The Lost Man by Jane Harper and a Brisi Heatwave.

Queensland is in heatwave mode so the boss asked me to stay home this week. No air conditioning you see. She knows full well I would incite the troops with tales of 14 yr olds being sent down the coal mines for 12 hour shifts. No matter – breakfast in the garden each morning has been delightful, and I’ve caught up on some reading.

0F569DCB-D655-4031-8D31-22199B91334D

Title : The Lost Man

Author : Jane Harper

Published : October 2018

Jane Harper is an Australian Author, whose two previous books, The Dry and Force Of Nature, went straight to the top of the bestsellers list. These books gained a following of Aaron Falk fans, the protagonist in these novels

This stand alone novel is set in rural and remote Queensland, and begins with two brothers meeting at the boundary of their neighbouring properties following the death of a third brother in strange circumstances.

Nathan Bright, a loner and outsider, tries to understand why his much respected and younger brother died from the heat of the Australian sun, having walked 9 kilometres away from his air conditioned car.

The biggest character in this book is the harsh, red dust landscape of outback Australia. The story may seem slow but that’s the pace you have to maintain under a huge Qld sun.

7286EAC8-C160-4C87-A53E-4D44352DD2E2

There is just so much happening in this book with so many topical themes being covered including the high rate of suicide amongst farmers. It is a story about family secrets, and how those secrets can cross the generations.

Forget Falk – he’s a wet sock. Nathan Bright is my boyo. This is a great read – I had to finish it in one sitting and did not come close to solving the mystery of Cameron Bright’s death.

TIP.
Make sure you put a treat for yourself under the Christmas Tree as I have being doing so for twenty years. This book is the perfect, slow burning holiday read:)

Boy Swallows Universe and Boggo Road Gaol

In June 2018, journalist Trent Dalton had his first novel released to cries of “next Australian classic!” Many of the initial reviews seemed to focus on the book cover. For this old cynic that immediately raised red flags……..

Boy Swallows Universe tells the story of Eli Bell, 8, and brother Augustus, 9, who has not spoken for several years following their mother’s escape from their father. Frankie, the boys mother, states that “the universe stole her boy’s words”.

The book also begins with a hook -“ Your end is a dead blue wren “ – which did nothing to alleviate my concerns. We then launch into the warm relationship between the boys and Arthur “Slim” Halliday, in real life a criminal known as “the Houdini of Boggo Road Gaol”. Eli is aware of Slim’s reputation and criminal history and questions how then this old gentleman can still be so kind and warm. Thus begins Eli’s search for what makes a “good man”…..

(For non Queenslanders Boggo Road Gaol sits on the fringe of Brisbane CBD. Most of the area has been redeveloped for yuppie high rise though the main block still stands and remained in use as a correctional facility till the late 80s and has an appalling history dating back to days of the penal colony. Last year I sat in the courtyard watching Shawshank Redemption surrounded by razor wire. It is a horrible place, an evil place, and the cells tell of unspeakable things. Even less than forty years ago the only bathroom facilities consisted of a bucket. That developers are chasing this property for bars, eateries and boutique accomodation is hilarious as the entire site has a truly God awful vibe.)

Back to the book.

Set in the outer suburbs of Brisbane in the early 1980’s the setting is familiar and nostalgic. Add Contrived to my list of disappointments.

Frankie is weaned off drugs by Lyle, her de facto, who is dealing drugs within the neighbourhood and mixing it with the Vietnamese drug Lords and includes the boys on these ventures. In an attempt to be a “good man” and to improve the lot of his partner and step sons he starts doing drug deals on the side which leads to his “disappearance” and Frankie’s incarceration.

Eli and Augustus are shipped off to their Dad, who they don’t know, who lives in a Housing Commission pocket in Bracken Ridge. Robert is an alcoholic who at one stage, in despair, drove his car into a lake with the boys in the back seat.

The boys grow up witnessing domestic violence, gang wars, racial conflict, drugs and murder, and Eli even breaks into Gaol on Christmas Day to see Frankie with the help of an ex-con and “good man”.

