This novel is an exploration of the fate of an Australian "New Woman" and also of Australian identity as a whole. Stella Courtland is transformed from an independent girl with a passion for the writings of Goethe, Schiller, and Kant to a married woman, hemmed in by social constraints.
Stella Courtland's transformation from an independent girl with a passion for the writings of Goethe, Schiller, and Kant to a married woman, hemmed in by social constraints, is the subject of Catherine Martin's novel of 1890. An exploration of the fate of an Australian 'New Woman', the novel is also steeped in questions of Australian identity. Not only does Martin satirize and scrutinize colonial hierarchies, but she anticipates Australia's nationhood and the values of a new generation. A journalist and essayist as well as a novelist, Catherine Martin was fascinated the question of what 'Australianness' might be at a time when Australia was breaking away from its status as a British colony, and, through the story of Stella's moral and emotional growth she paints a vivid picture of this turning point in Australian history.
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