The Whirl

An audacious and honest memoir about men, music and misadventures.

Journalist and music critic Jane Cornwell grew up in a sleepy outer suburb of Melbourne, riding horses and dreaming of adventure. Part rebel, part nerd, she lost herself in books about distant lands, as captivated by questing heroes in Ancient Greece as she was by real-life lady adventurers in the Solomon Islands. This lust for life would lead Jane to journalism and take her around the world, on a spirited journey spurred by a curiosity that was cultural, musical, anthropological and personal in almost equal parts.

From Cuba to Morocco, Santeria to Sufism, salsa to trance, Jane collects experiences like the rest of us pick up postcards. The Whirl describes a witty and wonderful journey from country to country and from man to man: the young Greek bartender she met during a bacchanalian goat festival. The Parisian-Congolese sapeur who wooed her with perfume and lingerie, and the Afro-Cuban salsa dancer who persuaded her to buy him jeans, trainers and a mobile phone. Eighteen chapters, each given a song title and a man’s name, each man serving as a portal into another world: stand up comedy; female sex tourism; the New Age scene in Los Angeles; each chapter an intimate, funny and fearless confessional.

Funny, wry, bittersweet and bold, The Whirl is a beautifully written memoir that will appeal to the adventurer in all of us.

The Whirl: Men, Music & Misadventures is published by HarperCollins Australia and is available to purchase as an ebook HERE from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

More Info
Inside: The Whirl by Jane Cornwell
Author Playlist: Jane Cornwell – The Whirl

Sydney Morning Herald
The Guardian
Writers Centre
Sydney Morning Herald (PDF)
Debrief Daily
The Listener

See a selection of user reviews at

Feedback for The Whirl

“A restless, reckless, sensual quest for the road less travelled – I’m buying copies for all my girlfriends.”

“Wow: memoir by Jane Cornwell. Funny, smart, throbbing with music, life, sex and rhythm – gorgeous!”

“Sometimes a journalist is a seeker with questions instead of answers!”

“Trippy, sweaty, funny, passionate, romantic, surprising – Jane Cornwell is a woman seeking anything but the ordinary and her book pulses with rhythm, desire and yearning.”


Sartre-Orial (PDF extract from The Whirl published in The Australian).

An Evening In Paris (PDF extract from The Whirl published in Australian Vogue)

Listen to an episode of Life Matters on ABC’s Radio National below, where I talk about The Whirl:

Other Publications

My other publications include:

I have written and updated the music chapters for the Lonely Planet travel series to West Africa, Southern Africa, South Africa and Africa

Festival chapters for Dorling Kindersley coffee table book, The Road Less Travelled (2009)

Janet Jackson (Carlton Books, 2002) “A must-have for all Janet fanatics” Amazon

The Corrs (Virgin Publishing, 1999) “Enjoyable, well researched” Irish Independent


African Music: Sacred Rhythms (PDF extract from Lonely Planet’s The Africa Book)