6C7F1944-5402-4712-A935-D94469EA970C.png

Are you depressed yet?

Surprisingly, the mood is quietly optimistic with the boys watching over each other and navigating their awful world, and as they age we learn of their dreams. Augustus wants to paint and give back to the world, and Eli wants to be a crime writer. He certainly has the personal experience down pat

Of course, there is a girl involved who sees the good in Eli, and both lads survive and grow from their crummy existence.

After being stabbed by an enforcer in the employ of a Mr Big, who is actually much respected in the local community ( and involved with the step fathers “disappearance” – think jar and formildahyde – as well as the kidnaping of a young boy) Eli fades into his past and dreams of his friend, Slim.

Slim nods.

“Get going” he says “ you’re running outta time”.

“Do your time, hey Slim?”

He nods. “Before it does you”, he says.

Eli gains work at the local newspaper and Augustus wins a citizenship award. They are both on the way to becoming good men.

***************

Since finishing this book I’ve been interested enough to read further about the author. This is Dalton’s story. This is Dalton’s truth, which made the novel so much more fascinating. Slim Halliday was a family friend, Dalton grew up in a decidedly dysfunctional family, and he worked for the local paper.

Dalton says of his novel – It is essentially a way I have honestly tried to approach life: Just take it in. Don’t just write about one thing, take it all in. Take every last aspect, take all the dark, take all the light, take the whole universe in. That’s what the kid in the book is doing, just going for it. That can be dangerous, but I love when anyone does that, just owns it. That’s what helps us survive.”

A good coming-of-age read despite its unsettling content, and (sadly) very Australian.

The Notebook Makes Eating Chocolate Guilt Free.

In 1986 I delivered a Christmas baby. A round, brown baby that arrived like a freshly baked loaf of bread. Worst summer of my life, let me tell you. I continue to give her grief each and every December about the lack of bubbles in my life that year. I must confess that when the Doctor recommended an increase in my calcium intake I took to having a Tia Maria milkshake each and every day.

So my beautiful Capricorn daughter has a birthdate so close to Christmas that she never had a party with friends on the actual day – a situation which at 32 years of age she continues to hold against me.
( Never her father. Why is this so?)

Having a birthday so close to Christmas has created so many issues over the years. Most significantly it effected her relationships with Significant Others. Young men were always judged according to two criterias:

1. Does the young man in question buy separate Christmas and Birthday gifts ?

Several good looking prospects went by the wayside after gifting only one combined parcel to cover these two major Life events. It’s not that the daughter is materialistic. After all, she is the grand daughter of Depression raised folk (and a tight arsed mother).
“ Mo, it’s the principle”. Oddly, I kinda get that……..

2. Does the young man in question sit through the movie, The Notebook, with her, from beginning to end?

Well, that one definitely sorted the wheat from the chaff. Have you ever sat through The Notebook?

The Notebook was the first book written by Nicholas Sparkes in 1996 in a long list of easy-to-read romantic novels. It was adapted into a film in 2004, starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as the younger version of a married couple of 50 odd years, in James Garner and Gena Rowlands, following their love story from before WW2 till the onset of old age. And as Bette Davis once said, “ old age ain’t no place for sissies”.

4B8CAAA1-D178-47E5-B417-726D7A561222.jpeg

I’m not a real good gauge of chick flicks, with a preference for sword fights and bows and arrows. Nothing like a good scalping to make a girl happy really. However, The Notebook is a great movie for when you are in the mood for a little weep – we all have those moments, don’t we? – or when the need arises to eat a box of chocolates without any remorse.

It’s a movie with visual impact, with McAdams, Gosling, and love triangle John Marsden all looking damn fine. Some of the scenery is breathtakingly simple yet beautiful, especially the scenes on the lake.

