From the Better Half

from the better half book coverFrom the Better Half: Quotations from Tamara Fraser and Her Friends
Nelson, Ed.

Submitter: Who? I had to look up who Tamara Fraser was, and even after that was left wondering why our academic library would need a collection of quotations from Australian politicians’ wives in the 1970s. Surely, original source material exists that would provide better insight into this subject. At the very least a book of quotations should inspire some sort of timeless sentiments in the reader. Random selections from this book, devoid of context, simply left me blank-faced, slightly puzzled as to whether the book was intended as satire or praise. This book had a very short half-life indeed, and it’s a wonder that it was still on our shelves 50 years since its publication.

Holly: Unless your academic library is in Australia, this seems like a stretch for pretty much any library to hang on to. It is cataloged with words like “politicians wives,” “quotations,” “anecdotes,” and of course, “Australia.” It definitely looks at first glance like caricature and satire, and the back cover does say it’s the “funniest book published in Australia in a long time,” so I’m not sure what to think. Australians, please weigh in!

back cover

before election after the elections book text book text book text






  1. I am Australian. I was born in the ’70’s and have vaguely heard of Malcolm Fraser but his wife…? Never. Unlike America, our Prime Minister’s wife is not usually as much of a public / media figure.
    I suspect this was out of date almost as soon as it was published. 🙁

  2. The cover is completely baffling to me. Is she holding a severed foot on the end of her fork?!?!

  3. What’s with the horrible cannibalistic cartoon on the cover?! Ugh. Even if the book had any valuable content, I would have trouble getting past that.

  4. Back in the day she was always known as Tamie Fraser. She was the wife of the prime minister at the time, Malcolm Fraser, who rather mysteriously lost his trousers in a Memphis bar sometime in the mid-eighties.

    This book does represent a minor step forward for Australian women at the time. Until the early seventies, married women in the public eye had men’s names – and not just their surnames. So instead of being Tamie Fraser, she would’ve been called Mrs Malcolm Fraser. Sonia was Mrs Billy McMahon, and so on. I kid you not – Australia was a country full of women called Bob and Billy and Clive.

    Anyway, I digress. I can only imagine the word “funniest” on the back cover is in the sense funny – peculiar, defintely not funny – ha ha.

  5. This is obviously in the same category as all those books that eagerly compile supposedly stupid/hilarious malaprops or clumsy statements by Bush 43, Dan Quayle, or the like made while campaigning or in office.

    Its function is to make a quick buck while promoting political opposition.

    And the book has a useful shelf life about equivalent to that of a mayfly’s life. Okay, maybe a fly’s life.

    I don’t care if such books do drive up library circulation; I’m opposed to public libraries buying books with such short useful lives.

  6. Can anyone help me understand the phrase, “slits from ear to ear in your dress”?

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