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A friend recently introduced me to author Essie Fox and I’m so glad she did. The first of Fox’s books that I have since read, is The Goddess And The Thief and I am so looking forward to reading another of her books The Somnambulist.

The Goddess And The Thief  is set in the time of Queen Victoria, when Great Britain was in the throes of plundering India and exiling the Maharajah (Great Ruler) with the inestimable assistance of the Honourable East India Company, during the early days of the British Empire. This very fine example of a well researched historical novel is my favourite genre; a way of learning about world history via a great story.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Essie Fox was herself a Hindu goddess …every line she has written in this book, is evocative of wonderful, sumptuous India, juxtaposed with the corset-laced Victorian age;  an era fixated with death, opium and all things exotic.

Readers will be able to instantly identify with the motherless heroine, Alice, who after her father had died, moved permanently back to Windsor, England. Hindu mysticism along with childhood memories of India travel over the seas with her; apparent reincarnations and a sculptured goddess whose eyes appear to follow her every move in her father’s house, confuse Alice.  And her Aunt Mercy, who at best is ambivalent towards Alice, is obsessed with the mysterious and intense Lucian Tilsbury.  When the troubled Alice reaches her teens, she finds herself reluctantly attracted to him, also a little afraid of the intense, sexual affect he has on her, no matter how much she fights it.  What are Tilsbury’s true intentions? Why are her aunt and Tilsbury so intent on stealing the Koh-i-Noor diamond from Queen Victoria and returning it to India where he believes it rightfully belongs and which Britain had claimed as its own at the end of the Anglo-Sikh wars? There is also mystery surrounding Mini, her ayah, whom Alice adored. Her heart broke when she had to leave her behind in India, and she yearns to return to be re-united with her beloved Mini, whose parting gift was a bangle made of glass beads and sacred brown rudraksha seeds, given with her last words:

Always wear this my dearest, it shall be a token of our love. And every time you touch a bead you shall know that Mini thinks of thee, and that Mini shall be praying still for her beloved’s safe return.

Aunt Mercy, a spiritualist medium, wants Alice to be her assistant during séances held for broken-hearted women, including Queen Victoria, who has a compulsive yearning to re-connect with her beloved Prince Albert who has recently died so young. Although Alice agrees to aid her aunt during séances initially, she finds the experience unnerving and unethical, and the relationship between Alice and her demanding aunt deteriorates rapidly. Mystery and suspense evocative of India fill every page of this book, and Fox’s superb writing sucks the reader into the sensuous depths of this beguiling story. I especially loved Fox’s use in the book of asides with such titles as The Letter Never Sent and The Prayer Never Answered to unobtrusively give the reader some insight into the past.

Eventually Alice begins to experience bizarre ‘dreams’ in Mercy’s house and later in Tilsbury’s,  where he eventually confines her in a strange bedroom under what she believes is some sort of spell,  although the stupor that envelops her renders her unable to think clearly.  Added to that, ghosts appear in odd places, seemingly to warn Alice of danger. Statues of the goddess Parvati and her consort Shiva sometimes seem to move; are they just figments of her vivid imagination, reincarnations if you will, of the stories Mini used to tell her?

There is no-one apart from Mrs Morrison, Aunt Mercy’s cook, who Alice feels she can trust. But then, how can she find the words to explain the mysterious and devastating effect that Lucian Tilsbury has over her body and soul?


Anne Frandi-Coory – 25 September 2018


The Somnambulist by Essie Fox…read my review here: 

Publisher’s Forward:  Anne Frandi-Coory’s poetry, short stories and paintings, embody the emotional pain of abandoned, abused children, along with the guilt and helplessness felt by mothers struggling within a hostile environment with little or no support. Her childhood years spent in Catholic institutions has allowed Anne a heartfelt and very personal insight into the harm the Catholic Church has inflicted, and can still inflict, on children without the protection of a loving family. This talented writer, artist also manages to capture the vibrancy of the Natural World, and the fantastical imagination of children and their world.


Hi Anne,
I received the books with much love and gratitude: Let me firstly say, congratulations to you and your wonderful works of art! You’re a very talented lady, artistic, intelligent and inspirational! To be honest l read the book within two days and I loved it, especially the poem ‘Photograph‘ and the short story of ‘Raffaela’s Last Dream‘.  My favourite art composition in the book is your painting next to ‘Sands of Fate‘, the eyes, (your eyes l’m sure), the colours, and the symbols in this work are magic. No detail is lost on me.
Oh and Just so you know l have studied the early Gnostic writings of the divine feminine and its subsequent obfuscations and covering up by the Catholic Church in the name of their men-centric control religion. (John Lash Lamb and his work of ‘Not in his Image‘). So I resonate with you in many many ways. So please allow me to thank you for the kind present to read your book and the wonderful genealogy work you’ve done to bring to life our family’s legacy. 
-Dean Marshel-Courté
Dean Marshel-Courte

Dean Marshel-Courté


True life and make-believe

I love this colourful little book Dragons, Deserts and Dreams  containing poems and short stories, written and illustrated by Anne Frandi-Coory.