The movie is a huge improvement on the book because of the photography and complementing soundtrack, although having recently reread the book I found it more layered than I remembered, with more glimpses of humour. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack too this weekend. It’s kinda spooky when you can identify the scene from the music alone, isn’t it?

DD1722B4-DCC4-4478-841E-E0C7A6835AD7.jpeg

My Capricorn found her Keeper in a military boyo with seven tours of duty under his belt. If he survived The Notebook he can survive anything.

Recommendation : Box of tissues with a block of Dark Chocolate.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I_U3Qk0tLWc

Australian Author Challenge : The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

True Story:

When visiting my daughter in Canberra recently she handed me a book to read for the plane trip home. She had been out for afternoon drinks with friends during my stay, one of whom was burgeoning Australian author, Dan O’Malley.

My daughter did warn me that young Mr O’Malley was a Star Wars nerd which, quite frankly, put the fear of God into me. You see, one of my proudest achievements is never having watched a Star Wars movie. It’s right up there with never having owned any Tupperware.

One of the reviews I read for The Rook stated ,”Part Bourne Identity, part X-Men and with a hefty dose of Monty Python.” I do not have the words to describe my anxiety levels.

BCC57951-47EF-4C38-83C7-2827EE28B20D

Daniel O’Malley graduated with a Masters degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. He then returned to his childhood home, Australia. His first novel, The Rook, was released in 2012 and was a winner of the 2012 Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

The Rook” is basically the story of two Myfanwy Thomases. The first one we never officially meet: she exists by way of a suitcase full of letters that she writes to the second Myfanwy throughout the course of the novel. She was working as a bureaucrat in a highly secret organisation, known as The Checquy Group, before her “demise” and has stumbled upon some information indicating there are traitors within this organisation which specialises in paranormal intelligence.

The second Myfawny wakes up with two black eyes and her memory scrubbed, finding letters in her pockets, which lead to her stepping into the job role as Rook at Chequay.

Some of her work colleagues are unsettling at the best. One is a vampire, another is one person with four separate bodies, and yet another looks into your dreams. Myfawney steps up in her position to resolve issues with slime, mould, and skinless bodies, and to oust the traitors within. It’s that kind of book.

To be honest I struggled with the first few chapters. Totally out of my comfort zone. It didn’t take long to get into the rhythm, however, which was aided by some humour along the way. The banter between our heroine and Shantay lightened the storyline as did the relationship with Ingrid, and conversations with the naked Belgian. Hell, I even got a kick out of the insults traded with Fish Tank boy !

It’s a fast paced book which tells a good story. It may be a tad different, particularly to me, though it is definately entertaining. I hope the daughter lends me the sequel : Stiletto.

Who said you couldn’t teach an old dog new tricks, hey…..

 

 

Australian Author Challenge : The Crying Place by Lia Hills.

Lia Hills is a poet, novelist and translator. Her debut novel, The Beginner’s Guide to Living, was released to critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Victorian, Queensland and Western Australian Premiers’ Literary Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. It has been translated into several languages. Other works include her award-winning poetry collection the possibility of flight and her translation of Marie Darrieussecq’s acclaimed novel, Tom is Dead. She lives with her family in the hills outside Melbourne.

Let’s be totally upfront. I selected this book purely on the basis of the front cover. Gorgeous colours, aren’t they?

E75771A8-3DED-4272-8CC4-473AA8AE228C

Saul is a thirty something young man working in Sydney after several years of adventuring in different parts of the world with his childhood friend, Jed. Saul receives a telephone call advising that Jed has committed suicide.

Instead of returning to their birthplace, Tasmania, for the funeral, Saul jumps in his car and drives to Melbourne. It is a long, boring drive, and the quotes from the writings of Australian novelist, Patrick White, tend to make me apprehensive of where this is all heading.

Melbourne has a shared history for Jed and Saul, and in the room in the boarding house where Jed had been staying, Saul finds a photo of a young Aboriginal woman tucked inside a poetry book. None the wiser on why Jed has resorted to such a final solution, Saul continues his road trip through to Adelaide, then shooting north through to Coober Pedy in search of the woman in the photograph.

