Tag Archives: Australia

Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville

sarah-thornhillDATE FINISHED: July 26th, 2013 

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Set in Australia a generation beyond its first convict settlers (a story told in Grenville’s The Secret River), Sarah Thornhill and Jack Langland grow up knowing that they belong together. But their families’ pasts turn out to be inextricably intertwined with the present and the couple is forced apart by circumstances beyond their control. Sarah settles for marriage to a good man she does not love, but her story is far from over…

THOUGHTS:  Told from Sarah’s perspective, I felt as a result that there was a lot missed out of this narrative.   Read more of this post

Dreamland by Tom Gilling

DATE FINISHED: July 28th, 2012 

RATED: ***

SYNOPSIS:  A seven year relationship has washed up to nothing, a career in journalism has been equally lacking in impetus. When Nick, against his better judgment, agrees to lie about a speeding ticket to get an old friend off the hook, he has no idea just how much the incident will change his so-so life. The speeding ticket turns into a fatal hit and run, and with no evidence of his innocence, Nick takes to the road and picks up a stranger’s identity en route.

THOUGHTS:  My main reason for picking up this book was the author – he wrote the wonderfully light historical novel Miles McGinty, and I hoped he might bring a similarly light touch to this mystery thriller, Read more of this post

Snake by Kate Jennings

DATE FINISHED: July 25th, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  This is the story of a marriage between polar opposites, dissatisfaction snaking through it from the start.  Rex is a solid man of earth, accepting of disappointments, and simply looking to settle into his own corner of land.  Irene is flighty as the air and soon resentful of the man and life she has tied herself to.  As the children grow up, Rex and Irene grow further apart under a scorching, suffocating sun.

THOUGHTS:  This deceptively simple story is built up through a chain of vividly realised images – the stark landscape, the hollow lives, the hope and the melancholy. Read more of this post

Pobby and Dingan by Ben Rice

DATE FINISHED: July 24th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  When Kellyanne’s imaginary friends disappear, she quickly slides into a mysterious illness. Although big brother Ashmol has never believed in Pobby and Dingan himself, he decides that the only way to cure her is to get the rest of their small mining town out looking for the missing invisibles, to prove to Kellyanne that people care. But will the plan work?  At the same time, their father is accused of ‘ratting’ at the local opal mines, and must contend with a swell of local opinion against him as his daughter wastes away before his eyes…

THOUGHTS:  Although on the surface this is a sentimental premise, Rice neatly avoids cliché in its telling. Read more of this post

Eucalyptus by Murray Bail

DATE FINISHED: July 20th, 2012 

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS:  Holland has planted his land with every variety of eucalyptus he can get his hands on – over five hundred in total. As his daughter reaches marriageable age, he decides that only the man who can correctly name all of his eucalypts will be good enough to take her hand. News of Ellen’s beauty and Holland’s challenge travel far and wide, but it is only when one suitor shows clear signs that he will accomplish this task that Ellen begins to worry – especially as she has recently met a stranger whose odd stories have somehow got under her skin…

THOUGHTS:  This is, of course, a fairy tale. But the characters are more than archetypes, the landscape lives and breathes, and the story is compelling. Read more of this post

Bereft by Chris Womersley

DATE FINISHED: July 11th, 2012 

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Quinn is a haunted man: once by his sister’s blood on his hands (and his knowledge of what happened to her before her death) and again by his experiences in the Great War. Returning home 10 years after running away from Sarah’s murder and the accompanying accusations, Quinn seeks redemption, but also fears for his own life at the hands of those who once knew him. Hiding in the hills, he is befriended by an edgy and curious young girl, Sadie, who convinces him that he needs to avenge his sister’s killer in order to move on with his life. But can he first tell his ailing mother the truth, and is he really capable of murder?

THOUGHTS:  There are many ghosts in this short novel, most of them still living. Read more of this post

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

DATE FINISHED: June 12th, 2012 (unfinished)

RATED: **

SYNOPSIS:  Tom turns to the solitary life of a lighthouse keeper as a way of dealing with the horrors he experienced in the war.  His newly-acquired feisty young wife embraces life on the tiny island – but as she suffers a succession of miscarriages, her brightness fades.  When one day a boat washes ashore containing nothing but a dead man and a tiny, crying baby, it does not take long for Isabel to convince her husband that keeping the child as their own is a good idea.  All changes, however, when they discover that the mother of the baby is alive and well…

THOUGHTS:  I don’t usually review books I have not finished reading, but having read over halfway in this one, I feel it is reasonable to offer an opinion. Read more of this post

The Voices by Susan Elderkin

DATE FINISHED: May 6th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  As an adolescent, Billy is most at home out in the bush, watching the kangaroos or collecting stones or – a little later – adventuring with the mysterious Maisie. As an adult, he is admitted to hospital bearing injuries more usually unique to the aboriginals, and in his delirium, explains to a doctor about the voices he has not heard since he was much younger – until recently. The spirits are lethargic, and the wind is restless, but what is Billy to them, anyway?

THOUGHTS:   This original novel, begins with a captivating story, narrated by spirits who are all but invisible to those around them, and a playful, attention-seeking breeze. Read more of this post

Oyster by Janette Turner Hospital

DATE FINISHED: April 26th, 2012

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Outer Maroo is a town on the edge of nowhere, not found on any map.  Outer Maroo is suspicious of strangers, and holds a secret beneath its suffocating, rainless sky. One stranger, Oyster, one day found his way beyond the town’s defences, and Oyster’s Reef brought even more strangers into the fold. But the secrets grew, too, and eventually the strangers grew fewer again.

THOUGHTS:   Despite the vast openness of the Australian outback, Oyster projects an intense claustrophobia. Read more of this post

Neverendings e-zine #1: Antipodean fiction

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Click here for FREE neverendings e-zine of reviews ( titles as listed below) & further reading suggestions

 

  • Oscar and Lucinda – Peter Carey
  • The Potato Factory – Bryce Courtenay
  • Strandloper – Alan Garner
  • Miles McGinty – Tom Gilling
  • The Bone People – Keri Hulme
  • Snake – Kate Jennings
  • Sixty Lights – Gail Jones
  • Remembering Babylon – David Malouf
  • Pobby and Dingan – Ben Rice
  • Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living – Carrie Tiffany

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Lists are not intended to be all-encompassing, but representative of books I have personally read and enjoyed.  Feel free to post further reading suggestions in the comments, as I will update the list with my future reading.  I will also link reviews as I re-read & they are added to the site.