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Baileys Best of the Best

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Half of a Yellow Sun by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been named 'Best of the Best' of the winners in the second decade of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Chosen by the Chairs of Judges of the past ten years, Muriel Gray, Chair of Judges 2007, said Half of a Yellow Sun is a benchmark for excellence in fiction writing.  

Established in 1996 to celebrate and promote international fiction by women throughout the world to the widest range of readers possible, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction is awarded for the best novel of the year written by a woman. Any woman writing in English - whatever her nationality, country of residence, age or subject matter - is eligible.

The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze figurine known as a 'Bessie', created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.

The next Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction will be awarded in June 2016.  Last year's winner was Ali Smith for How To Be Both.  


A House in the Sky

Reading Rewards - reviews -

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. Later in life, in war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she travelled to Somalia - 'the most dangerous place on earth'. 

On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road. Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives 'wife lessons' from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses 
in the desert, she survives on memory - every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity - and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the tortured woman kept in chains in the dark.

This is an unbelievable story, yet it is true. Amanda has such a talent for writing. Her vivid recall of events is remarkable considering everything that she had to endure. Full of suspense, drama and her resilience of spirit, I can highly recommend this book. I listened to the e-audiobook, read by the author and articulated with steady strength. 


The Informant

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Informant by Susan Wilkins

As a drug-fuelled teenage tearaway, Kaz Phelps took the rap for her little brother, Joey, over a bungled armed robbery, and went to jail. Six years later she's released on licence. Clean and sober – and driven by a secret passion for her lawyer, Helen – Kaz wants to escape the violence and abuse of her Essex gangster family.

Joey is a charming, calculating and cold psychopath. He worships the ground his sister walks on and he's desperate to get her back in the family firm. But all Kaz wants is a fresh start and to put the past behind her. When Joey murders an undercover cop, DS Nicci Armstrong is determined to put him behind bars. What she doesn't realise is that their efforts are being sabotaged by one of their own.

The final test for Kaz comes when her cousin, Sean, gets out of jail. A vicious, old-school thug, he wants to put the girl back in her place. But can Kaz face him down and get her life back?

This is very much like watching The Minder, wiv Terry an’ Arfur getting into more than a bit of bovver wiv the Ole Bill, but more modern – with computers and ecstasy.  The amount of violence and corruption on both sides of the fence should come as no surprise. Our feisty protagonist is a very well-written character and engages some sympathy in her efforts to escape the clutches of her criminal family, and all in all, this book could be movie material; trouble is, it’s somewhat predictable as we’ve seen it all before.  

I downloaded the e-audiobook from our Bolinda site and it was very well narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis, handling male, female and different English class accents with aplomb, but we also have this title in print, audio and e-book formats.  

PS - Just noticed that this is book 1 in a series.  Book 2 - The Mourners, is available on our catalogue.

Bulwer-Lytton Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is a tongue-in-cheek competition held annually. Entrants are invited "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels" – that is, deliberately bad.

The contest was started in 1982 by Professor Scott E. Rice of the English Department at San Jose State University and is named for English novelist and playwright Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, author of the much-quoted first line "It was a dark and stormy night" from the 1830 novel 'Paul Clifford'.

The first year of the competition attracted just three entries, but it went public the following year, received media attention, and attracted 10,000 entries. There are now several subcategories, such as detective fiction, romance novels, Western novels, and purple prose. Sentences that are notable but not quite bad enough to merit the Grand Prize or a category prize are awarded Dishonorable Mentions.

The Grand Prize winner for 2015 is Joel Phillips from the USA with this opening:

"Seeing how the victim's body, or what remained of it, was wedged between the grill of the Peterbilt 389 and the bumper of the 2008 Cadillac Escalade EXT, officer "Dirk" Dirksen wondered why reporters always unsed the phrase "sandwiched" to describe such a scene since there was nothing apetizing about it, but still, he thought, they might have a point because some of this would probably end up on the front of his shirt."


McDonalds Track

Links to our Past - history -

McDonalds Track originally went from the Tobin Yallock Bridge (where the South Gippsland Highway crosses the Lang Lang River) to Morwell, and it followed the ridges of the Strzelecki Ranges and was about seventy miles (about 110kms) in length. You can see the start of the track as it is the first turn-off into Lang Lang on the Highway coming from Koo-Wee-Rup, then it went to Nyora and Poowong. Remnants of the track are still named on maps, around Poowong East, Mount Worth (the highest point of the original track) then there is another section around Childers, Thorpdale and Narracan.

