Meet Me at Lennon’s by Melanie Myers

1. First lines 2. Published 2019 University of Queensland Press. 3. Jacaranda of UQ by Tatters ✾ [CC BY-SA 2.0] via flickr 4. Women with visiting American sailors, Brisbane, Queensland, 1941 [out of copyright] via State Library of Queensland 5. Lennon’s Hotel, Brisbane 1950 [personal use, may be shared, or posted on a blog or website; maintain the integrity of the image; use the credit supplied] Ref: WA-24182-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22722909
Realistic portrayal of wartime Brisbane.

The year is 1942, and American soldiers are based in Brisbane. Overall, they are welcomed into the community, but sometimes things turn nasty, and when a young woman is discovered dead on the riverbank, suspicions are aroused. Another thread to the story happens in the present-day, with Olivia Wells, a student researching the work of a mid-twentieth century Brisbane writer, Gloria Graham. In her research she discovers reference to the murder of 1942 and tries to find out more.

“Gloria drove back to the garage, getting stuck behind a convoy of lorries as they lumbered off the Grey Street Bridge. Brisbane’s newfound vibrancy had come at the cost of its artless countrified charm: air-raid shelters down every street, water pipes along the gutters, sandbags lumped like sleeping seals against public building doors, boarded-up windows imprisoned in wire netting.”

“Alice had the kind of face – ordinary as grass, she always supposed, but likewise appreciated when needed – that reminded some older officers of their daughters back home.”

~Quotes from “Meet Me at Lennon’s” by Melanie Myers.
  • Books and Publishing: ”…the depiction of Brisbane during World War II and the emphasis on women’s experiences on the home front is well realised and engaging, the contemporary timeline feels aimless in comparison. The best parts of Meet Me at Lennon’s are set in the past, involving the women’s stories. I wonder if this novel would have been more successful as a work of historical fiction, rather than attempting to capitalise on the current popularity of dual timeline narratives.”
  • Judges’ Comment (Queensland Literary Awards): “First time novelist Myers has produced a strong work of fiction. A dual narrative, set both in contemporary Brisbane and in the early 1940s effortlessly shifting between the two. With a strong female cast, it provides both an insight into wartime Brisbane and explores the enduring legacy of violence against women.”

Author’s website: Melanie Myers

Awards: 2020 Shortlisted Queensland Literary Awards

Historical note: American servicemen were based in Brisbane from the end of 1941 until 1945. General Douglas MacArthur, lived at Lennon’s Hotel with his family while he was in Brisbane. Mostly, relationship between local people and the Americans was good, but there were tensions between the two nation’s forces. In November 1942, this led to a riot called the Battle of Brisbane in which one Australian was killed. More information: Submariners Walk (You Tube video). Visit the MacArthur Museum at what is now known as MacArthur Chambers in recognition of that facet of the City’s history.

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