Friendship at Forty – my review of ‘Tiddas’ by Anita Heiss

3 Mar

tiddas coverI jumped at the chance to read Tiddas, because while I have read Anita’s memoir, Am I Black Enough for You? I had not yet read any of her women’s fiction. Anita, a proud Wiradjuri woman, has created a whole new genre in fiction — Koori chick-lit. Her novels are about smart, urban, Aboriginal women who like to shop, but are also socially aware and deeply rooted in their culture.

With Tiddas, she departs from her four previous novels about footloose singles by introducing us to a group of women on the cusp of forty. The title of the book means ‘friends’ and the story revolves around five tiddas who grew up together in Mudgee, but have found their way to Brisbane.

The action in the story takes place over about a year and uses the device of a monthly book group meeting as a marker for the changing seasons and lives of the five. The nature and value of female friendship is the thematic backdrop to the way each tidda deals with the central issues in her life.

There were so many things I enjoyed about this book. Having grown up in Brisbane, I loved the setting — the river, the joggers at Kangaroo Point and the gorgeous jacarandas that feature on the cover. The tiddas, Izzy, Veronica, Xanthe, Nadine and Ellen are well-rounded and despite, or maybe because of, their faults they are all likeable and fun to be around. On one level this is a study of issues relevant to all woman of this age — sex, fertility, career and relationships. But the book also gives an insight, through the tiddas, into Aboriginal culture and politics. Izzy, for example, aspires to be Australia’s Oprah, while Xanthe is a cultural awareness trainer and Ellen a funeral celebrant. I found the tiddas’ journeys realistic — their friendship waxes, wanes and sometimes falters. As in life, not everyone gets tied up with a ‘happily ever after’.

Tiddas is a warm-hearted book, which delves gently into both personal and social issues in a way that feels intrinsic to the story. I became involved in the lives of the tiddas and read the book quickly, finishing it with a sense of having been enriched by some lively and intelligent company.

Those of you who live near Byron Bay are lucky because Anita Heiss will be in our town soon… 

I will be discussing Tiddas with Anita at the Byron Bay Library on March 14 5.30pm for 6.00 (Phone 6685 8540 to book) and she is also running a workshop on writing women’s fiction on March 15 (see

You can find out more about Anita and the Byron Bay event here. 

This is my first post for the 2014 Australian Women Writers Challenge

6 Responses to “Friendship at Forty – my review of ‘Tiddas’ by Anita Heiss”

  1. Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie March 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    Koori chick-lit? This is intriguing. Very intriguing! Thanks for bringing this book to my attention, Lisa!

    • Lisa Walker March 4, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      It’s fantastic Julie and I think Anita is the only one doing it. So highly recommend!

      • Alison Watts April 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

        Think I’ll enjoy this book….my galpals are important to me too!

      • Lisa Walker April 9, 2014 at 8:56 am #

        I’m sure you will! It’s a great read with lots to say about the value of friends.


  1. March 2014: General Fiction | Australian Women Writers Challenge - April 4, 2014

    […] personal way, such as the role of women within the family group and the community tribe.” Lisa Walker finished the book, “with a sense of having been enriched by some lively and intelligent […]

  2. February/March 2014 Roundup: Diversity | Australian Women Writers Challenge - April 28, 2014

    […] (an Indigenous word meaning friends who are as close as sisters) in Brisbane on the cusp of 40.  Lisa Walker writes that ‘On one level this is a study of issues relevant to all woman of this age — sex, […]

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