This is one long drive interspersed with petrol stops, pit stops in country towns for a cold beer, and toilet breaks behind trees.

I was warned by all those literary quotes, wasn’t I?

Then it hit me: Australia is a huge country with long stretches of nothingness, and it is true that road trips in rural areas do become a series of petrol/food/ personal stops where along the way the traveller focuses on the constant change of scenery. By the time Saul arrives in the underground, opal mining town of Coober Pedy, we are thrilled when he meets up with a lass of German extraction. The human interaction picks up the pace of the storyline and all that descriptive prose, which is beautifully done but wordy, eases off.

Together they travel further north to Australia’s Centre, Alice Springs, stopping with an indigineous acquaintance along the way, where he is able to track down the whereabouts of Jed’s friend in the photo.

Saul gets permission from the traditional land owners to enter the Western Desert where he finally meets up with the woman, Nara. After some days living within the community, and living as they do, he finally learns a secret about Jed.

The long, solo drive to Adelaide was hard work, though the rhythm of the book changed for me once we had some human interaction. Life within an aboriginal community was fascinating and I enjoyed an insight into their spirituality. However, I’m a bit amazed after having read so many reviews that many readers said they benefited reading about the living conditions of aboriginals in rural settlements. Doesn’t anybody read a newspaper anymore?

The Crying Hills is more a painting of a series of beautiful yet harsh landscapes than a novel.

The content, with all its grief, does not make it a fun book to read.

And as for the big secret? Enough to kill yourself over? This did not sit well with me either, though I guess suicide is never a comfortable topic.

Whip Bird by Robert Drewe – Book Review.

 

E45BDD1A-36D8-4708-9D0F-657F24BD7369

Hugh Cleary has spent months organising a reunion of all the descendants of Conor Cleary, who immigrated from Ireland in 1854. The reunion is staged at Whipbird, Hugh and wife, Christine’s, vineyard near Ballarat, Victoria, and is a weekend event featuring – surprise! -lots of wine.

The scene is set. Over 1000 descendants from across Australia and overseas converge on the property, mostly wearing Team colours to identify their branch of the family tree. Knowing your kin isn’t compulsory. Lots of Irish relatives with the odd Asian thrown in for good measure -it’s that kind of weekend.

From here the novel is just like any other large family function in Australia, especially Christmas Day at Brizzy May’s Home, with an assortment of family and friends (and alcoholic drinks). Just the run of the mill conversations take place : politics, sport, multiculturalism, environmentalism, who is sleeping with whom, who has had Botox treatments. Nothing out of the norm.

Indeed, the beauty of this novel is that the author excels at “people watching” and his observations do raise more than a fair share of smiles. Middle aged ladies with their bat wings, the fashion trend of wearing shoes without socks, corporate greed within the banking sector, indigenous Australians making good football players, and the gentrification of city pubs. All the stuff you talk about at the office Water cooller really.

There is also a back story which has Conor, who was at the Eureka Stockade in Australia’s colonial days, attending the reunion. You will have to read for yourself the mechanics of this situation.

Two hundred pages in and the constant commentary began to grate. Topical, certainly, but I became weary of the whole exercise. This was my first Robert Drewe novel so I’m not sure if this effort was meant to be sarcastic or clever. Does Drewe like contemporary Australia or is he having a shot?

My interest waned at the Sidney Nolan incident as I felt the author had at that point gone over the top. Up until then, it was all totally believable, and I too felt like I was attending the reunion, camping under the gum trees, surrounded by grape vines, and with a vino in hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Returning by Russell J Perry – Australian Author Challenge 2018

If you’ve even spent any length of time in Queensland, Australia, this book will tease all your senses. From the mango trees, the smell of cane fires burning, to the views across to Hichinbrook Island – goodness, I could even taste the cold ale at The Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane.

The book opens with the death of an elderly gent. Elsewhere, within minutes, a baby boy is born, and we just know there has to be some sort of connection.