She has cleverly woven her poems into evocative, self-contained vignettes and portraits; brief episodes that are obviously dear to her heart.  The short, true life stories, in beautiful prose, convey a passion and a vividness that make you feel as though you were right there when the events were actually happening. Readers will meet Ms Frandi-Coory’s paternal Lebanese grandparents  in the hills of Lebanon and later in the story, join them on their sea voyage to Melbourne then on to New Zealand in ‘Immigration And The Promise’. On the other hand, the life of Ms Frandi-Coory’s maternal Italian great grandmother is very different. ‘Raffaela’s Last Dream’ is more of a drawn out nightmare which begins in Rome when Raffaela is 13 years old.  In this short story, Raffaela is on her death bed surrounded by family, and as her long life flashes before her; readers  are there to accompany her every step of the way.

The author also enters into a world of make-believe, giving readers a glimpse of her affinity with children and animals in her poems about childish imagination, the antics of animals and the value of  Nature here on earth.

This is a book to treasure.

-Zita Barna …  GOODREADS, AMAZON  Book Reviews  2017


Unique, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching is how I describe Ms. Frandi-Coory’s latest book, Dragons, Deserts and Dreams. It is a collection of poems, short stories and endearing artwork. The author has compiled extraordinary creative prose and artwork that compliment and evoke an emotional response.

I am not a big poetry reader and have only recently begun to appreciate the nuances and beauty in poems, and after reading Ms. Frandi-Coory’s poems, I applaud her for the imagery that is evident in her works.

Some are tributes to those who were wronged or abused, other poems were reminiscences, and then there were the personal and painful expressions of a life experienced none too pleasantly by those who inflicted physical and psychological trauma.

The personal short stories, is how I perceive them, especially having read the author’s first book, Whatever happened to Ishtar? A passionate quest to find answers for generations of defeated mothers, a memoir come family history. The stories are windows into the back-story of her family’s plight, especially the women. It also gives insight into the person who wrote this book.

As for the artwork, they complement the poems and short stories, and demonstrate the remarkable creativity and gift of the creator of this book.

I did not know what to expect when I started reading this book, the mix of poetry, artwork and short stories is an unusual blend, however it works really well. This book will make you smile, angry, and saddened. This is an amazing endeavour undertaken by the author, and a fabulous book that I highly recommend to readers who appreciate and enjoy something a little different.

-GOODREADS, AMAZON book reviews…Luciana Cavallaro, Perth. 7 March 2017

serpent 3

Luciana Cavallaro, Perth


When I read Anne Frandi-Coory’s first book  Whatever Happened to Ishtar? I was so moved by her courage in divulging to the world, secrets of the traumatic life which she had so bravely struggled through since being abandoned by her mother, and institutionalized at such a young age at the Mercy Orphanage for the Poor at South Dunedin. Anne tells her story with such passion that you will want to read it again and again. But wait there is more.
Anne has now built a successful life in accomplishing all that she does, she is a Poet,Painter,Author, Book Reviewer and Genealogist and has recently published Dragons,Deserts, and Dreams. This book covers poems, short stories and Artworks and is so cleverly put together. Anne weaves her poems around her life and family,all beautifully written. I love them all but there are two of her poems I especially like:
No Summer Will They See- Not Daniel, Zahra or Caylee
and Ode to Cleopatra
– Rita Roberts, Crete. 21 February 2017
Rita Roberts 2

Rita Roberts, Crete


Wow! That ‘Raffaela’s Last Dream’ in Dragons, Deserts and Dreams,   is just so, so beautiful, and I love it. But then again I love everything you do, my darling Anne. You have put me by her bedside. You have me holding and squeezing her hand as I read and hear her, drifting through the pages of her life, with all the love and emotion of a woman who knows she will soon be flying through heaven, alongside the author of all things in the universe.
For beautiful Raffaela has already experienced hell on earth. And I, the reader was there when it was all happening, so cleverly condensed in, ‘the present tense’. You’re such a great writer Anne, you always have the ability to stir up my emotions.
After I finished reading, in the dark now, I closed my eyes and wept and sobbed out loud, as I often do, when I awake from such dreams. Dreams I have of my grandmother, the one person who never stopped loving me.
Dreams, nowadays in my secret place I call ‘La La land’. A place I find myself a lot lately as my body too, is almost worn out. A place where I’m not really asleep, but then again I’m not altogether awake. All I have to do is remain quiet, usually in the afternoon, close my eyes as I rest alone on my sofa, and I’m there, in my beautiful ‘La La Land’, where anything can happen.
Thank you so very much for introducing me to your wonderful, courageous and most lovely, ‘Raffaela’ Anne, I am so grateful to find her at last. She, like you will remain forever with me, as I know I will never forget you both.

-Arabella Marx, @thatmarxtart Australia 2017

Marx Tart












More reviews here:

Also here on Anne Frandi-Coory’s Facebook page:



A new Hero is in Town!

