Sunday, 28 July 2019

Book Review: Making Trouble - Tongued with Fire (Biography/History)

Making Trouble - Tongued with Fire
Sue Ingleton

Publisher: Spinifex Press
Publication Date: 1st August 2019
Pages: 256
Format  read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

In the winter of 1875, two rebellious spirits travel from England to Australia. Harriet Rowell (age 22) and Alice Moon (age 18) were champion swimmers in a time when women didn’t go into the sea; and they were in love in a time when many women were in love with each other but held such love secretly. Harriet and Alice took on the world at a dangerous time for women’s freedom of expression, but their love ended when Alice moved to Sydney to become a writer.

Before Harriet can get over her grief from the breakup, tragedy strikes; Alice is found dead in her bed at thirty-seven. Suspicions rest upon the powerful, chauvinistic scientist, John McGarvie Smith, with whom Alice had been working in her newfound capacity as a journalist. This book seeks to uncover the truth of Alice’s death and seek justice.

Making Trouble – Tongued with Fire is the imagined history of Harriet Elphinstone Dick and Alice C Moon.

Sue Ingleton has undertaken extensive research to compile this story however there are many aspects of these women’s lives that must be assumed or created as there is very little written communication available. Ingleton uses travel records, newspaper clippings and death certificates to validate her story.

Harriet, born in England in 1852, is a woman ahead of her time. She believed that women weren’t weak and feeble minded, as men would have them believe, and given the chance could be just as athletic as men. She was to become a great swimmer often competing in races against men.

In 1876 Harriet migrates to Australia, the land of opportunity, with partner Alice Moon. Alice was quick-witted, outspoken and bold. She loved a challenge. Harriet was more level headed, discrete and diplomatic.
The two women opened women’s gymnasiums in Australia and took their exercise programs to girls’ schools. Their aim was to bring the health that came with rural activity to women in the city.

I was fascinated by this story of two little known women who made such great inroads into women’s health and fitness and also women’s rights in Australia.
The author narrates the story more like a fictional tale than a biography bringing the reader right into the home, and daily life, of these women.

The story moves from Melbourne to Sydney and the two women have quite a list of remarkable achievements with a shadow hanging over Alice Moon’s untimely death.

Recommended for anyone who is interested in learning more about the women who pioneered our health and fitness regime and pushed for women’s rights.

On a side note, I don't think the cover or title give the book justice as this truly is an engaging read and extremely well written. I honestly think if I saw this on a shelf I would pass it up so I am immensely grateful for the publishers giving me the opportunity to read this amazing story.


 My rating   4/5 

photo credit: Spinifex Press

Sue Ingleton is a multi-award winning actor, director, writer and stand-up comedian. 
Sue is a recipient of the Sydney Myer Individual Performing Arts Award, the Gloria Dawn/Gloria Payten Award, a Perrier Award Nomination at Edinburgh Fringe, and has performed at Adelaide International Festival of Arts, Montreal Juste Pour Rire, Festival of Fools UK, many Melbourne International Comedy Festivals, and New York International Theatre Festival. 
She has written and produced eleven plays, written two books and is in three published short story anthologies. 

You can connect with the author at the following sites:
Website  ||  


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this, I have it waiting to be read and it's good to know it's a good read.

    1. I hope you enjoy it Claire. Ingleton's writing is immersive.

  2. I agree with you on the cover, and this does sound like a worthwhile read. Great review!