In 1930s Adelaide, four women turn to witchcraft to undermine a new authoritarian government determined to enforce their marriage and virtual enslavement.</p><p>In the 1930s in Adelaide, sisters Margaret and Esther Beasley and their friend Phyllis O’Donnell are learning to be witches. Their guide is Audrey Macquarie, a glamorous, Communist schoolmate who was taught the art of changing dreams by her suffragette great-aunt, Delia Maddingley. This subtle magic, known only to spinsters, has been passed from aunt to niece for generations. Now this group of young women are using it to power their own small revolution, undermining a system that wants them married, uneducated and at home.
As Europe begins falling to fascism, these women – the Semaphore Supper Club – stumble on a nest of Nazi sympathisers in the poetry salons of Adelaide. The poets’ political connections help them rise in power, until the Club finds they aren’t just fighting chauvinist writers but have taken on Australia’s new authoritarian government. As the government discovers it too can harness dreams, Margaret, Esther, Phyl and Audrey face an overwhelming force they cannot defeat. Each of them must decide whether – and how – to continue the struggle in the face of almost certain failure.
The History of Dreams explores female friendship, the power of finding a vocation, and the importance of joy in a time of political darkness. It asks what our responsibilities are when faced with an unjust government, particularly when we have the privilege to look the other way.