Finding Artemisia is a true story: a journey into the ancient female mind and spirit; a re-discovery of the powerful connection between women and their authentic roots.
Millie’s camp was sprawled under a stunted tree. A plastic tarp and a few string bags hung from a bough that protruded at a right angle from the trunk. There were a couple of fires near the base, and women sitting in the last of the morning shade were hollowing out lumps of wood. Some boldly carved the outer skins, while others used red-hot coat hangers to brand the fleshy wood.
Millie took the crusty damper from Mavis and showed Diana where to put the jam and butter on the ground beside her. She broke the damper into chunks and set them in the lap of her dress. It was faded and dirty.
Diana remained standing, not sure what to do next. No one spoke English, and Mavis had already joined the other women.
With a small, white, plastic knife, Millie spread the melted butter and the runny strawberry jam onto one piece and handed it to Diana, motioning that she sit down. Then she prepared a bit for herself.
Diana waited for Millie to start eating before she did. But Millie started laughing at her, exposing her gummy mouth. Diana didn’t know why she was laughing. Was it because she was being polite and standing on ceremony? She felt clueless. Here was this toothless woman with supposed powers, her mouth full of damper, laughing at her.
Diana took a bite of the doughy bread. She needed to eat. She could taste the sugar in the jam. She was a breakfast girl and useless without it. She took a bigger bite.
Suddenly she could hear herself chewing. There was a pressure inside her ears, as if she were at high altitude. Everything around seemed strangely quiet. She looked about. The women were still working with Mavis beside them and Millie was still toothlessly chewing. It all looked normal, but something had changed—atmospherically.
Diana opened her mouth and tried to make her ears pop, but she was finding it hard to breathe. She looked at Millie. The old lady’s eyes were downcast. She wanted to ask, are you doing this? But it seemed ridiculous.
The heat from the women’s fires was pouring into her now. The sun was hammering the top of her head, and the space around her seemed to be shifting somehow. She needed to grab hold of the ground.
She tried to pull back from the fire’s heat. But as she did, she saw something emerge from the shimmering flames; it was the pale girl from last night. She was dancing in the fire.
Then the earth slid from under her. She made a grab for it, but it was too late.
Denise Greenaway is an Australian psychologist, educator and author of Mirror Mirror, a body-image fairytale workbook for girls aged eight to twelve, and Rainbow Food, a healthy eating workbook for schools and families.
Finding Artemisia is a page turner. I bought it for my mother, but I really enjoyed it too. Before reading this novel, I knew nothing about anorexia or traditional Aboriginal custom, so I found it very informative. But it is also really enjoyable. I was particularly pleased with the way the main male character was portrayed.
Dr Richard A Wiltshire
I laughed and cried throughout this wonderful story. I was there all the way. The many deep levels sang to me. An important book that packs a powerful punch. Thank you for the journey.
Ms Virginia Bryan
Finding Artemisia is instantly seductive and skillfully woven - a patchwork of raw and appealing characters and intensely meaningful experiences cleverly cloaked in layers of magic, mysticism and modernity. An incredible journey into 'ancient women's business' and the vulnerability and strength that comes through the authentic connection of women across time and culture. I couldn’t put it down. I laughed and I sobbed, AND was inspired to love and support the women around me.
PS to the author: thank you for the sensitive unraveling of female relationships, thank you for reminding me of the crucial nurturing role of aunties and thank you for giving Diana a husband and valuing life and love with men. I'll certainly be recommending Finding Artemisia to all my friends."
Beautiful cover which attracted me at first. I bought 2 copies, one for my sister and the other for my wife. Very interesting and descriptive. They thought it was fantastic and now I am in the good books for sometime. I hope she writes another.
Finding Artemisia is a fascinating, compelling and beautifully paced story. It is unlike any book i have read before and is impossible to put it down. The author takes us into the shadows of worlds that have not been fully explored in todays society, such as anorexia, eating disorders and body image issues and then magically weaves this topic into an adventure type self help exploration tale, which takes us deep into the outback and sitting with ancient wisdom. I highly recommend this book to any women that wonders "what it is to be a woman" in todays world.
I Loved that book! It transported me from my everyday life in Canada to the very center of the australian desert. What a magnificent journey into the breathtaking world of indigenous Australia. This is a fascinating insight into the reality of many girls suffering today, from eating disorders. This book is too good not to share!
I felt as if I was on the journey every step of the way. What a rare opportunity to visit a remote Aboriginal community and at the same time have an insight into the modern world of body image and eating disorders. This is a great story, which will help readers to understand women's struggles with their body image in today's world.
M. K. Druesne
I was lucky enough to be given this book - though I had spotted it and already knew that it was one i wanted to read. Denise has managed to combine her considerable experience of handling the psyche of the unwell with her exploration into the wisdom and culture of the people of her native land. The result is a subtle but strong encounter with both. It surely resonates with all, in one way or another, and is a beautiful gift to those that recognise the signs within that remind us we all - and always connected. Thank you for bringing us such a great story - and may you enjoy much success on the back of it. Please write another!
A fascinating glimpse into the rituals of aboriginal women and their relevance to all modern women. So interesting and if you want to really feel the heat and see the extraordinary beauty of the Australian desert, "Finding Artimesia" is for you. An amazing experience. More please Denise!
I enjoyed Finding Artemesia from start to finish. The characters were completely believable and intriguing. Having spent time in the outback of Australia I was fascinated with the scenes with the Aboriginal women and with the white women who lived and worked among them. The dialogue was authentic and I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the subject of anorexia in young girls. Or just wants a fast moving,enjoyable yarn A terrific read. Congratulations to the author.
I loved the imagery, really enjoyed the "journey", it offered something new and mysterious. It hooks you right into the story, believable characters, highly recommend it.
What a fabulous book. Not only a wonderful and insightful journey into Australian indigenous "women's business" but a compelling story, difficult to put down. I just bought another copy for my sister in law who I know will love it too. Thank you
I'm not a big reader, however I found it difficult to put this book down. I really felt myself transported into the centre of Australia. I have long wanted to make that journey myself; To learn more about the lives of the indigenous people of Australia. What I discovered was far more than I had expected. I would encourage every woman to read this wonderful book;
I finished reading this book in a couple of days, I truly cant remember the last time I devoured a book like that. The need for Wisdom, Belonging, and Spiritual Understanding is so important in our lives, and this book certainly imparts a connection to this, through the Journey of all the Women in it. I personally felt healing occur with my mother/daughter relationship as my inner-feeling journeyed into the lives of the characters and sacred womens business. So thank you Denise Greenaway. I am unable to go on your Desert trip with you this time but the book somehow gave me the feeling of being there which was good enough for now. I finished the book feeling refreshed, and relieved by the healing I experienced, and with a deep respect for indigenous wisdom. LOVE.