Serpent 1

This is another epic, spell binding story I could not put down! One of my favourite authors, Luciana Cavallaro writes in a way that places you smack in the middle of whatever is happening in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, or in Perth, Western Australia!  There is nothing about Ancient Greek gods Luciana hasn’t researched and studied, and when Zeus appears before Evan Chronis to give him an urgent Herculean task, you are there to witness it! – Anne Frandi-Coory

Also on Anne Frandi-Coory’s facebook page

The Search for the Golden Serpent is on……… 

Read on *************************

Meet Evan Chronis, a talented architect from Perth, Australia with a chronic sleeping problem. His dreams are so vivid they feel real. Did he actually go for a swim while he slept? They begin to affect his work and health.  He seeks medical help to find out what’s happening to him.

In Search for the Golden Serpent (eBook published March 27) Evan meets Zeus, the King of the Gods. Zeus tells him in order to get back home he must journey through forgotten worlds, lost in antiquity.


Here’s more:

serpent 2It’s not where he appears, it’s when.

What if you’re born during another time, grew up in the 21st century and then were thrust back into the past? Confused? So is architect, Evan Chronis.

Evan, drawn by screams, ventures out to his backyard and sees blood trickling down the limestone stairs. He steps off the veranda and finds himself in the days of great and marvellous power, a time when the gods ruled the universe.

To return to the 21st century life he longs for, he must risk his life in search of powerful, treasured relics older than the Holy Grail. But what he finds might be more than he expected.

Will Evan find the relics and return home or will he remain forever stuck in a world so different from his own?

Order your copy from:



Historical fiction fantasist Luciana Cavallaro, and a secondary teacher, meanders from contemporary life to the realms of mythology. Luciana has always been interested in Mythology and Ancient History but her passion wasn’t realised until seeing the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. From then on, her inspiration to write Historical Fantasy was borne.

She is the author of 5 ebooks and 1 paperback and has spent many lessons promoting literature and the merits of ancient history. Subscribe to her free short story at

You can connect with Luciana Cavallaro via:

serpent 3Website








MORE REVIEWS of books written by Luciana Cavallaro:

BOOK REVIEW by Anne Frandi-Coory


The Crusades

A Brief History of The Crusades; Islam And Christianity In The Struggle For World Supremacy  

by Geoffrey Hindley


“A history of the Christian war for faith and its bitter legacy”.

Were historical religious wars in reality an extension and prolongation of tribal hatreds?  Eventually the rise of the two major religions of Islam and Christianity would convert millions into faithful followers.  Each side would massacre hundreds of thousands of ‘infidels’ in the name of their respective one true god.

Anyone who has any doubts whatsoever that either Islam or Christianity was founded on peace and respect for human life, should read this book. Arabs initiated the Jihad wars of the 7th and 8th Centuries which conquered the Christian lands from Syria to Egypt, and the North African coast from the Christian Roman Empire and the Christian Kingdoms of Spain, also the aggressive conquest of the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire.  In the Middle Ages, the Christians initiated four barbaric crusades to fight not only Islam’s followers but also other Christian groups committing heresy.  Let’s not forget that both Christians and Muslims massacred their own followers for what seems to me, the most trivial of doctrinal differences.

Once Christianity became the state religion of the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, the Roman Catholic religion and politics were inextricably intertwined.  Pagans were massacred mercilessly if they didn’t convert to Christianity. It was no different for those who followed Allah. It wasn’t until the Arabs united under their own prophet in the 7th Century, did they have the power to take on the Christian infidels. Before the Arabs rampaged out of the deserts of Arabia, they had languished as disregarded and disunited pagan Arab tribes. In the words of an Arab envoy to the Shah of Persia: “Once the Arabs were a wretched race, whom you could tread underfoot at will….Now for our glory, Allah has raised up a prophet among us.”

Hindley’s book is well written, full of historical fact, and takes readers to wherever Christianity spread its tentacles: Russia, Europe, Middle East, Turkey,  Arabia, and North Africa. Kings, (particularly French) Bishops and Popes were on the forefront of the fight against infidels, and the terrible crime of heresy. During the four crusades and the Inquisition, torture was widespread and horrific. For instance, alarm bells were ringing in Rome that large numbers of heretic communities existed in the south of France, Provence and Aquitaine. In the town of Béziers alone in 1209 the entire population of 15,000 people were massacred in what was actually a frenzy of ethnic cleansing; probably no more than 700 were active Cathars.

The Maronites of Lebanon are another yet contradictory case in point. They are Christian followers of 3rd Century St Maron (St Maroun in Aramaic) who eventually came under the protection of the Roman Catholic Church around the 16th Century. However, the Roman Catholic Church had known about the small pockets of these early Christians hiding from the Muslim onslaught in the mountains of Lebanon, and in Antioch in modern Turkey, but didn’t consider them a threat. The Church expected that they would eventually be killed or die out from hunger and disease. When the Crusaders discovered them centuries later stubbornly hiding in the mountains, in caves and very poor, they were offered protection. The odd thing is that Rome allowed the Maronites to uphold certain doctrinal differences; priests could marry and Maronites held that Christ had a dual and divine human nature governed by a single divine will. Still, they had the full support and financial backing of Rome. This was even though Rome considered other Eastern Orthodox Christians’ doctrinal differences as ‘schismatic’ and a blatant insult to the supreme power of Rome and the Universal Church. But not evidently, heretical?