The track was surveyed by Assistant-Surveyor George Thomas McDonald. He started in 1860 and it was finished in 1862. It was hoped that the track would provide an alternate route for stock to get from Gippsland to Melbourne. Once they got to Tobin Yallock they could then be shipped from Western Port Bay to Melbourne.  The Argus of January 1, 1863 published a report by McDonald of his progress and he was very confident that with the exception of a few places, a most excellent road may when cleared be had to Gipps Land....there are no creeks to cross, consequently no bridges will be required the ground is almost all good and firm, so that travelling may be performed with safety and comfort at all seasons of the year. The cost of clearing will be the chief item of expenditure, but that, together with the expense of making a few side cuttings ....should not exceed £10,000 pounds. Indeed for that sum I consider that thoroughly good road, one chain wide, could be made, which would be practical for travelling day or night. I specify a road one chain [20 metres] wide because the ridge for a large proportion of the distance would not admit of one wider, and in one or two places it cannot, without levelling, be made wider than forty-five or fifty feet [15 metres].  One of the greatest objections by the public to this road will be the scarcity of feed for stock but as the soil is generally good, I have little doubt that in the course of time hotel keepers along the road will clear and sow paddocks with grass for the accommodations of themselves and others.

Map of McDonalds Track. Source: Pack Tracks to Pastures: a history of Poowong District by Ross Hartnell (Poowong Centenary Committee, 1974) 

In the end the track was never used, apparently due to the fact that there were no permanent water holes along the route.  What else do we know about the Track? When McDonald created the track it was about seven foot (just over 2 metres) wide to Mount Worth and from there it ‘narrowed considerably’. All supplies and equipment had to come from Cranbourne. The area was steep, heavily  forested, some trees were 300 feet high  (about 90 metres) and often the surveying party found that they were following minor ridges and had to back track to the major ridge.  McDonald also reported that he had found coal seams along the track.

Sadly for McDonald his hopes of the route becoming a major road never eventuated and no hotel keepers ever came to provide accommodation and hospitality.  It was about 1874 that settlers began selecting land along the McDonalds Track around Poowong, and, by then, the reports were that the track was completely overgrown. Later settlers branched out from there to Poowong East and Poowong North. This area was also opened up by the establishment of a coach track from Poowong to Drouin after the Gippsland Railway was opened in 1878. The other local effect the Track had was the establishment of the township of Tobin Yallock.

The first store and hotel were built c.1867 by William Lyall (who owned Harewood) and located on part of the Tobin Yallock (or Torbinurruck) squatting run on the junction of McDonald’s Track and the South Gippsland Highway. This store and hotel became the nucleus of the town of Lang Lang, as it was officially known, though the locals called it Tobin Yallock. Tobin Yallock would eventually have a church, a Post Office, Mechanics’ Institute and other stores. Its decline began with the coming of the railway when the station, called Carrington (later known as Lang Lang), was built east of Tobin Yallock, in February 1890. By about 1894 most of the businesses and public buildings had transferred to the new Lang Lang based around the railway station.

What do we know of George Thomas McDonald? He came from Dumfries in Scotland and arrived in Victoria in 1853. According to the State Government Gazette he was employed in the Lands and Survey Office in August 1857 and was there until about 1879.  On November 24, 1869 he married Amelia Margaret Mitchell. He was listed in the marriage notice in The Argus as the District surveyor, Castlemaine District. Amelia was listed as the second daughter of the Hon W.H.F Mitchell. Sir William Mitchell was President of the Legislative Council. They had eight children  (not five as is incorrectly reported in Amelia's obituary, left) - Isabel born 1871; William born 1873; Christina born 1875 and died 1883; James born 1877, Allan born 1878; Thomas born 1880 and died 1881; George born 1882 and Sidney born 1885.  The first five were born in Victoria and then the last three were born in Queensland.

In spite of giving birth to eight children in 14 years, Amelia lived to the ripe old age of 95 and died in Brisbane in 1939. I have the impression that Amelia McDonald was a ‘good catch’ and perhaps George ‘married up’ as they used to say. Certainly in the report of her death in The Argus on July 25, 1939 (reproduced here) there is no mention her husband, only her illustrative father.

As the obituary states their daughter, Isabel, married Brigadier-General Cecil Foott. You can read his biography here on the Australian Dictionary of Biography website. Foott was born in Bourke in New South Wales and had a distinguished military career and retired to Beaconsfield Upper where he died in June 1942. Foott is buried in the Berwick Cemetery. He was in an unmarked grave until 2015 when the Narre Warren & District Family History Group discovered this whilst they were doing research into the World War One soldiers buried at the cemetery. The Family History Group, in conjunction with the R.S.L, unveiled a headstone on his grave on April 11, 2015.

Back to George Thomas McDonald - he died on February 3, 1915 aged 79. His death notice listed his address as ‘late of Rocklea and Gladstone districts’.  I can't find an obituary of him. I feel that he is a forgotten man in the history of Victoria, but now everytime you drive past McDonalds Track on the way down to Phillip Island or South Gippsland, then you will know a bit about the man behind the name.

The Queenslander  February 13, 1915

Much of the information about McDonald's survey of the the track comes from the Book - Pack Tracks to Pastures: a history of Poowong District by Ross Hartnell (Poowong Centenary Committee, 1974) 

Tom Houghton

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Tom Houghton by Todd Alexander 

As a boy growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Tom Houghton escapes the harshness of the schoolyard by cocooning himself in the cinema of the golden age of Hollywood.

