Book Reviews

Bee Miles by Rose Ellis

Rose Ellis offers readers the fascinating glimpse into Australia’s most fearless woman, Bee Miles, for the first time within this outstanding biography.

Raised into a wealthy family, Bee was known to attend Sydney’s literary and artistic circles during the 1920s and 1930s, before she took up residence on the streets. Although she was mostly known to the public for her spectacular acts of defiance, she lived a hard life dealing with repeated incarcerations, confined to mental hospitals, and treated brutally from authority figures, including her own father.

Regardless of all this negativity in her life, “Bee, on the other hand, who was unafraid to face the facts… knew life was meaningless but still obtained great pleasure from being alive, by living the way she chose.” This was manifested in hopping on/off moving vehicles, swimming with a knife, hitchhiking all over Australia, and creating a nuisance on the streets for bystanders, taxi drivers and police personnel. Although her life was challenging, she always managed to hold her head high and carry on being herself until the very end.

However, after reading this colourful tale of Bee Miles, you are left thinking that she sadly wouldn’t be able to live as fearlessly as she did in today’s world.

Nonetheless, Ellis manages to deliver a well-constructed retelling of Bee’s life, drawing inspiration from Bee’s personal manuscripts, bittersweet testimonies from those who encountered her, local news and legal reports, and other reliable sources. This creates a narrative that flows and places the reader in the perfect mindset of events in Australia both pre- and post-WW2. Especially regarding the populations’ views between femininity and mental illness, and Bee’s endless agenda to change it through her articulate and powerful actions both in words and physical reactions.

This biography also comes with amazing black and white photographs of Bee’s family, transportation from that era, news articles with Bee in the headlines, and Bee herself throughout her life. This adds a nice personal touch to the heaviness of the topics within these pages.

Highly recommended for those that love Australian history, a taste for adventure and drama, and those that love to see people with revolutionary ideas ahead of their time.

Reviewed by Diane Stewart
Library Assistant

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Bee Miles by Rose Ellis

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