Excerpt concerning the end of the long and brutal campaign of the first crusade culminating in crusaders running amok in Jerusalem:

The assault was scheduled to start after dark on 13 July [1099] with two simultaneous attacks each led by one of the siege towers…It was the tower commanded by Godfrey of Bouillon on the northern sector that, on the morning of 15 July, established the first foothold. Seeing the enemy secure a bridgehead on the ramparts, the defenders in this sector streamed back to the temple area to rally for a last stand around the al-Aqsa Mosque, but they surrendered to Tancred and flew his banner over the mosque promising to pay a large ransom in the negotiations that should follow the capture. Meantime blood crazed crusaders were streaming over the walls and through the streets of the northern part of the city slaughtering every living thing that crossed their path. No banner was going to save lives in this shambles, while the Jewish population of the city were cut down – man, woman, and child – where they stood hoping for sanctuary in their chief synagogue. They can have had little hope. Months before, news of the pogroms in the Rhineland had reached the city and most of its Jewish community had sided with its Muslim defenders, fearful of their fate should the place fall to the Christians. Now that fate was upon them. …It is doubtful whether any other of the inhabitants of Jerusalem on that dreadful day survived. …The slaughter lasted the best part of two days.  When it was over, the crusade leaders went in solemn procession to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre  to give thanks to God… [my emphasis]

There was surely much to give thanks for. More than once over the years it had seemed that the army had survived only thanks to divine intervention. Even so some blenched at the butchery that had sealed their victory. …When reports did reach the West many churchmen expressed horrified dismay. Accounts of the shocking events reverberated through Muslim Syria.


-Copyright to Anne Frandi-Coory and All rights Reserved  16 January 2015

Also Here on Anne Frandi-Coory’s Facebook Page:








Eleven *****  Book Reviews for  …

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? – A Passionate Quest To Find Answers For Generations of Defeated Mothers

 ishtar-front-coverishtar rear cover




Bella Albert

This is an old photo of my precious Bellaboo, holding our copy of a book written by my great aunty, Anne Frandi-Coory, about our italian family;
-I’m honoured to hear from my psychologist and good friend Brett, who has told me he purchased a copy and had received it and is currently reading it; it really warms my heart to know this.
P.S aunty Anne -Brett says you write really well and is very impressed xx Michael Albert. – 2019


Michael Albert

Michael Albert, Bella’s father

Thank you, Michael …that is good to hear. Your psychologist will understand you better after reading my book, ‘Whatever happened To Ishtar?’ The ripples in the generational pond have spread far and wide…❤️💜🧡 I hope to meet you and Bella one day; such a beautiful girl.


This review originally posted here on AMAZON BOOKS 28 March 2017

New Zealand’s Elena Ferrante?…

I don’t write many book reviews, I don’t usually have the time,  but I felt compelled to write this one. I’ve read both of Anne Frandi-Coory’s books; her memoir Whatever Happened To Ishtar? (2010) and her latest publication Dragons, Deserts and Dreams (2016) and it seems to me both are the kinds of books that you keep in order to read again and again. I also follow her book reviews on Facebook closely because she reads the genres I enjoy and she writes great, honest  book reviews.

The honesty with which Anne Frandi-Coory has written her memoir makes me think of her as New Zealand’s Elena Ferrante. The author is a virtual recluse who writes about her childhood living in Catholic institutions and whose existence is violently shaken up periodically when she is taken by her father into his Lebanese immigrant family’s household not far from the institutions she has lived in for most of her formative years. There she endures what she calls the hypocrisy and brutality the women of the household direct toward her and her absent Italian mother who has long since been banished from the home of her in-laws.  The reasons are complex and include the sexual harassment of the author’s mother, an innocent ex Catholic nun. Frandi-Coory’s story is set in a slightly later era than Ferrante’s and dolls eerily feature in her childhood as well. I felt the need to check Frandi-Coory’s book reviews to ascertain whether she had been influenced at all by the Italian author in any way.  Yes, she had reviewed the Neapolitan Quartet Novels by Ferrante, but she had only read and reviewed those books in 2016 six years after she wrote her memoir.  I am amazed at the similarities in writing style as well as in the content and minutiae of the lives of mothers and daughters, even allowing for the authors living on opposite ends of the world. I suppose at the end of the day, women’s lot is universal.

Frandi-Coory embarks on years of research into the lives of her mother and Italian extended family which she was never permitted to have contact with even though the Coory family didn’t want her living with them after her father’s marriage to her mother broke down when she was an infant. She finds that many women in both the Lebanese and Italian extended families lived in patriarchal cultures reinforced by devotion to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. Too many children, brutal husbands and a blind faith in a god who never seemed to answer any of their prayers.

I wonder if these families had not left their home countries to settle in such a raw and young country as New Zealand would their lives ever have come under such scrutiny?  As another reviewer of Frandi-Coory’s memoir stated, this is a mammoth book and well worth reading. I also recommend the author’s latest book which, although it contains short stories and poems as well as some of her artworks, cleverly connects the reader to many of the topics she writes about in her memoir.

-Zita Barna, Australia.  28 March 2017


Hi Anne, I expect you are thinking what on earth I am on about when I said I would e mail you.

