Chapter 1 focuses on Louise Mack and discusses texts which are described in a way that suggests they are romances "with her heroines finding love and marriage" (36) albeit Alexi argues that "The conventions of romance undoubtedly control Mack’s fiction. Still, [...] she responded to these parameters—and those concerning femininity that appeared immutable with Australian Federation—to delegitimise the romance genre" (44). There are details given about Mack's own life.
There is also a chapter on "The Bush Girl: Tracing the Subverted and Perverted Australian Girl Across the Novels of Mabel Forrest (1872–1935)" and again, there are details given about Mabel Forrest. Her novels analysed here also end in marriage for the heroines.
The first chapter, ‘Little, Littler, Littlest: Louise Mack (1870–1935) and the Infantilised Australian Girl,’ traces the life and texts of Australia’s first female war correspondent for the Evening News. The three texts taken from Mack’s prolific oeuvre for analysis are An Australian Girl in London (1902), The Romance of a Woman of Thirty (1911), and Attraction (1913). Despite the seemingly conventional turn of events in each of Mack’s novels, with her heroines finding love and marriage, these novels do something extraordinary for twentieth-century romance fiction: Mack points to the perverse and dismal fates assigned to her Australian girls as they seek or are bound by heteronormative love, recreating them as ‘little’ and ‘childlike.’ In doing so, Mack depicts the process of her girls becoming women as infantilising them. The themes of duality and mobility are extensively explored in this chapter, as Mack’s Australian girls move between countries and lovers, at the level of the narrative, and between Mack’s actual literary output: she uses and reuses figures of the same ‘girl’ across her entire oeuvre, displaying the mobility and adaptability expected of, and rooted in, the very formation of the Australian Girl character type. (36-37)
There is no doubt that Mack ‘moves’ her heroines to mature them: she sends them on literal voyages, after which they can ‘become’ wives, mothers, women—ideal trajectories for the romance narrative. However, Mack uses movement—at the level of the girl, the text, and the narrative—to expose the failure inherent in the early twentieth- century romance narrative. For Mack, the girl cannot simply become woman as she is already a symbol of eternal youth, desire, and visibility. (38-39)
Her texts were commonly published under the Mills & Boon imprint—not unusual for women writers of the fin de siècle and subsequent decades—which was becoming more frequently associated with women readers. Despite her success and subsequent fame, Mack’s reputation was undoubtedly shaped by the ‘romance’ genre for which she is most remembered. (54)
[In the chapter on Forrest] Her romantic fiction is notable for the brutal realism that introduces each of her novels, apparent in the forms of attempted suicide or murder, the violent death of a parent, rape, and—in the aforementioned novel, The Wild Moth—incest. These formidable introductions are repeatedly mollified by enthusiastic paragraphs about the vibrant Australian landscape and ultimately satisfy the romance conventions when their heroines find love. Forrest’s romances follow this pattern so that they can engage with the complicated figure of the Australian Girl in a very singular way—at once sexualising the girl by thrusting her into multiple intimate relationships, and also stripping her of her sexuality by tying her body and her origin to the Australian landscape. (222)