When he discovers that his favourite actress, Katharine Hepburn, modelled herself on her brother, Thomas Houghton Hepburn, Tom sinks deeper into his fantasy life. Determined to reveal his true identity to the world, Tom is propelled on a torturous path with disastrous consequences.

Almost thirty years later, Tom is offered an acting role at a festival in Scotland. With the rigours of his past finally catching up with him, fantasy and reality struggle for control and Tom finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew about himself.

Who is Tom Houghton?

Why we love it: The more we get to know Tom Houghton, the more we like him, even in spite of his faults. Cleverly crafted and with characters that walk straight off the page, Todd Alexander's second novel is a masterpiece of self-discovery.

from the Team at Better Reading

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

Book Swamp -

The Big Bad Wolf decides it's time to turn his life around. He has a criminal record that includes, amongst other things, stealing nighties and slippers. He now wants to give up his evil ways and do good deeds. He teams up with a reluctant and dodgy group of friends who also have criminal backgrounds.

There's Mr Snake whose criminal status is deemed 'very dangerous'. Snake's nasty deeds include breaking and entering a pet store and eating mice, canaries, guinea pigs and a police dog.
His address is unknown and he has no known associates.

Next we have Mr Piranha who is part of a criminal gang which includes over 900,000 of his relatives. Piranha's address is the Amazon River and he is responsible for eating a large number of tourists.

Lastly but not leastly is Mr Shark. His nickname is Jaws and his status is 'ridiculously dangerous.'

This highly unlikely group, led by Mr Wolf, form a gang called the 'Good Guys Club'.
They decide that they will become heroes (actually Mr Wolf decides for them all).

Read what happens when a kitten becomes stuck up a tree, and when wolf comes up with the cunning and devious plan to rescue 200 dogs from the dog pound.

Put this book on your must read list!!

Great fun.


The Flywheel

Quicksand -

'The Flywheel
' is the debut novel of Sydney writer, Erin Gough.
It's a snapshot of life seen through the eyes of seventeen year old Delilah.

Due to a myriad of circumstances (parents have recently separated, father is currently on holidays, current manager of cafe has returned to Ireland) Del ends up running her father's cafe, the Flywheel. The situation is unstable and precarious; she hires Hamish who is lazy and uncooperative. 'Clearly my recruitment skills need some honing' bemoans Del.

On top of this Del is still at secondary school where she is bullied mercilessly for being gay.
Del is quite a character though-largely resilient and able to rise above the belittling attitudes of her school peers. Which is just as well.

And then there's the 'flamenco girl'-the beautiful Rosa who dances flamenco at the tapas bar across the road. Del has been watching Rosa for a long time but doesn't know how to approach her. Is it possible for her to confide her feelings for Rosa without the situation ending in disaster?

'The Flywheel' is a wonderful rollercoaster of a journey and as a reader you will get behind Del as she battles through the many obstacles that stand in her way. 

Recommended teen fiction.


Nowhere Boys

Quicksand -

'Nowhere Boys' by Elise McCredie is based on the hit TV series and soon to be released movie in 2016.

It's a terrific book that will appeal to many teenagers.

The story involves four teenagers.
Felix dresses in black, plays guitar and writes his own music.
Jake is popular and athletic and is something of a bully.
Sam seemingly has the perfect life: the ideal family situation and the gorgeous girlfriend.
Andy is the science nerd.

The four boys are grouped together for a school outdoor orienteering excursion.
Then weird things begin to happen. The become lost, and when they return to their homes things are not the same.
People can see and hear them but no one seems to know who they are. They begin to wonder if their families are better off without them.
Magic and supernatural events are at hand and it up to the boys to try and try and solve whatever is happening.

 After seeing part of the TV series and reading the book I can hardly wait for the much anticipated film release.

Highly recommended viewing and reading.



Notes from the Internet Apocalypse

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone

When the Internet suddenly stops working, society reels from the loss of flowing data, instant messages and streaming entertainment. Addicts wander the streets, talking to themselves in 140 characters or forcing cats to perform tricks for their amusement, while the truly desperate pin their requests for casual encounters on public bulletin boards. The economy tumbles further and the government passes the draconian NET Recovery Act. 

For Gladstone, the Net's disappearance comes particularly hard following the loss of his wife, leaving his flask of Jamesons and grandfather's fedora as the only comforts in his Brooklyn apartment. But there are rumors that someone in New York is still online. Someone set apart from this new world where Facebook flirters "poke" each other in real life and members of Anonymous trade memes at secret parties. Where a former librarian can sell information as a human search engine, and the perverted fulfill their secret fetishes at the blossoming Rule 34 club. 

With the help of his friends, a blogger and a webcam girl both now out of work, Gladstone sets off to find the Internet. But is he the right man to save humanity from this Apocalypse? For fans of David Wong, Chad Kultgen, and Chuck Palahniuk, this book examines the question ~ What is life without the Web?

