A guide to Australian author Judy Nunn and a few of her most popular books.
Judy Nunn is an Australian novelist whose character-driven stories have captured readers in Australia and beyond. After starting her career as an actress, she then went on to write scripts for television and radio. In the 90s, she turned her hand to prose and has been writing fiction ever since.
Her first three novels became instant bestsellers, a good prediction of the success she'd continue throughout her writing career. Her historical novels are especially beloved for their depictions of Australia and their deep and complex character construction.
If you haven’t read any of Judy Nunn's books, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. With over twenty books to her name, it might seem like a daunting list to tackle – but trust us, once you start reading Judy’s books, you won’t want to stop.
Scroll on to learn more about seven of her novels; perfect for fans new and old.
Where to start reading Judy Nunn
Judy Nunn’s newest novel, Black Sheep, is a sweeping historical tale about a sheep-farming family and the enigmatic young man they let into their lives. When Ben McKinnon, heir to the Glenfinnan sheep property, befriends a mysterious sheep shearer named James, he convinces his new friend to come work at his family’s station. Thanks to the powerful friendship, James feels like he might have finally found the family he’s always longed for . . . but has the McKinnon family just adopted a black sheep?
Based on a true story, the number one bestseller Khaki Town is set in 1942 Townsville. On the brink of invasion by Imperial Japanese Forces, the small Queensland city is transformed overnight into a transport hub for 70,000 American and Australian soldiers ready for combat. While the Australian troops resent the well-fed ‘Yanks’ who are taking over their town, conflict begins brewing within the American ranks. Overseas, black GIs are enjoying freedom from segregation for the first time – and their white comrades don’t like it. When racial violence explodes throughout the military, a young U.S. Congressman, Lyndon B. Johnson, is sent to investigate and ‘keep a lid’ on the situation.
It’s 2001 and with the new millennium comes an impressive infrastructure project in the red heart of Australia. The Ghan railway, connecting Adelaide to the Top End, is about to be realised – yet the final leg of the tracks is not without complications. Between Alice Springs and Darwin, much of the desert that the railway will cross tears through Aboriginal land. To help negotiate, the Ghan brings in mediator Jessica Manning to reassure the Elders that their sacred sites will be protected. As she tries to win the trust of the Elders, Matthew Witherton and his survey team threaten to disrupt the peace as they blast a rail corridor through the land. When Jessica and Matthew’s paths converge, their cultures collide to reveal a mystery that the two must solve – awakening an ancient wrong that echoes across the vast outback.
Sanctuary follows nine strangers who are forced to find things in common when a violent storm casts their wooden dingy ashore somewhere off the coast of Western Australia. With no clue as to where they’ve been washed up, the strangers bond as their survival instincts draw them together in the vast nothingness. Fate has cast them ashore, and in dreaming of survival they begin to dream of a better life . . . but forty kilometres away on the mainland is the tiny fishing port of Shoalhaven: a town where things never change. Until now.
Another number-one bestseller, Elianne, grapples with questions of wealth, power and legacy. In 1881 ‘Big Jim’ Durham created a great sugar mill in Southern Queensland for his young French wife, Elianne. Fast forward to the 1960s and the massive estate is now home to hundreds of workers and the Durham family. But the fortress has its dark secrets, which are slowly coming to the surface. When the workers leave the great sugar estate, the family begins its fall from grace – begging the question: what becomes of a family when they lose everything that has defined them for generations?
Click here to find out where you can see Judy Nunn on tour!
Australian authors and personalities read some of our favourite picture books.
A sweeping historical novel to read with your book club.
Impress your book club with a 1940s themed party to discuss Khaki Town by Judy Nunn.
Transport your book club to Queensland during World War II with Judy Nunn’s exciting new novel, Khaki Town.
The Khaki Town author answers our questions about bringing wartime Townsville to life.
Discover the strength of the human spirit with your book club in Judy Nunn’s Sanctuary.
Judy Nunn offers insights into the creation of her book Sanctuary.
Let Judy Nunn take you on a scintillating journey through the golden age of Australian show business.
If you're spending all your waking time thinking about the Roman Empire (as many of us are), why not read about it too?
What you need to know about My Policeman – the movie and the book – before watching the new film, coming in November.
An interview with Kate Forsyth about her new novel, The Crimson Thread.
Fiona McIntosh shares five surprising facts she learned while researching The Champagne War.