A Distant Journey by Di Morrissey.

Back to work and it’s been a total shock to the system. Must have completely unwound over the break as I felt I required some retraining. Plus the heat is relentless: bitumen roads are melting and Flying Foxes (bats) are falling out of trees broiled. I have fresh water out for the wildlife and the word is out that there is a new cafe in town – the variety of patrons is wonderful.

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So starting the year with some light reading, and Book 1 for the Australian Author Challenge – A Distant Journey by Di Morrissey.

Di Morrissey (born 18 March 1943)is one of the most successful novelists of Australia with 25 best-selling novels and five children’s books published.In May 2017 Di was inducted into the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) Hall of Fame and given the Lloyd O’Neil Award for service to the Australian book industry.

The novel opens in Palm Springs in the 1960’s with Babs, a young woman with a child whom has relocated because of domestic violence issues. The initial 100 pages are dedicated to Babs and her new life, which is really quite odd because she isn’t the protagonist. There are also lots of references to Old Hollywood with lots of name dropping such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr. I’m not sure of its relevance at all….

Pressing on, Babs’ niece, Cindy, runs away from home and seeks shelter with her Aunt. Cindy goes off to College with no real idea what she wants to do with her life except get married to her boyfriend. He, on the other hand, has career aspirations and the couple split. Within weeks heartbroken Cindy has met an an older man, an  Australian sheep farmer, and on a whim, as she “wants some adventure”, marries him in Vegas.

They return to Murray’s farm which has been in the family several generations and which is still ruled by the autocratic elder Parnell.

Cindy battles various challenges with the relocation to a rural and remote property as can be expected : loneliness, Mother Nature, a miscarriage, and a father-in-law who dislikes her immensely.

Murray’s mother left the property when he was a young boy so his ties to his father are very strong and he seems incapable of questioning his authority or supporting his own wife. Murray, you are pretty insipid, mate…..

The novel then seems to skip years very quickly. There are children, and then we have children thinking about children and their own lives and careers. These years quickly touch upon droughts, economic growth and the price of wool, Picnic races, friendships, and some news of Babs at last – dying of cancer back in the good old US of A.

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Parnell Senior continues to be a blot on the landscape, and as an octagarian, is every bit as rude as ever. He seems to have poorly invested the family fortune, requiring the sale of assets including the old boys plane.

There is a plane crash during its relocation to the new owner. On the very same day a forty year old skeleton is found on the property, and there is also a suicide. So much happening within two pages, when the reader has had to wade through pages and pages of nothingness to get to the crux of the matter.

Murray at last “mans up”, but poor old Babs is dead.

I think I earned a Purple Heart by finishing this book.

 

 

 

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