The story is told in the form of a journal which Gladstone keeps as he and his friends try to find out what happened to the internet.  They must negotiate New Yorks' new found perils, such as internet junkies known as "zombies" who aimlessly walk the streets searching for the life they have lost; Reddit groups who congregate on street corners to wax lyrical on their favourite subject, and a real life "Jeeves" who claims to have all the answers.  And of course there is porn.  Without the internet, the porn industry experiences an unprecedented renaissance.

The book poses some interesting questions about how we have come to rely so heavily on the internet, and what it has replaced.  The author acknowledges how much we have gained, but also points out that there is much we have lost.

The Patterson Girls

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mother’s death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.

The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown; violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career; while teacher Lucinda is struggling
to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.

Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves, old and new, and a series of troublesome decisions doesn’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover a shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew.

A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.

Rachael Johns is Australia's top selling Rural Romance novelist, but with this book she takes a bit of a diversion from her normal style of writing. It is the story of four very different Patterson sisters who all return home to celebrate Christmas with their father after the loss of their mother earlier that year. Two of the sisters live overseas, one in Melbourne and one in Perth. I loved the story of each of the sisters - one a teacher, one a doctor, one a violinist and the other a self-described under-achiever!! As the four sisters sort out their mother's belongings they discover a reference to a Patterson curse. They eventually find out what this means from their Aunt Mags, which then becomes a catalyst that turns each of their lives upside down.

This story is told from their individual perspectives and is a story of relationships, secrets, loss and of course there is a bit of romance thrown in there as well. This story will appeal to all lovers of romance and family sagas as well as women's fiction. I absolutely loved this book, and I hope the author is going to write a sequel in the future as there are storylines that I would like to know more about!


PS:  We were lucky enough recently to host Rachael Johns at Narre Warren library where she spoke about her writing journey and had a Q & A session with the fans who came along.

The Patterson Girls is available to borrow on e-book, audiobook, e-audiobook and print.

Rachael [left] with Janine.

Yallock Honour Roll

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

The Yallock Roll of Honour is at the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society. It is pictured here. It has 29 names on it.

There is an article in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun of July 31, 1918 about the unveiling of the Honour Roll on Wednesday, July 24 1918 by the Hon A. Downward, M.L.A. The Board is described as "this specimen is a particularly fine one and contains the honored names and photographs of 57 local boys. The date of enlistment is also given. The Board is of Australian blackwood and is the work of Mr. W.J Tiller of Little Collins Street, Melbourne"

You can access the article about the Honour Board unveiling here

Obviously the Board at the Historical Society is not the original Honour Board and it must have been re-created at a later time and they didn't know all the original names. I wonder what happened to the original Honour Board?

What follows is a list of the soldiers taken from the Honour Board and the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article,  their fate (i.e. when they Returned to Australia after active service or when they were Killed in Action) and their Service Number (SN) -so you can look up their full service record on the National Archives website (www.naa.gov.au).  When I talk about the Honour Board, I am referring to the one pictured here; when I talk about the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article I am referring to the one published July 31, 1918. I have also used an article called "Familes at Yallock" written by H.J. Boxshall, which is published in the book The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson.

Angus, William (SN 2101)   William Angus enlisted on July 22, 1915, at the age of 26. He was Killed in Action in France on August 26, 1916.  His next of kin was listed as his aunt, Mrs A. Yeaman of Wonthaggi. Annie Yeaman is in the Electoral Roll at Yallock in  1903 and Mr Boxshall says that a J.Yeaman, who was an Engine Driver, lived on Fincks Road, so I believe that this William's Yallock connection.

This is Ann Yeaman's notice of Probate for William's will published in the Powlett Express on April 27, 1917.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page14974879

Bateson, Archibald Clarence (SN 4735) Arch was born in Yallock and he joined the Navy on April 23, 1915 when he was 16. His next of kin was his mother, Mary. He remained in the Navy until April 1924. Arch is the brother of George, below.
Bateson, George (SN 1307)   George was born in New Zealand and he enlisted on November 10, 1914  at the age of 21. His next of kin was his father, Elias Bateson of Yannathan. George Returned to  Australia on December 30, 1918. Mr Boxshall writes that Mr Elias Bateson was a member of the first School Committee and donated land for the Methodist Church. 
Boxshall, Albert Victor (SN 3481)  Bert enlisted on July 7, 1915 at the age of 29. He was a  Tram Conductor. He Returned to Australia on May 8, 1919.  Bert was the son of Thomas Boxshall, whose obituary from the Lang Lang Guardian appears below. He is also the brother of Henry John Boxshall who wrote the "Families at Yallock" paper.

Thomas Boxshall's obituary from the Lang Lang Guardian of October 17, 1917.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page13334125
Casey, George Henry  (SN 2603)  Known as Harry, he enlisted on July 16, 1915 aged 28. He was born in Drouin and was a teamster.   Harry Returned to Australia on April 13, 1919.  Casey, John Alfred (SN 2593)  John enlisted on July 13, 1915, three days before his brother George. He was a 20 year old farmer, born in Lang Lang. John was  Killed in Action in France on August 23, 1918.    Casey, Victor  (SN 57423) Victor was born in Lang Lang and was 18 years old and a farmer when he enlisted on January 5, 1918. Victor  Returned to Australia on July 17, 1919.  George, John and Henry  were the sons of George and Lydia (nee Gardner) Casey of Yannathan.  

