Is it the year of Queen Victoria? With a television series about her early days on the throne showing on the ABC and a film about her relationship with her Indian servant Abdul Karim at the time of her golden jubilee in cinemas around the country, it would appear so.
So it somehow seems appropriate that Julia Baird's massive biography of the monarch who reigned for nearly 64 years, Victoria: The Woman Who Made the Modern World, which was published at the end of 2016, should be shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award.
Baird, a columnist with Fairfax Media, is joined on the list by ABC Europe correspondent Steve Cannane for his in-depth picture of Scientology, Fair Game: The Incredible Story of Scientology in Australia, and ABC investigative reporter Louise Milligan with her controversial Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell.
The three-book shortlist was culled from a nine-book longlist that included books investigating crime, gambling politics and drugs.
When Lucy Sussex reviewed Baird's book for Fairfax she said it was "written with a journalist's facility, a historian's research, and with much empathy for an often difficult woman. It comprises a political, feminist guide to Victoria." The Australian reviewer described it as "highly readable".
The winner of the Walkley Book Award will be announced on November 29. Last year's winner was Stan Grant for Talking to My Country and previous winners include Paul Kelly, Pamela Williams, George Megalogenis and Don Watson.