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Meet Frances Maber


I was born in England, educated in WA and fascinated by stories from the moment I could read. My career was in education, mostly as an administrator and senior manager in the Commonwealth Department of Education (where I was awarded an OBE) and finally as Registrar at Murdoch University. I retired early and we travelled to meet my English rellies and to hunt for my husband’s forebears. In between times I published six children’s books favouring wombats.

This was all good preparation for a novel in which the subject is my great-great-grandmother-in-law. REMEMBERING CATHARINE is a ‘ghost memoir’ based on minimal formal documentation combined with colonial newspaper stories and lots of imagination. Catharine was a tough little bird who survived everything life threw at her. She deserved that her story be told.



This ghost memoir tells the life of Catharine Maber, from her harsh beginnings as a child in Ireland, to her eventual marriage and transportation to a penal colony in Australia. A skilled embroiderer, which often helped her to survive, Catharine tells her story through the making of a patchwork quilt. 

Phil Angus said:

A riveting and rollicking tale of early Australian settlement…

Frances Maber must have put a lot into the research of this tale, as both the historic detail and the “feel” of the times, was very well described.  It was a very interesting read, and although often describing a series of dire misfortunes and hardships, the story didn’t wallow and got on with it, much as the protagonist Catharine obviously did too. The quilt structure around which the plot was organised, was a great way to reveal the events, and helped sign post the various adventures (and misadventures) very well!  Great debut novel and can’t wait to read the next one!!

Peter Deering - UK

I have obtained copies of your new book via Amazon. I can understand how difficult it is to write a biography as a person 'removed' you certainly caught my interest.

I think you know I have acquired an interest in the deportation of British and Irish convicis in the first half of the 19th Centuary and I have joined the Hobart Town First Settler's Association. I have posted a copy of your book to them for their considerable Library on the subject.

Catherine Abbott

I found myself a copy of "Remembering Catharine" and have just finished reading it... Thank you for recommending it to me - fascinating to read about one of those who made a new life in a new country despite a miserable beginning. I think "fictional biography" is my favourite genre - a story picking up on a few nearly forgotten stories with far more gaps than facts. I nearly always finish such a book wishing I could know where the author started - ie, how much work had to be done to fill in the spaces. I did read one that, at the end of the book, did give the original information. As I say, fascinating.

Peter Staples - Bathford

Your book has come and I am enthralled and already a fair way into it. You have a wonderful style of story telling which makes it very easy to read - and hard to put down! Thank-you so much.

When we restart the Bathford Society talks at the end of September I will tell the audience about it.

Deidre Fordham - UK

I have now read “Remembering Catharine”. I really enjoyed doing so. You have given Catharine her own voice and character, yet also painted a fuller picture about the lives of ordinary folk who found themselves on the other side of the world and made the most of what opportunities there were. I can imagine an interesting book club discussion about the values and attitudes which these early settlers had and their legacy. The narrative was brought to life by your brother’s illustrations. They complemented the text so well yet also have a life of their own, especially the last one which indeed brings together the whole story. I do so hope that this “ghost memoir”- a phrase new to me - is being well received.

Kaye Kelly

I put down a Rowling book to read Maber!

The story is engaging, fast-moving and not too long, easy to read and absorbing. The presentation is great. No unnecessary detail. The transition from fact to fiction is always smooth. The quilt motif is interesting and the illustrations are a real addition to the tale. Catharine has her own voice and character.

Anne Astin

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in fact could not put it down. I guess I may be biased as I am family but give it 5 stars+








24th April 2024