The novel Bite Your Tongue by Francesca Rendle-Short was published by Spinifex Press in September 2011. It is a work of the imagination that draws on found documents in the archive and on the author’s memory of that time. Bite Your Tongue is the story of a teenage girl’s growing up in Queensland during the 1970s, the daughter of a morals crusader: Angel Rendle-Short / Mother Joy Solider. The tale is thoroughly embedded in Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s conservative Queensland; a time of great social change for the whole of Australia.
Bite Your Tongue is a book that celebrates the power of books and writing: not burning books, but tongue wagging about Dr Joy’s Death List.
It is an investigation into the very nature of storytelling, displaying great humour and heart. While harrowing at times, Bite Your Tongue also displays a superb lightness of touch, and a great joy in the power of language.
‘I think she has done it. Bite Your Tongue is all softness and breath, achieved by careful management of voice; finding it, demanding it, censoring it and best of all, controlling it … the mother’s final weeks, is beautiful.’
Annette Hughes, The Newtown Review of Books
‘Part fable, part fact, it illustrates Rendle-Short’s literary prowess, while also taking us on a tour of archives that reveals her mother’s actions as a moral crusader, and memorabilia from a childhood when “Queensland was innocent … the going was pineapple-sweet.”’
Donata Carrazza, Australian Book Review