Rita Roberts 2

Rita Roberts-Archaeologist

Well, I watched a film called  ‘Not Without My Daughter’.  For some reason it made me think about your book  ‘Whatever Happened to Ishtar?’  documenting your traumatic childhood and I had to begin reading it again, because this film helped me understand my confusion with regard to your extended family. I honestly don’t know how you coped with all that hassle You were so brave and I admire you tremendously. I am also so pleased you have Paul and your lovely children making your life now happy. If you haven’t already seen this film you can see it on U tube, and it is a true story. Take care, Rita Roberts (Crete)



*Anne Frandi-Coory’s reply to Rita Roberts  30 November 2016:

Dear Rita

I finally located a copy of the dvd ‘Not Without My Daughter’ (1990) starring Sally Field. Thank you for recommending it to me. I can see why the Iranian family in the movie reminded you of my immigrant Lebanese family that I wrote about in my memoir ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ and why it gave you a better insight into what my childhood, and my mother’s life,  must have been like.

The movie brought so much of my childhood flooding back to me. First of all, the women wearing black burqas evoked images of the nuns in the Catholic Mercy orphanage where I spent my infancy and early childhood. I always get a strong visceral reaction whenever I see women dressed like this, or nuns in black habits, and not because the Mercy nuns were especially cruel; in fact the sister who ran the orphanage nursery was very kind to me. But because I was traumatised by being abandoned at the nursery by my mother, I always feel the same distress all these years later.

The hateful looks directed at the American mother, by the Iranian women in the movie also reminded me of my aunts. My paternal Lebanese family, (grandparents and their 11 children),  all lived, and later,  often visited,  in the same three storey house, so that whenever my father took me to visit his family, I not only had one or two adults abusing or yelling and screaming at me, there were several, all at once. My father rarely intervened, and he was born in that Dunedin house, living there most of his life along with his brother and unmarried sister.  A couple of times I sat on my father’s knee when I was a little girl, and the look my aunts gave me frightened me so much, I never hugged him, or sat on my his knee ever again! They didn’t like me or my Italian mother, and I can only imagine what it was like for her, living with them all. Of course, you will remember that my mother’s severe bipolar disorder took hold while she lived with her in-laws, after she married my father. The family screamed abuse at me often, and reminded me every other day that my mother was a ‘sharmuta’ (prostitute) because she had an illegitimate son, and her Italian culture was also demonised. The family’s racism was something I remember vividly.

My aunts often attacked me in the streets of Dunedin if they thought my clothing was in any way ‘revealing’; once when I was a teenager, two of my aunts attacked me because I was wearing a dress with a skirt that fell below my knees, had a high neckline, but the long sleeves were made of a see-through flimsy fabric. They were so enraged they almost ripped the sleeves off my arms. In the end, I was afraid to walk down the street in case I met them and all I could think of was moving to another New Zealand city to escape them, which I eventually did.

While my father’s family weren’t Muslim like the family in the movie, they brought their very strict Catholic Maronite religion and culture with them. They went to church every Sunday and often during the week. My grandmother, Eva Arida, had an altar in her bedroom dedicated to the Virgin Mary with a lighted candle 24/7. She prayed constantly from a little Aramaic prayer book and was habitually fingering rosary beads. My grandfather, Jacob Fahkrey, of devout priestly lineage, prayed aloud early every morning while walking around the rear yard of the family home. I can honestly say that it was the women of the family who were the most physically and verbally brutal.

I did a bit more research into the true story behind the movie and book Not Without My Daughter, and that was also very interesting. The little American girl who so loved her Iranian father when they lived in the USA, had such a traumatic experience living with her father’s family in Iran, that she refused to ever see him again after she and her mother barely managed to escape to the States. Her father eventually travelled to Finland, a neutral country, with a documentary team hoping to film a reunion with his adult daughter, but she declined.   


Another 5***** Book Review by Linnea Tanner…

Whatever Happened To Ishtar?  by Anne Frandi-Coory is a well-written and haunting memoir of a woman who finds herself by exploring her family’s heritage that contributed to her growing up without the love and nurture of a mother she most desperately wanted. What first attracted me to this book was the title, Whatever Happened To Ishtar?. She is the Ancient Sumerian Mother Goddess who celebrates love, fertility, and sexuality. This title haunted me as I read the memoir because Anne’s mother, like many woman of her generation and previous generations, was harshly judged for her sexuality and had limited options to treat her mental illness and to fulfill her potential. The first part of the memoir is Anne’s account of her childhood while the second part provides a historical account of her Lebanese (father’s side) and Italian heritage (mother’s side).

Anne was institutionalized at the Mercy Orphanage of the Poor at South Dunedin in her early childhood. At the time, her father could not adequately care for Anne after he divorced her mother for infidelity. At the age of eight, Anne was removed from the orphanage and introduced to the real world under the care of her father’s family. However, they shamed Anne and associated her with her mentally ill mother they considered a whore. This part of the memoir is gut-wrenching and haunting because Anne had to overcome loneliness and self-doubt to find her full potential after marrying, having four children, and finding her life partner after a divorce.