Coates,  Benjamin Wilson  (SN Depot) Benjamin enlisted on October 5, 1918 and was discharged on Christmas Eve 1918 as the war had ended. He was a 21 year farmer from Yallock.
Coates, Lawrence (SN 2623a) Laurence enlisted on July 19, 1915 aged 21. He was born in Koo-Wee-Rup. Laurence was Killed in Action in France on August 18, 1916. Benjamin and Laurence were the sons of Laurence and Mary Jane (nee Wilson) Coates of  Yallock. 

Collyer, John Clements Leslie (SN 1018)  Known as Les, he  enlisted September 15, 1914 at the age of 19. His next of kin was his father, Eli Collyer of Yallock. He suffered a number of wounds including a bullet wound to the left hip and he Returned to Australia on March 11, 1916 and was discharged on medical grounds.
Collyer, Russell.   Russell is listed in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article but I can not find him on the National Archives or War Memorial sites. I believe this is Stanley Russell Collyer who was born in 1899 to Eli and Francis Collyer and thus he was a brother of Les, above.

Crespin, Frederick Legassick (SN 26791) Fred was 42 and a widower with four children when he enlisted on March 18, 1916. According to Mr Boxshall, Fred was a share farmer at Quamby for  a few years prior to 1914...he was an accomplished organist and piano player....and a good cricketer and captained the local Eleven during his stay at Yallock....on his return from the War he was unable to take up farming again owing to failing health and was given employment in the Land's Office in Melbourne. Fred Returned to Australia on August 24, 1918.

Davies, D  The Honour Roll lists a D. Davies and the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article lists a D. Davis. This is probably Douglas James Davies (SN  1524) who enlisted on March 21, 1916 aged 20. He was living in Rossiter Road in Koo-Wee-Rup at the time, with his mother, Ellen, who was his next of kin. Douglas Returned to Australia on June 12, 1919.
De Forest, Gilbert (51347) Gilbert was a 32 year old farmer from Monomeith when he enlisted on December 27, 1917. His next of kin was his wife, Margaret.  He Returned to Australia on June 19, 1919.    Gilbert is incorrectly listed in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun list as G.D. Forrest. 

De Little, John Cyril (SN 220) John enlisted on July 17, 1915 aged 23. He was  a farmer and his next of kin was his father Edward Vernon de Little of Koo-Wee-Rup. John was Killed in Action in France on October 10, 1916.  John is incorrectly listed in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article as J.D. Little. 

 Lang Lang Guardian December 13, 1916http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119514147
Donaldson, Norman Stanley ( SN 84)  Norman enlisted on August 18. 1914 aged 22.  He was living in Elsternwick and his father, John Walter Donaldson, was his next of kin. Norman Returned to Australia on July 12, 1919. What was his Yallock connection? He was the son of John Walter and Mary Jane (nee Waring) Donaldson and a Mary J. Donaldson  owned land at Yallock according to the Cranbourne Shire Rate Books in the early 1910s. There is a report in the Lang Lang Guardian of June 24, 1914 about Mrs Donaldson selling her Finck's Road property. There is also a Walter R Donaldson owning land in the Rate Books at Yallock - this may the W. Donaldson, a brick layer referred to by Mr Boxshall. This is, I believe, Walter Rehm Donaldson who is in the Electoral Roll at Koo-Wee-Rup in 1914. His wife, Leah Agnes (nee Robinson) is listed at Yallock. Not sure how these families are connected.

 Cranbourne Shire Rate Books, 1912.

Finck, Louis William  (SN 339)  Listed as W. Finck on the Honour Roll. William enlisted on July 10, 1915 aged 22. His next of kin was his father, Louis, of Yallock. William Returned to Australia on April 13, 1919. Finck's Road is named after the family. 

Franklin,  Leslie (SN 878)  I am not one hundred per cent sure who this is - there were five  Leslie Franklins who enlisted, three are from New South Wales; the other Victorian one was Killed in Action and we know that 'our' Les survived the War, so by eliminating those four, it just leaves this Leslie - but I have not as yet found a connection to the area. He possibly worked locally or had lived there with his parents when they were alive as his next of kin was listed as his grandfather, John Franklin of Yea.  Les enlisted on March 24, 1915 aged 19. He was born in Yea, he was a labourer. Whilst he was overseas he married Margaret McKay in Scotland on May 24, 1919. He Returned to Australia on November 7, 1919. 

Harker, George Ernest (SN 3840)  George enlisted on December 6, 1915 aged 21. His next of kin was his father, Thomas, of Yallock. George was awarded the Military Medal and he Returned to Australia on April 13, 1919. George was the brother of Robert and William, listed below.
Harker, Robert Herd (SN 345) Robert  enlisted on July 19, 1915 at the age of 28 and was Killed in Action in France, one year later, on July 20 1916.
Harker, William Thomas (SN 16235)  William enlisted at the age of 34 in January 1916 and was discharged as medically unfit in February 1917, he then enlisted again on July 2, 1917, served overseas and Returned to Australia on May 6, 1919. William had been born in Quorn in South Australia, his brothers were born in Dandenong.

