A Look at Come In Spinner

A 1988 interview with Florence James, co-author with Dymphna Cusack of Come in Spinner (1951) offers some insight into the original aims of the book. We found that our concerns about women and social justice were parallel and we said: “Why don’t we tell the truth through fiction? Nobody wants to read straight-out essays on the subject”?.. we wanted to get at the truth “?.. we tried to weave together social expectations and what women were really like’. This is the key to understanding the central concerns behind Spinner, set in war-time Sydney during 1944: James and Cusack were intent on writing something which illuminated the truthful position of women in society during that time. They did not produce an essay, but their purpose was similar: not just to entertain, but also to inform, to offer a different and challenging perspective. A review in the Daily Telegraph described their efforts as a “remarkably vivid and real picture of Sydney in war-time’. The question then is whether director Robert Marchand’s interpretation of Spinner has remained true to this original objective. While the original text contains a greater amount of detail on the peripheral characters, Marchand chooses to focus mainly on the three central women, Deb, Guinea and Claire. Thus their concerns and the conflicts and issues in their lives naturally occupy a position of great significance in our minds: they become our window onto the world of war-time Sydney. In particular, Marchand explores the degree to which men continued to assume a dominant role in the lives of women, despite their burgeoning independence and a greater sense of empowerment offered to them by war-time conditions. Marchand’s interpretation reflects particularly on the patriarchal values and defined gender roles which premised during this time, and the way in which women both challenged and accepted them. Marchand constantly presents us with visual remind…

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