We then jump ahead 30 odd years and meet Jacob Shaunessy, a young man in his early thirties, who is dissatisfied with his lot in life. Jacob has vivid dreams, which include exotic landscapes, and an even more exotic young woman. He resigns from his job in the city and heads to Far North Queensland to start a new life and to chase  the source of his dreams.

Jacob becomes involved with the local sugar cane community in which he lives and works. His dreams lead him to the secrets of a previous generation, to mystery, and mayhem in this sleepy little township in the deep north.

AF04E0FF-C086-44E9-84FD-64A221CF8F11

This is an interesting novel in that it does makes you think about the relevance of dreams and the question of reincarnation. The back stories of all the characters are believable and interesting, and it is an easy book to read.

The author has successfully conveyed the essence of North Queensland, right down to the elderly Italian widows dressed all in black for mourning, without being overly wordy. The sudden downpours of rainfall, the heat that makes clothes stick to your body, and even the seemingly laid back policeman pursuing justice, are all very authentic.

Yes, my familiarity with the landscape probably garnered my interest quickly, though it’s the storytelling that maintained it.

Reincarnation? Up for debate. Vivid Dreams? Now those I understand. Every night is like a eight hour movie session in technicolor at my place.

High Five for an other Australian Indie Author!

 

Australian Author Challenge: Celtic Blood by James John Loftus

True Story:

The week before Christmas in Brisbane was stinking hot. Work, which usually eases off at this time of year, was flat chat. I had to make a dash to get to the railway station in order to make the trip home. I boarded the train a wet, slimey mess and the makeup had long since slipped off.

Pulling out my IPad I continued on with a book I had recently downloaded. I’m a pretty focused reader so when I heard a man’s voice from the other side of the carriage asking if he could recommend a good book I was a bit dozy. I heard the question a second time. The gentleman, early 50s and well dressed, walked over and sat beside me.

Two important things to remember here:
* I don’t think I’ve ever been the kind of girl to encourage a strange fella to introduce himself on a train, or anywhere else, for that matter – even those days when I was younger, taller and thinner.
*  I was most definitely looking like the Wreck of the Hesperus.

3E7E161C-E645-4513-B1A0-69896CD99298

The book this gentleman recommended? His own of course!

James John Loftus has been interested in medieval history since seeing a book with a cover detailing the battle of Agincourt. The book engaged his imagination, and drew him to the period. Unable to read until in grade five some remedial tuition enabled him to commence on the journey from avid book reader to writer. He has one novel to date and a co-credit as a feature film writer, Underdog’s Tale.

The People you meet, hey…….

Review for The Australian Author Challenge :

230D159F-4B2D-42DF-9C40-EE6279FA5095

Celtic Blood is set in 13th Century Scotland and begins with a shipwreck. The sole survivor is young Scandinavian, Seward, who is taken in by the community. A few years later the Earl of Ross is murdered by other claimants for Scotland’s throne, and Seward acts as protector to the 13 year old son, Morgund MacAedh.

The book follows Morgund’s journey from boyhood to manhood with a focus on revenging his father’s death, and includes numerous misadventures, including imprisonment, torture, sheltering in forests, bloody battles, and the occult.

Celtic Blood is a fast moving story exploring Scotland’s turbulent past. Think William Wallace in Braveheart and you’ll have some concept of the novel’s setting and pace.

Initially I found the syntax a little disconcerting, especially as the Middle Ages are not my thing, though by fifty pages in I had the swing of it and realised that it only added to the storyline.

Celtic Blood by James John Loftus is available in paperback and in Kindle. It is an enjoyable read and would make a good movie. I did find the ending abrupt and for this reason I wondered if the author was looking to make this Book 1 of a series. It also explains the existence of the McKay Clan.

Strike 1 for Indie Authors!

Bookfest Saves The Day

Two weeks back at the coal face and it feels like two months…..