Hatty, David Samuel (SN 279)  Known as Sam, enlisted at the age of 22 on August 25, 1914. He served overseas and Returned to Australia on March 8, 1917 and was medically discharged as he suffered from chronic rheumatism.Hatty, George Frederick (SN 66) George enlisted March 27, 1916 at the age of 21. George was Killed in Action in Belgium on October 12, 1917.Hatty, Thomas Alfred ( SN 5607) Thomas enlisted on November 25, 1914 when he was 24. He Returned to Australia on February 19, 1919.
The Hatty boys were the sons of William and Jessie Augusta Hatty and the family was living in Timboon when they enlisted. According to the Electoral Rolls they had previously lived in Yallock for a number of years.

Henry, Robert (SN 344) Robert enlisted on July 8, 1915 at the age of  19. His next of kin was his father, William Henry of 'Grassmere', Yallock. Robert was reported missing in July 1916 and had been captured by the Germans. He was released when the War ended, repatriated to England and Returned to Australia on March 2, 1919.
Izzard, Horace Valentine (SN 373) Horace enlisted on February 22, 1915 aged one month off 28 years. He Returned to Australia on March 9, 1919. Izzard, Ralph Charles (SN 2636)  Ralph enlisted on June 9, 1915 aged 22. He served overseas and Returned to Australia on November 12, 1916 and was discharged in February 1917 as medically unfit, it mentioned in his record that he suffered from rheumatism.
Horace and Ralph were the sons of Charles Izzard  of Yallock. Mr Boxshall writes that Charles was a saddler and the Secretary of the first Yallock Progress Association. 

Jones, John Owen (SN 2674) John enlisted on August 2, 1915 at the age of  26, he was a miner and his next of kin was his mother, Marian, of Campbell Street in Wonthaggi. He suffered a severe gun shot wound to the right thigh in  France on April 24, 1918 and Returned to Australia on December 24, 1918 and was medically discharged in June 1919. I believe that this is the correct record even though John's record does not directly link him to Yallock. There is a J. Jones listed in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article and Mr Boxshall writes that Mr J. Jones was a saddler by trade and had land in Hall Road. The 1909 Electoral Rolls show a John William Jones, Marian Jones and Maud Jones at Yallock and an article in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of August 24, 1911 says that Mr W. Jones has sold his farm at Yallock and intends settling in Wonthaggi. Based on all that I believe that we have the correct J. Jones.  

Joseph, J   This man is listed on the Honour Board. The only J. Joseph listed is from New South Wales.   There is a Joseph Josephs on the Electoral Roll at Yannathan in 1909 - this is possibly the same person (slight difference in surname)  or some connection. There is a James Rolphes Joseph (SN 2608) - next of kin is father James Josephs of Prahran and there is also a Joseph Isaac Josephs (SN 3824) - next of kin is Clare Letitia Cutts of Ringwood. He was 27 when he enlisted on July 13, 1915, so would have been around 21 in 1909 and thus old enough to be on the Electoral Roll.  I tend to think that the J. Joseph on the Honour Board  is Joseph Isaac Josephs. Joseph was discharged on medical grounds, due to rhuematism on December 3, 1917 having Returned to Australia on August 25  of the same year.

Kenny, Harry Phillip (SN Depot)  Harry enlisted on June 29, 1915 aged 29. He was born in Yallock and his next of kin was his father, Harry Kenny, of Nar Nar Goon. Harry was discharged on October 9, 1915 as medically unfit due to the loss of the index finger on the right hand. A report in his record said the finger  accident happened around October 1914 in Poowong when it was cut off by an axe. Harry was recommended for Home Services. 

Leeson, Alfred Ernest (SN 485) Alfred was 22 when he enlisted on November 1, 1915. He Returned to Australia on March 16, 1919.
Leeson, Arthur Leslie (SN 4797) Arthur enlisted on July 13, 1915 at the age of 28. He Returned to Australia on May 29, 1919.Leeson, Claude Albert (SN 3103) Claude enlisted on October 5, 1916 aged 18 years old. He Died of Wounds (a gun shot wound to the skull) in Belgium on October 18, 1917.
The Leeson boys were the sons of  Arthur and Mary Leeson of Yannathan; Arthur had already died at the time of their enlistment.  They were all born locally - Alf in Clyde, Claude in Caldermeade and Arthur's birth place is listed as Monham Heath, but I believe this is actually Monomeith. The Koo-Wee-Rup Sun list has an R. Leeson - this is possibly a mistake, as they don't list Arthur.

