A Saucepan in the Sky

A spellbinding memoir about a 1940s Australian childhood.

A Saucepan in the Sky is published by Hale & Iremonger in a quality hardback edition (ISBN 0-86806 702 4), by Reader's Digest in an abridged version, and by VocalEyes Productions as an audio book (ISBN 1-86482-832-3) and a library edition (ISBN 1-86482-996-6). 

A Saucepan in the Sky is the story of a boy who thinks anything can be explained if you have the right word − hence his quest for a really big dictionary. But through his family he gets an inkling that a thing called paradox plays a great part in the workings of the world.

He lives with his large family in a small, crowded house in inner-city Sydney. Uncle Dick is an old soldier from The Great War. He is an engineer on the railways so he knows about the Laws of Nature and how things work. He knows why the soul is invisible. He’s a good shot with a rifle.

Uncle Vic has a dark side to his nature and does things you’d rather someone you loved didn’t do.

Uncle Doug drives a steam train and studies hard. He has ambition.

Uncle Cec is too shy to talk. He’s not a relative – but a swaggie who rents the washhouse in the backyard. Like the others he has survived The Great Depression, but lost his family along the way. And that makes a difference.

Nan has ‘nerves’ because she’s had a hard life. She has lost more than her fair share of  ‘dear departed ones’.

Uncle Stan is Nan’s de facto. He is an old coalminer with silicosis. He may not have had much schooling, but he knows about everything − although he wouldn’t brag about that. He can tell you what the chemicals in your testicles are for; what happens when you carry too many memories; the proper way a man should drink from a bottle; different ways to wear a hat and the delicate art of not talking yourself into trouble.

The boy’s father works most of the time. It takes a lot of money to put food on the table for four people and keep a roof over their heads. He fought in New Guinea during the war and got a job on the railways when he was de-mobbed.

The boy’s mother hopes that one day they will be able to rent a place of their own. She is a country girl and makes the most of any situation. She has a secret place where she puts sad things. She plays “Stardust” and “Stella by Starlight” and other songs about the stars on the piano.

Uncle Stan’s big white pet cockatoo lives in an old ice-chest in the backyard.  He causes a lot of trouble.


A quality hardback edition with 22 glossy photos.

includes packing and postage. 

What readers say

Thank you for your story and your style.

J.A. Greenwich, NSW.
A Saucepan in the Sky

I particularly empathised with the days which for no reason at all become mood days and that thing about times where nothing “happens”.

M.T. Glebe, NSW.
A Saucepan in the Sky

Brian Nicholls creates an array of memorable characters. A lack of sentimentality is a strength of both McCourt’s (Angela’s Ashes) and Nicholls' memoir, but the national humour and idioms of A Saucepan in the Sky stand out as unmistakably Australian.

Independent Scholars Association of Australia Review
A Saucepan in the Sky

An absolutely delightful read from beginning to end. Funny, moving, insightful – and your authorial voice instantly appealed to me.

K.P. St. Leonards, NSW.
A Saucepan in the Sky

A Saucepan in the Sky has a lot more going for it than just a great title. Nicholls gets the child’s voice just right, no mean feat without getting mawkish

Marrickville Heritage Society Newsletter
A Saucepan in the Sky

Paints a vivid picture of a colourful extended family. A compelling tale.

Sunday Age
A Saucepan in the Sky

Your book is an affirmation of something or other that is probably too big to put a label on.

P.J. Paddington, NSW.
A Saucepan in the Sky

Had me in fits of laughter in the train en route to work.

R.H. Wavell Heights, Qld.
A Saucepan in the Sky

An utterly readable account of a memorable ‘ordinary’ environment. Uncle Vic is a ‘funny bugger’ with a Conradian outlook. ‘Uncle’ Stan is wonderfully disreputable. A charming book…as tender a maternal portrait as you will ever read.

Australian Book Review
A Saucepan in the Sky

This is the first time in my long life that I have felt IMPELLED to convey to a writer my opinion of his/her work. I began reading A Saucepan in the Sky at 6 am and finished it at 11.30 am. Couldn’t put it down. Haven’t been able to do anything else since then except think about it and read extracts to my husband over tea and lunch breaks.

J.W. Tumbarumba, NSW.
A Saucepan in the Sky

I reluctantly read the last page and immediately wished for more.

J. D. Paddington, NSW.
A Saucepan in the Sky

Never a dull moment.

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