There is a ray of sunshine however. Tomorrow marks the opening of the Lifeline Bookfest in Brisbane. Do you know what that means? Around about 4 kilometres of trestle tables covered in preloved books, DVDs, magazines, CDs, stationary, and jigsaw puzzles, all at bargain prices.

3E8AFF55-E39E-4E8C-ABD4-4DEA4CA2E836

All funds raised at the Bookfest support Lifeline and UnitingCare Community programs for individuals, families and children. In Queensland, UnitingCare Community runs Lifeline services such as Crisis Support Service and post-disaster Community Recovery Programs. Which means that if I overspend on the household budget there is no guilt, right?

3D03D98F-1294-4A02-AAC7-D8FBF468969B

Bookfest runs for just over a week and everyday there are new books. I volunteered one year to replenish books in the evenings and it was a colossal task.

When my youngest daughter turned 16 I gifted her a copy of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die. This meant that out of necessity Bookfest each year became our first port of call. I became accustomed to my child dragging a suit case on wheels through the suburbs, on the train journey, and then weaving in and out of the aisles of the Brisbane Convention Centre.

C49A1D05-6AB5-4B00-AA8B-3EE876F4FFB5

This daughter never minded losing five or six hours searching for her beloved books, and has since developed the techniques and reputation of a “spotter”. My other daughter tended to search for reading material in sprints : a ten minute dash down the aisle, off to a cafe, another ten minute amble looking at books, oh, must be time to eat.

These days, I find sifting through over a million books hard work. Still exciting, but hard, so I have an Action Plan.

Firstly, I head to the Biography section where I continue to look for anything Errol Flynn, though usually with limited success.

87221CC5-9AFF-4318-BDCD-EDC47843720B

Then it’s to the Military section where you tend to need to be more forceful and use your elbows with a bit more precision. That’s because there are some serious collector dudes who tend to hog this area. Not only do they hover, but they then tend to look at the books page by page, assessing a books value. If I wasn’t a pacifist I would advocate a good old fashioned hat pin. Despite the angst I tend to come away with a few treasures for myself and for friends with similar interests. The military s-i-l tends to score well.

Putting on a smiley face we brave the crowds and then search for novels to read on the daily train journey. Now that I’m browsing childless this is an easier task – no lists to work from. But this is when you find yourself taking defensive action from shopping trolleys, prams, suitcases, people with two book laden backpacks, straw baskets and 5,000 other bibliophiles.

Books tend to “speak” to me. Sounds bizarre, I know. I will slowly walk down half a dozen aisles, with no idea what I am looking for, and I will hear a whisper from somewhere on the tables saying “pick me, pick me”. Which I will do, twenty or thirty times.

By now, it’s about time to catch up with The Love Of My Life who will have been on the search for books with a Dragon on the front cover, anything reincarnation and past lives, CDs with music from the 70s (urggghhhh!), and half a dozen jigsaws.

88D28D95-2D51-4996-A297-CE3F3FB4B212

If we do meet up before the cash registers we will head off together to the Australiana section for some poetry or bush writing, and which will also give me the opportunity to dump some of my finds with him ( to pay for…..hahaha. Who said I was stupid?)

Bookfest is one of those events that you return to, year in and year out. With no Entry Fee it is quite common to return for a second shot at the prize. Not only is it an adventure, but it is always great to come away with some treasures. I will forever remember my book obsessed daughter sitting on the carpet in her bedroom surrounded by the dozens of books she had purchased from Lifeline Bookfest, much like a Little Person at Christmas surveying all their gifts.

Makes having gone to work for the past fortnight worth the while.

5028A66D-CF78-4EBF-A86E-DCD2DF7BA333

Do you have anything like our Bookfest?

PS if you are interested to hear more about Lifeline Bookfest go here:

http://thegreatdayout.com.au/fun/lifeline-bookfest

 

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.

3C96920F-994D-4DD1-AB56-98C96DF0D790.jpeg

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.

6B282A0D-F0FA-4EA0-888F-0FC9514C5B2A

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.