Light, Alfred Percy (SN 5042) Alf was a 29 year old butter maker when he enlisted on January 27, 1916. He Returned to Australia on December 4, 1918.Light, Norman  (SN 1958)  Norman was 26 when he enlisted on March 15, 1916. He suffered a gun shot wound to his right leg, whilst fighting in France, and it fractured his tibia. He Returned to Australia on March 16, 1918 and was medically discharged in the November. Light, Thomas Reuben (SN 1959) Thomas enlisted the same day as his brother, Norman. He was 27 and eleven months  old and was discharged as being medically unfit on July 3, 1916. 
Alf, Norman, and Thomas were the sons of Thomas and Maria Light.  Maria, address Yallock, was the next of kin listed for Norman and Thomas. The father, Thomas, was the next of kin listed for Alf - the address at the time was Tarwin Lower.

Lineham, William James (SN 2711)  William enlisted on July 19 1915 aged 20.  His next of kin were his parents, Benjamin and Eliza Lineham of Yannathan. He was born in Clyde.  William Returned to Australia on April 13, 1919. 

McGhee, Donald Malachi  (SN 3416)  Donald is listed in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article as Malachi M'Gee and also listed on the Honour Roll as M. McGhee but he is listed in the Victoria Births Index as Donald Malachi, born in 1895 to John and Margaret (nee Johnston) at Heath Hill. The address was Northcote at the time of enlistment, however his brother David Johnston McGhee was living at Yallock in 1914 according to the Electoral Rolls. Donald or Malachi was 19 when enlisted on June 24, 1915 and was Killed in Action in France on July 19, 1916.
McGhee, Gordon General (SN 22949) Gordon was the brother of Donald Malachi and he enlisted at the age of 23 on October 27, 1915. Gordon Returned to Australia on May 12, 1919. Gordon is listed on the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article as Rawdon M'Gee - not sure where the Rawdon name came from, but is on the Honour Board as G. McGhee.

McPhee, Charles Carey (SN 422) Charles was a Methodist Home Missionary and he enlisted at the age of 29 on May 10, 1916. He was reported missing in France in April 1918 and became a 'Prisoner of War in German hands'. He was released after the War and Returned to Australia on February 10, 1919. Charles has been stationed at the Methodist Mission at Yallock before his appointment.

Lang Lang Guardian February 23, 1916http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page13333765
O'Donnell, D According to the list in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun there was a D. O'Donnell who served in the War. This was likely to be a brother of Joseph and Michael (see below) as there is correspondence from Joseph, dated March 1918,  in Michael's file asking about the whereabouts of Michael as they had lost touch as 'we had parted for about five years'  and it also mentions 'my youngest brother' who was serving in France.  I haven't worked out who he is.
O'Donnell, Joseph Daniel (SN 3602) Joseph enlisted on September 17, 1915 aged 25. His next of kin was his father, M. O'Donnell of Koo-Wee-Rup and he was also born in Koo-Wee-Rup. He Returned to Australia on September 26, 1917 and had 'severe corns on the sole of the left foot'.  Joseph was listed as Michael's  next of kin, after he returned home because their father 'could not be traced'.
O'Donnell, Michael Alexander (SN 730) Michael enlisted at the age of 25 on November 27, 1914.He was born in Ballarat.  He had a colourful military history with a range of disciplinary issues. He received  a gun shot wound to his shoulder, suffered a fractured skull and Died of Wounds on July 17 1918.  Michael was living in Sydney when he enlisted but his next of kin was his father,  Michael James O'Donnell of Yannathan. Michael's will, in his file at the  National Archives has the family's address as Yallock. 

Pretty, Albert George (SN 6944)  Albert enlisted on March 9, 1917 at the age of 23. His next of kin was his father, Frederick Matthew Pretty of Yallock. He was promoted to a Lieutenant. Albert was a Military Clerk who served in England and France. When you read all the military records you realise what a massive administrative task it must have been to keep all the records up to date. Albert Returned to Australia on October 30, 1919. There is a W. Pretty listed on the Honour Roll, but I believe this is a mistake as I can't find any other Prettys with a local connection apart from Albert.

Rietschel, Arthur William John  Rietschel, Percy George Oscar  
Mr Boxshall has O.W Reitchel living at Fincks Road - he was a bricklayer; the Honour Roll has A. Reitschel and P. Reitschel and the 1914 Electoral Roll has Arthur and Percy Rietschel listed at Wonthaggi, so that's three different spellings on the surname.  Arthur (b. 1888) and Percy (b. 1889) are the sons of Otto William and Helen (nee O'Neil) Rietschel, I think that's the correct spelling. Helen is in the Electoral Roll at Yallock in 1905 and 1906 and then I can't find her and I believe Otto died in 1901. This is what I do know, what I don't know are any enlistment details - I cannot find them anywhere.
Ridgway, Mark (SN 449) Mark was born in Lang Lang and he was a 23 year old Buttermaker when he enlisted on February 11, 1915. His next of kin was his father, William Ridgway of 'Hazeldean', Lang Lang. In the 1914 Electoral Roll, he was living in Yannathan. Mark received  a gun shot wound to his knee and his tibia and fibula were fractured. He Returned to Australia on September 9, 1916 and was medically discharged on March 30, 1917.