However, what is most fascinating is the rich heritage and ancestral genealogy of both her father and mother to understand what nineteenth century immigrants to Australia faced. With no access to birth control, women faced multiple pregnancies or secretly resorted to self-induced abortions with crude knitting needles. The historical accounts that Anne researched help explain why her father and her mother were compelled to make their choices. I recommend this memoir because the story will stay in your memory as it covers universal issues of female sexuality, women’s roles and options, mental illness, and society’s harsh judgment that has defeated mothers for generations.

-Linnea Tanner 25 April 2016

Linnea Tanner

Linnea Tanner

-More about Linnea Tanner here:


Book Review by FLAXROOTS  14 July 2015

Whatever Happened To Ishtar?  by author Anne Frandi-Coory


Anne Frandi-Coory –  7 years old

This book is a memoir of the life of Anne Frandi-Coory the daughter of an Italian mother and a Lebanese father.

Having spent a childhood, peppered with abuse and harassment, between a Dunedin orphanage for the poor and her father’s Lebanese family Anne was regarded as a backward child. She describes the panic she felt as a toddler as her father departed after one of his visits, and goes on to relate episodes from her strict upbringing in the orphanage where she was segregated from her two brothers once the boys turned five years old. Memory of the order of happenings in her early life is sketchy and this is aptly conveyed in her narrative.

She was not well received by her father’s family though she lived with her father at his family’s house intermittently, but never feeling at ease there and alleging various kinds of abuse.
Married in her teens Anne gave birth to four children and devoted herself to nurturing them during which time her marriage failed and she struggled to avoid a mental breakdown.

Later in life Anne devoted herself to researching the Lebanese history of her father’s family and the Italian forebears on her mother’s side, hoping to understand her relationship with her Italian mother who was shunned by Anne’s father’s family and who couldn’t look after her children except for very short periods.
The account of the arrival of the Frandi family as assisted immigrants to New Zealand in 1876, as opposed to those arriving in a self funding capacity, makes interesting reading.
The poems and quotations at the beginning of each chapter have obviously been chosen with care and sensitivity and give an added dimension to the book. The same can be said for the inclusion of family photographs mostly lent by other family members. There is a certain poignancy here as Anne had few, if any, family photos while she was growing up; thus emphasising what she refers to as ‘her paper-thin sense of identity’
There is a freshness about the author’s style and she succeeds in conveying emotion about the lack of emotion and caring shown to her in her formative years.

Having, as a child, lived in fear of dire consequences if she didn’t follow strict rules and try to emulate the saints she may have developed the discipline to achieve a good education which, no doubt, helped in her later endeavours to track her forebears and learn the history of their migration to New Zealand.
The bibliography includes useful references and illuminates the paths she travelled.

With regard to the publication the title is apt and the cover is eye-catching. The paper edition is perfect bound but the biggest drawback is the lack of an adequate gutter making the book difficult to hold open for any length of time. There are three very minor identical grammatical inconsistencies plus an odd discrepancy about two rivers.

The author is to be congratulated on her enterprise in producing a valuable resource for her family and an interesting and instructive read for the rest of us.

It seems Ishtar has risen from the ashes!


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – Book Review by Pauline Csuba published in issue no. 387 The Australian Writer March 2015

Anne Marie Coory 1958

Anne Frandi-Coory – 10 years old

Haunted by her mother’s restless spirit filtering through every thought and dream, this book was written not only for the appeasement of her mother but for her children and grandchildren.  Anne Frandi-Coory has embarked on a journey of genealogy taking on a rich history, research, and unpleasant memories.

Distressed at the hands of her Lebanese father’s extended family and The Mercy orphanage for the poor – this story of lost generations, abandonment, abuse and gross neglect by those who should have known better – is a story of a personal account and the connection with the Catholic Church and its institutions. Brutality, emotional deprivation and lack of nurturing all culminated in a dark side of two families unable to communicate with one another. With the history of these Lebanese and Italian families and how they settled in New Zealand, this makes for an interesting read.

It is a mammoth book and I felt by removing some areas of repetitions may have freed the flow of emotion that could allow the reader to connect much sooner with the powerful experience being shared. I congratulate Anne for taking on this traumatic journey of her past and the long process of research, writing and editing of her work. It is wonderful to see she now has a loving partner and family who have supported her in this passionate quest. I recommend this book to those who are or have embarked on a similar journey.

-Pauline Csuba


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – 5 star

When I started reading this book, I expected to finish it quite quick but in truth, it took time to digest the words and their significance. It is a journey, both biographical and autobiographical in approach. The author seeks to find her place not only in society but who she is. This is an extraordinary search which uncovers the history of her maternal and paternal lineage.

What is revealed is both heart-rending and powerful, a personal narrative. Ms. Frandi-Coory’s pursuit as to why her mother abandoned her while a baby is a difficult journey of self-discovery. How could a mother leave her children is the driving question behind the author’s plight. That, and trying to understand who she is and to identify with the family nexus and her place within it.

Her father, ill equipped mentally and economically to rear his daughter and son, placed them in an orphanage run by catholic nuns. It was not a pleasant time for either and the author gives vivid descriptions of her time incarcerated. Her father’s family weren’t the most pleasant people, abusive both verbally and physically. Why? Her mother was considered a harlot and mentally unstable, therefore she was of the same ilk. The cultural mix of Italian and Lebanese blood, the author is driven to learn more about both sides of the family and why they behaved in such a contrary manner.

