Wednesday 10 April 2019

✪ A Spanner In The Works ✪ Loretta Smith ✪

This is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls meets Australia's Sweetheart meets Amelia Earhart. It's the real-life story of a daring Australian woman who did something extraordinary - then met an early, mysterious end.

From the end of the Great War and into the 1920s, Alice Anderson was considered nothing less than a national treasure. She was a woman of 'rare achievement' who excelled as a motoring entrepreneur and inventor. Young, petite, boyish and full of charm, Alice was the only woman in Australia to successfully pull off an almost impossible feat: without family or husband to back her financially, she built a garage to her own specifications and established the country's only motor service run entirely by women.

Alice was also an adventurer, and her most famous road trip occurred in 1926 in a Baby Austin she had purchased exclusively to prove that the smallest car off a production line could successfully make the 1500-mile-plus journey on and off road from Melbourne to Alice Springs, central Australia.

However, less than a week after her return, Alice was fatally shot in the head at the rear of her own garage. She was only twenty-nine years old. Every newspaper in the country mourned her sudden loss. A coronial inquest concluded that Alice's death was accidental but testimonies at the inquest were full of inconsistencies.

Copy received from Hachette Australia for an honest review

I am ashamed to say that before this book, I had never heard of Alice Anderson, her all-ladies garage or her adventures.

What a wonderful, adventurous life did Alice Anderson lead.  She is the kind of woman that I would love to have been friends with.

Smart, professional, and oh so ambitious - I feel like I have done nothing in my life compared to what Alice did in her short life.

And to do it all with none of the technology we have today makes her feats even more amazing.

Ms Smith has written Alice's story in a way that makes you feel like you are one of Alice's "garage girls", that you are living in the 1920s and are drawn into all the escapades.

I really enjoyed learning about Alice, and feel that her story needs to be out there again.


Loretta Smith has worn many hats over the years: secondary school teacher, adult teacher/trainer, youth arts worker, research consultant, case manager and team leader in disability, mental health and aged care. She holds a Bachelor of Education (Creative Arts),  Graduate Certificate in Education, Cert IV in Training and Assessment and Cert IV in Frontline Management. She first read of Alice Anderson in The Unusual Life of Edna Walling (Allen and Unwin 2005). Then one of her aged clients, who had Alzheimer's, dropped a bombshell when she mentioned her mother worked as a driver and mechani for Alice Anderson. So began her amazing journey researching, studying, writing and promoting Alice Anderson's exceptional legacy.