Tuesday, June 1, 2010


"Wise, funny, thoughtful and deep, The Weight of Silence speaks to all of us. Anyone who ever wondered Who am I really? Do I fit in here or anywhere? will find wisdom and humor in this beautifully-written memoir. Catherine Therese is a writer of great depth and insight, and The Weight of Silence is not to be missed!"
Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of DIE FOR YOU

Of the many things I love about Catherine Therese’s THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE, foremost is the pitch perfect voice of the memoir and the author’s ability to punch through to the core of childhood experience and deliver a narrative that resounds with a kind of visceral wisdom that’s by turns poetic, darkly funny, and frightening.Robin Hemley, Director, Nonfiction Writing Program, The University of Iowa


  1. Hi Catherine,

    I grew up in Blacktown, 5 years older than you and just finished reading your book and wanted to thank you for publishing it.

    It really took me back to my childhood, hearing you mention streets I travelled many times on, westpoint and how people hung out around the rails on thursday night, St Pats church where I remember going to church on Sundays and housie/bingo with my mum on sat night.

    You captured to essence of the time we grew up in in the western suburbs.

    Look forward to part 2???
    kind regards

  2. You're welcome Jules, thanks sincerely for the feedback. I'm living part 4, writing part 2. warmest wishes
    x Ct

  3. Yousure did capture the essence of adult alcholics in Blacktown, they thought that was how they where supposed to live thier lives...
    My story is in reverse, a mother drunk, and a father drunk after mother drunk, drank her herself to death when I was eight..
    I was left outside the Robin Hood with a little baby brother to all hours of the cold nights.
    And the East Balcktown and all th pubs on the riverstone line , I have written my memoir and it so nice to know that one other person saw it like I did... I had Brothers to share it all with.. Thnakyou CML

  4. I read The Weight of Silence in December 2009 at Varuna (recommended by Peter Bishop) and have since been raving to everyone I know about it. I'm going to recommend it to a book club I know and buy more copies myself to give to friends. Best book (fiction or non-fiction) I've read in years. Hilariously funny and poignant by turns, but just so beautifully written. I thought there was some James Joyce in there - no kidding. Congratulations. I do hope your publisher is putting it up for lots of awards. It's heaps better than some other Aussie prize-winners (Won't mention who) that I've read lately.

    Fran Macdonald

  5. Hi Fran, I cant tell you how much that means! Thank you so so much for reading me and taking the time to share your thoughts. It's been a long winding road towards publication, since and still ... so to know that i have reached from my silence to yours is deeply gratifying; and that we met by way of Varuna, where so much of the book was contemplated is such beautiful symmetry. I'm a maids room girl! The chpt Dr Wong, which took a year to write was mostly birthed in the garden studio, day and night naked, shivering, remembering. When i finished i looked down into my lap and on the back of the patchwork quilt i was wrapped in was sewn the label " Prelude to christopher' which still haunts me. I look forward to reading you, please stay in touch. I'm hoping to be back at Varuna after my trip to Iowa University in November to share all sorts of bibs and bobs of the journey thus far. Much love xx Ct

  6. Hi Cath, read your book after it was recommended to me by "Paul Flynn" who I still see regularly. What a great read. Really bought back some fond memories. Hope you are keeping well.

  7. thanks peter. remember our parra vs saints tussles? hugs xx cath

    1. I certainly do Cath, Those Sunday arvos in the old grandstand at Cumberland oval were great times.

  8. Hi cath,

    I have just ordered you book and look forward to reading it.You were always exceptionally talented and I am thrilled to see that you have gone into print.Have many fond memories.
    Janine B

  9. Is that you beautiful Janine Barnes ??? Hells bells, how often and fondly i've thought of you over the years. Sending huge hugs xox

  10. Janine, you can probably see it's been over a year since i've been on this site, just too too busy writing, teaching and mothering (probably in the reverse order) so it was a beautiful suprise to find you here. I'd love to catch up on all your news xox