I admire Ms. Frandi-Coory for writing this book. She revealed secrets most families would prefer to remain hidden to detriment of those who were and are victims. This is a brave expository, which shows the cycles of abuse can be stopped with determination and strength of character.

-Luciana Cavallaro 11 January 2015

serpent 3

Luciana Cavallaro

More About Luciana Cavallaro here:


Gerald Gentz

Gerald Gentz

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – AMAZON BOOK REVIEW by Gerald Gentz USA 30 December 2014

‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ is more than a book and more than a story. It is the telling of a remarkable journey of discovery of one person’s difficult life. Anne Frandi-Coory spent much of her life trying to find a place and the love of a family. Book ended between a caring but weak father and mentally ill mother unable to care for her financially or emotionally, Anne and her brother, Kevin, suffered childhoods that no child deserves to experience. In the end, even the scars would not prevent them from making stable and successful lives.

Anne’s long research into both the paternal and maternal sides of her family is remarkable for it’s depth and acceptance. In doing so, she exposed her demons and the dysfunctions of her maternal and paternal families. The result is a culmination of her difficult journey to understand herself. Her greatest victory is her coming to understand the love of her mother and the realization of her love for her mother. Anne’s was a journey of discovery and healing.

This can be a difficult book to read at times because of the emotions it elicits. It was particularly emotional for me because of my realization that Anne is actually my cousin that I was not aware I had, her mother being my mother’s older sister. Anne’s book gave me a deeper awareness of my maternal family, and thus my mother, than I had before. So Anne Frandi-Coory’s journey of discovery was also mine in 373 pages.

Gerald Gentz


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory – 5 star *****GOODREADS BOOK REVIEW by Susan Tarr

“WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? By Anne Frandi-Coory is a remarkable portrayal of New Zealand’s earlier Lebanese and Italian Catholic families. Although I was raised in the various vicinities this book covers, I had no idea there were established Lebanese families in New Zealand. And, for me, the whole Catholic religion was shrouded in mystique, so I had very little understanding of what was involved in being a part of the Catholic faith.

Set in New Zealand, the spartan buildings of the Catholic St Vincent’s orphanage mirrored in some part those of Seacliff Mental Asylum (Otago, NZ) in both outlook and care of those in their charge. Both would seem to have lacked a close affection for those who needed it most: the vulnerable and unloved.

This work is an amazing testimony for all mothers, a testimony we can probably all relate to. How many times do we feel inadequate, or feel we could have done better? We should never have such constraints placed on us as a mother to feel either of these. Whatever a mother is capable of at that time, for her child, is sufficient for that time.

As Frandi-Coory bears out, it is always possible to break mindsets, or break the mould, as it is said. I.e. the sins of the father… All it takes is an invincible will, which clearly she had and has.

Frandi-Coory recounts the histories of both her Lebanese and Italian families. She explains how the various mindsets occurred and how they were passed down through the generations.

I found I kept referring to the photographs as I formed opinions on the various players in this tapestry of life.

What is astonishing here, is that Anne Frandi-Coory and I never made a connection until after our respective books were published, in separate countries. It was through reading each others work that we realised our lives were very closely linked. In fact we may well have known each other through a mutual friend (Italian) during our college years in Dunedin, NZ. That is why I can vouch for the events, scenery, time frames and cultures in this amazing work.

It’s absolutely raw in its honesty.

Very well written, it’s a compelling read, from start to finish.

Kudos to Anne Frandi-Coory.

-Susan Tarr 14 October 2014

Susan Tarr

Susan Tarr

More about Susan Tarr here:


MOMO Photo ABC ‘Let’s Read’…

 I am a member of a photo group where we get a prompt for every day and have to take an appropriate picture. Because we had the alphabet one month, I decided to do a book theme. I always added either the link to my blog or to the books. I have decided to post a picture every week so my booky friends can enjoy them, as well.
A is for … Autobiography.  Two biographies by some very strong women:

Anne Frandi-Coory  Whatever Happened To Ishtar? 
Immaculée Ilibagiza  Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Momo 2014


‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ is

“An amazing journey – challenging, painful, and ultimately unforgettable”  – Tanith Jane McNabb, Owner of Tan’s Bookshop Marlborough NZ, 27 October 2014 on


ishtar-front-cover (200x299)

See here *MORE reviews for ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?‘ and where to buy this book



my story


Whatever your political leanings or agenda, you would have to concede that Julia Gillard was an accomplished Prime Minister of Australia. During the three years as Australia’s first female PM, in which she led a minority government, a record amount of legislation was passed.

Not only did she have to constantly negotiate with minor parties, she had to endure some of the worst public sexism ever directed at a female PM in any country, most of it instigated by the then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and the rest of his Liberal and National Coalition Party. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with,  Ms Gillard was vilified daily in the News Ltd Press, owned by ex-Australian, Rupert Murdoch, which was determined to see her government thrown out of office. Tony Abbott was Rupert Murdoch’s choice for Prime Minister, supported by the four Big Banks, and the huge Mining Corporations!  Once Tony Abbott moved into The Lodge, it was goodbye mining tax and carbon price! Don’t get me started on why his government can’t pass its ill-fated Budget, after more than one year in government!

