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Madeleine St. John Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Women in Black (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Pure Clear Light (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Essence of the Thing (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Stairway to Paradise (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Madeleine St. John was a renowned Australian writer and an award-winning novelist. She likes to write chick-lit, cultural, historical fiction, women’s fiction, romance, and adult fiction stories. Madeleine wrote several widely successful single novels in her career, including The Women in Black, Stairway to Paradise, The Essence of the Thing, Friends For Dinner, A Pure Clear Light, etc. She holds the reputation of being the first woman from Australia to be nominated for the Booker Prize. Madeleine had achieved this feat for her 1997 book called The Essence of the Thing. Author Madeleine was born on November 12, 1941, in Castlecrag, Sydney, Australia. She completed her schooling from Queenwood Girls School in Mosman. Her father, Edward St. John, was the son of a clergyman of the Church of England and a Counsel of the Queen, while her mother, Sylvette Cargher, was a French citizen.

Following the suicidal death of her mother at the age of 12, Madeleine was sent to live with her Romanian Jews grandparents. Madeleine studied arts at Sydney University. During her time at the university, her contemporaries were Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, Richard Walsh, Bruce Beresford, Clive James, Arthur Dignam, Robert Hughes, and John Bell. Madeleine’s father had defended Richard Walsh in the first obscenity trial of Oz in 1964. Following her graduation, Madeleine married a filmmaker named Christopher Tillam. After their marriage, the couple relocated to San Francisco, where Madeleine lived as a housewife while Christopher focused on his studies in filmmaking. Their marriage ended in divorce after Madeleine decided to move to England in 1968. She lived there until her death.

After her relocation to England, Madeleine took several jobs in offices and bookshops. One of her jobs was a part-time work for 2 days per week at a Kensington-based antique shop. In the next 8 years that followed, Madeleine tried her hand at writing Helena Blavatsky’s biography, but she was dissatisfied with her work and finally decided to destroy the manuscript. It was not before the early 1990s that Madeleine attempted to write novels. She made her debut in 1993 and achieved tremendous fame and success. However, despite her success as a writer, Madeleine kept her life private and didn’t like to socialize. Her death occurred on June 18, 2006, in a hospital in London due to emphysema and her body was rested in Kensal Green Cemetery.

In 2013, author Helen Trinca wrote and published Madeleine’s biography called Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John. Her first novel, The Women in Black, was re-released in 2009 and depicts a story filled with humor that takes place in a department store in Sydney in the 1950s. This book is the only one that Madeleine set in her home-country, Australia. The book was adapted into a musical called Ladies in Black in 2015 by Carolyn Burns and Tim Finn. A film, also called Ladies in Black, was made under the direction of Bruce Beresford in 2018. Following the film’s release in Australia, there was another release of the book with the title of the film.

The next three books that Madeleine wrote can be considered a trilogy as all three of them are set in Notting Hill, the place where she resided in London. At the time of her death, Madeleine was in the process of developing a new novel that remained unfinished. Bruce Beresford has described Madeleine as a writer whose strength for writing comes from minutiae’s accumulation. On one occasion, she had become too furious over a minor point in one of her book’s translation in French and rejected it completely. Madeleine has made it clear in her will that no translation of any of her novels should take place in any language.

A successful book written by author Madeleine St. John is entitled ‘The Essence of the Thing’. It was published in 1997 and features the lead characters in the roles of Nicola, Jonathan, and several others. The novel opens by showing that Nicola goes out to get some cigarettes and returns to find a stranger sitting in her apartment. The man appears to be her live-in partner named Jonathan, but something in him makes Nicola feel that he cannot be the dependable known man loved by her. Nicola wonders if she can stand a man who looks like Jonathan, but more adorable and stronger than him. In this book, Madeleine has described a sad story of love that goes south, but still contains many funny elements. The readers either feel the urge to cry or laugh as they go through the tale elegantly and acutely captured by Madeleine. It shows the lengths to which women will go to save their love and the ways which men will adopt to escape. The book succeeds in grabbing the attention and sympathy of the readers from start to finish.

Another exciting novel penned by the author is known as ‘A Stairway to Paradise’. It was released by the Carroll & Graf publication in 1999. This book contains the central characters in the form of Alex, Andrew, Barbara, and a few others. Initially, it is depicted that Alex is stuck in a calmly professional and cold marriage and is living a miserable life. He thinks of leaving everything and running away, but cannot do so because of his 2 children. Andrew has recently returned home after living for 10 years in the United States. He has left his former wife and a daughter on their own. The common link in the stories of Andrew and Alex is Barbara, who is the lustrous and enchanting object of the affection of the two men. She was self-possessed a few years back, but now, lives a strangely unfulfilled and aimless life.

This poignant and characteristically witty book follows the lives of three people, who are stuck in a miserable tangle of desires and emotions. None of them can articulate their dissatisfaction and longing’s precise quality. Author Madeleine has elegantly and acutely described the progress of the 3 characters through multiple false starts, misapprehensions, and reversals. The outcome of this story is a deeper understanding of loss and longing. This book found many takers in different parts of the world and received great reviews. It helped to bring more reputation to Madeleine’s career and motivate her to write more exciting stories.

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