Reviews for The Weight of Silence

  • AUSTRALIAN BOOKSELLER & PUBLISHER MAGAZINE ..."This is a special memoir. It is written with great feeling, imagination, humour and originality, and shows a writer with a distinct view of the world within and around her."
  • AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S WEEKLY ....Recommended read ... " A moving and funny childhood memoir ....timeless."
  • BETTER READ THAN DEAD --- Bookshop... " Catherine Therese puts her childhood memories on display in this raw, moving and at times hilarious account of her younger life. This book is well written and unique, and touches on issues that are easily identifiable with us all. The natural curiosity of a growing girl never makes for a dull story and if at times you need a breather from the back streets of Blacktown, just close the pages and stare at the front cover! What an image. I loved this biography."
  • BIG W ENTERTAINMENT... 5 STARS ..." Stunning, heartbreaking, book, that deserves multiple readings. I have never read such a revealing portrayal of childhood. Therese uses the language we think in not speak and as such this gem of a book is an utter revelation. It is beautifully , hauntingly written. As soon as I finished it I started again. Genius."
  • CANBERRA TIMES...Emily Maguire '...Its a hearfelt, funny and deeeply moving memoir about flawed families, unconditional love and growing up too fast but turning out okay anyway.'
  • CHRIS BURGESS ---- Leading Edge --- " The Weight of Silence is without doubt one of the most exciting and exceptional Australian debuts of recent years. Describing it as a ‘memoir’ hardly does justice to the imagination, verve and freedom expressed in this strikingly original work. At a surface level it is the story of Catherine Therese’s childhood and early teens growing up with her rather unusual family in the western suburbs of Sydney. At a deeper level it takes the reader deep within the experience of a difficult family life in a way that is challenging, funny, heartbreaking and ultimately inspiring. This is ‘stream of consciousness’ writing without literary pretension. Raw, honest and incredibly imaginative, I loved it. "
  • DI MORRISSEY... Author..." This book is SO moving...just beautiful.
  • FRANKIE MAGAZINE..." Guys like David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs have given the term ‘memoir’ a swift kick up the arse and now we can add Catherine Therese to the list."
  • GOOD READING MAGAZINE...' 5 STARS Outstanding. Catherine Therese's first book is one of the most compelling childhood memoirs I have ever read . Often it seems as if she is just throwing down whatever thoughts are inside her head down on paper. This unique writing style using prose and poetic verse reminds me a little of Augesten Burroughs. It's an unforgettable book that will remind you of many childhood stories that have never been told.
  • MADISON MAGAZINE..." This memoir is a bouquet of dark humour laced with heartbreak and the kind of suburban detail to which we can all relate. Therese has crafted a coming of age reminiscence populated by wonderful characters and suffused with unblinking honesty... A highly worthwhile read from a sharp new Australian voice. "
  • MANLY DAILY ..." This is a brave memoir that successfully engages the voice of Therese as a child and teenage narrator.It is a beautifully written chameleon of a book dotted with pint sized poems that sometimes befuddle, sometimes dazzle.It will perform its way into your heart and mind, then quietly turn itself inside out and reveal its secrets before rushing headlong into the final pages that will leave you holding your breath. A courageous debut.
  • NICK TATE ---- Actor --- " Catherine Therese has written a stunning autobiography, an extraordinary book. She truly is a one off, a delightful, funny, quirky painfully honest young woman; this is one very brave, courageous, talented writer, one we are going to hear a great deal more from. I have no doubt that this book will take Australia by storm. "
  • PETER BISHOP --- Creative Director Varuna ---- " This is a book of deep, sacred dignity and the highest literary skill and imagination. The story comes to life through acute observation and detail and a unique voice and beautiful writing; an impressionistic style, a quivering, shimmering presence; a vitalitythat gives one a sense that there may be another way of living, of looking at the world. "
  • READINGS--- Melbourne --- " Catherine Therese’s family all describe her as ‘unusual’ (pronounced ‘un-you-sual’). In this unique memoir, she tells us of her pride in having an outie belly button, being greedy for choosing the names of two saints and seeing her first doodle courtesy of the naughty grandson next door. Despite being laugh-out-loud funny, the underlying theme is much more serious. The irony of her father’s alcoholism and verbal abuse, with her mother and sisters never daring to mention his appalling behaviour due to the fear of embarrassing him, is at turns painfully funny and incredibly sad. First kisses, shallow school friendships and a dodgy boyfriend occupy her teen years as the family silences grow and the deceptions increase. The birth of her son is relentlessly depicted via the madness of free verse, highlighting the horrors of contractions and impending parenthood. Therese generously allows us a glimpse into her tortured but uniquely creative soul and her eventual redemption."
  • SALVATION ARMY WARCRY MAGAZINE...." 4 1/2 STARS Excellent and highly amusing memoir of life in Oz in the ’60s and ’70s. A coming of age saga that will give you equal cause to laugh and cry. Creatively written.'
  • VOGUE MAGAZINE ..." A bittersweet remembrance of things past and dark suburban secrets."