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  • Dani Vee

Book Review: Katherine Kovacic

The Portrait of Molly Dean, Katherine Kovacic


The Portrait of Molly Dean is set in 1930s Melbourne and traces the brutal murder of Molly Dean, writer and model for artist Colin Colahan. The novel is based upon the actual murder of the young woman by an unknown assailant. The intriguing part is how Kovacic weaves fictitious characters amongst characters from history, filling in the gaps including who was responsible for her death.


The parallel narrative of Molly Dean and Alex Clayton (an art dealer who finds the Colahan portrait of Dean) serves to bring us back and forth through time, and as the novel progresses the women become reflections of one another; women who choose their own paths and refuse to succumb to societal expectations. Kovacic explores misogyny, dysfunctional families and unconventional romantic relationships.


It’s worth a read for an insight into the art world, the beautiful 1930s setting and of course how the book breathes new life into a life taken too soon.


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