From the moment Alexandra Joel author of Rosetta warned us she had props and wasn’t afraid to use them, we knew we were in for a great show. A tale of forbidden love in the early 1900’s followed. A Melbourne mother and wife disappearing over the horizon with Zeno the Magnificent to con the British aristocracy – it sounds fantastic doesn’t it? When Alexandra revealed that this was no fancy but the story of her very own great-grandmother, she had us.

Connecting with an audience through words on a page is one thing but to have them standing right in front of you, waiting to be enthralled and delighted, is quite another. It’s not just about the way your sentences are structured, your characters are formed or even how well you read – it’s about performance.

Last night at the Stoneleigh Hotel, four authors entertained a packed crowd of avid book and wine lovers, with tales of mystery, danger, romance and intrigue. The evening began with the lovely Josephine Pennicott, taking us to the mysterious Currawong Manor in the Blue Mountains and closed in 1940’s Sydney with Anna Westbrook’s debut novel Dark Fires Shall Burn.

Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill spun a glorious tale of how an astrophysics student turned lawyer, turned illustrator became a writer – that was before she even got to her book. She introduced A Few Right Thinking Men which is the first of her Rowland Sinclair mystery series and if you fancy a taste of 1930’s Sydney, she’s released a free novella, The Prodigal Son. I started it on the way home and can happily recommend it:-)


A big applause to Sydney institution Better Read Than Dead and Stoneleigh Wines for putting on a wonderful event in a truly unique venue.

The hotel itself is wickedly decked out with a wild array of vintage items, bubbling cauldrons and greenery – it is only open to 3 December, so if you are in Sydney’s Chippendale and fancy dropping in, have a look at the website to see what times it’s open to the public.