meandering through the author’s early childhood starting in England, the family’s shift to the outer suburbs of Melbourne, a childhood learning to fit in to a different culture, a difficult adolescence (aren’t they all…), attempts at uni and the exciting life adventures that come with it, backpacking through Europe, the decision to give acting a go, working with some of the most famous names in Australian comedy, Hollywood, supporting same sex marriage and coming out live on tv. Starting and finishing with her family, this book left me wondering (as I often do) about the push and pull between nature and nurture.
It’s a fairly lengthy book at nearly 400 pages but it could have been twice as long and I’d still want to read more. I hope this is not the last we’ll see of Madga Szubanski as a serious author.