So much has been written about Ms Gillard’s ‘deposing’ of her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, so I don’t want to go into the details here. However, it has now become clear that this man was a failed Prime Minister, who then made it his sole purpose in life for the three years Ms Gillard was in office, to undermine her every move.  If you are interested in how he went about the destruction of his own party, read The Stalking Of Julia Gillard: How The Media And Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister. It was written by Kerry-Anne Walsh, an astute parliamentary journalist. A very interesting look at behind the scenes revelations.




Julia Gillard is a 21st Century woman who made personal sacrifices in order to get to the top in politics. For her, a fairer system of funding for education in Australian public schools was a number one priority, with a more comprehensive disability insurance scheme a close second.  Time will tell how much of PM Gillard’s hard work on educational and disability reforms will be unraveled by this current government. The Carbon Price and Mining Taxes her government legislated for, were earmarked to pay for many of those reforms.

The Glass Ceiling  [dedicated to Julia Gillard]

By 2011, I was already a devoted fan of Julia Gillard’s. Not because she was a woman, but because she was by then, showing signs of becoming a great stateswoman. I presented Prime Minister Gillard with a copy of my book, ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?’ which had just been published. The reason I wanted her to have a copy, was to show that I agreed with her wholeheartedly that every child deserves to be given the chance of a good education, but even more especially, disadvantaged children.  My book is about the many generations of women in my family tree who never had the opportunity of a good education.  Marriage or the nunnery were their only choices.  I had a deprived and abusive childhood, but I did receive a good education which gave me so many more choices.

A few weeks after she received my book, the following letter arrived in my mail box:


Julia Gillard Letter



I was overjoyed, as I had never expected our Prime Minister to take time out of her enormous workload, to acknowledge my humble book. That was just one more of the many admirable attributes exhibited by this remarkable woman. In the last week or so I attended one of Ms Gillard’s book promotional talks which was attended by over 400 people. Afterwards, she autographed many, many copies of her book, ‘My Story’, including mine below:





This is a truly inspirational book by a woman who has reached the very top in Australian politics. It’s much more than a Prime Minister’s memoir of her time in office, though. It is also about her thoughts and feelings, and how she managed to keep her sense of self intact throughout those times of ruthless sexism and derogatory personal statements against her. As she herself stated during the talk she gave at the launching of My Story,  ‘politics can be bitter sweet, but my time as Prime Minister, was more sweet than bitter’. I thought she gave an impressive, spirited speech on the night I was present, and afterward answered many questions from the mixed gender audience. The whole enjoyable evening was interspersed with much clapping and laughter.

One thing I can assure readers of, is that Ms Gillard’s Story is much more riveting and enjoyable than any other political memoir I have ever read, and it is certainly never boring!


– Anne Frandi-Coory 13 October 2014


Susan Tarr



by Susan Tarr – Author, Editor and Proof Reader



“WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ISHTAR? by Anne Frandi-Coory is a remarkable portrayal of New Zealand’s earlier Lebanese and Italian Catholic families. Although I was raised in the various vicinities this book covers, I had no idea there were established Lebanese families in New Zealand. And, for me, the whole Catholic religion was shrouded in mystique, so I had very little understanding of what was involved in being a part of the Catholic faith.




Set in New Zealand, the spartan buildings of the Catholic St Vincent’s orphanage mirrored in some part those of Seacliff Mental Asylum (Otago, NZ) in both outlook and care of those in their charge. Both would seem to have lacked a close affection for those who needed it most: the vulnerable and unloved.

This work is an amazing testimony for all mothers, a testimony we can probably all relate to. How many times do we feel inadequate, or feel we could have done better? We should never have such constraints placed on us as a mother to feel either of these. Whatever a mother is capable of at that time, for her child, is sufficient for that time.

As Frandi-Coory bears out, it is always possible to break mindsets, or break the mould, as it is said. I.e. the sins of the father… All it takes is an invincible will, which clearly she had and has.

Frandi-Coory recounts the histories of both her Lebanese and Italian families. She explains how the various mindsets occurred and how they were passed down through the generations.

I found I kept referring to the photographs as I formed opinions on the various players in this tapestry of life.

What is astonishing here, is that Anne Frandi-Coory and I never made a connection until after our respective books were published, in separate countries. It was through reading each others work that we realised our lives were very closely linked. In fact we may well have known each other through a mutual friend (Italian) during our college years in Dunedin, NZ. That is why I can vouch for the events, scenery, time frames and cultures in this amazing work.

It’s absolutely raw in its honesty.

Very well written, it’s a compelling read, from start to finish.

Kudos to Anne Frandi-Coory.

-Susan Tarr 8 October 2014

More REVIEWS for Anne Frandi-Coory’s Memoir/Family History: 


A Passionate Quest To Find Answers For Generation of Defeated Mothers



PHENOMENA; The Lost And Forgotten Children 

phenomena susan tarr



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