Sanders, Robert Oliver  (SN 13170)  Robert enlisted on August 7, 1916 at the age of 23 years, 11 months. His occupation was chauffeur, and as might be expected, he joined the Auxiliary Mechanical Transport Company. His address at enlistment was Monomeith and he was born in London and his next of kin was his father, who lived in England.  Robert was demobilized in England on October 31, 1919. There is an R. Saunders listed in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article, but I can't locate anyone of that name with a local connection, so I believe it should have been R. Sanders. 

Savage, Leslie Hardwick (SN 50459)  Leslie was 24 when he enlisted on December 14, 1917.He Returned to Australia on January 19, 1919.  He was born at Poowong and his next of kin was his father, Francis Savage of Yallock.  

A report from the Lang Lang Guardian of March 23, 1918 about the farewell give to Les Savage and Victor Casey at the Yallock Hall. It was actually Victor Casey (SN 57423) not G. Casey who enlisted at this time. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page13334217

Scharf, Alfred (SN 962) Alfred was a 26 year old carpenter when he enlisted on January 18, 1915. Alfred was Killed in Action in France on August 24, 1916.
Scharf, Richard Albert (SN 7961)  Richard was 19, a shop fitter and he enlisted on July 13, 1915. He Died of Wounds received whilst fighting in France on May 1, 1917.
Alfred and Richard were the sons of Henry and Liselle (nee Fritz) Scharf. Mr Boxshall writes that Henry Scharf was a carpenter and had left Germany to escape militarism. They lived on Finck's Road at Yallock, although they were in St Kilda Road, Elsternwick when the boys enlisted.

Scott, BertScott, Ray  Bert and Ray, who both died in the War,  are listed on the Honour Roll and in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article.  I just can't find them on any list. I assume they are brothers - I have an Albert Scott (SN 3257) and a Herbert Scott (7561) both with a connection to Ensay and the sons of William and Kathleen (nee Leonard) Scott, but their next of kin was their sister, Mrs Ruby Murrell of Ensay, it may be them, but I can find no connection to the Yallock area. They were both Killed in Action in France, Albert on July 29, 1916 and Herbert on June 8, 1918.There are four soldiers with the surname Scott who have Raymond as a first or middle name and there are 98 soldiers with a surname of Scott who have Albert, Bert, Herbert or Robert as a first or middle name but none have any obvious connection to Yallock. Any help appreciated.

Sherriff, Alfred (SN 2994) Alf enlisted on May 23, 1916 at the age of 36. He was a farmer from Lang Lang and his next of kin was his wife,Sarah Janet Sherriff (nee Richardson)  He Returned to Australia on January 2, 1919 and was discharged from the Army as medically unfit in March 1919 due to Rheumatism and Functional Dyspepsia. The 1917 Electoral Roll lists Alf and Sarah at Yannathan, so I presume that was the Yallock connection.

Smith, Bert  Bert is listed on the Honour Roll as having died in the War. There are about 90 Albert,Bert, Herbert and Robert Smiths who died during the War and I can't find any obvious connection to the area. There is also a B. Smith on the Cora Lynn War Memorial and I believe it may be the same person - Smith, Beith.  (SN 1436)  His first name was also listed as Bert and Berth in some documents but I believe that Beith is correct. He was Killed in Action May 9 or May 10 in 1915 at Gallipoli.  Beith enlisted at Tynong on September 21, 1914. at the age of 19.  The Attesting Officer was William Carney, Shire of Berwick President, so that proves he was in the local area, so he may have worked at Yallock as well. His occupation was listed as a labourer. He was born at Rochford, near Kyneton and that is where his father lived. Any ideas as to who this is, I would love to hear from you.

Stephens, James Bennett (SN 2367)  James enlisted at the age of 21 on August 7, 1916. His occupation was Drover. His next of kin was his father, Francis Stephens of Yallock. James was Killed in Action in Belgium on October 4, 1917. James is listed as J. Stevens on the Honour Roll.

Ware, Charles William Francis (SN 3285a) Charles enlisted at the age of 23 on July 27, 1915. He was employed on the Railways. He suffered a severe gun shot wound to his right buttock and Returned to Australia on March 17, 1917 and was discharged for medical reasons on July 9, 1917. His next of kin was his mother Mrs Christina Wilson Ware who lived at Kongwak.   His father was Charles Joseph Ware. 

Lang Lang Guardian July 25, 1917http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119514561
Charles was welcomed home at a function in Yallock held on July 12 1917 at the Public Hall and he sent the letter above to the Lang Lang Guardian thanking the residents for the home coming. 

Wright, John William (SN 646) John enlisted on September 24, 1914 aged 21. He was born in Yannathan and his next of kin was his mother, Isabella. John Returned to Australia on October 26, 1918. He was the brother of Marmaduke Wright, below. 
Wright, Marmaduke George (SN 703) Listed as G. Wright on the Honour Board and Duke Wright in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun article, so we'll call him Duke.  Duke was the son of George and Isabella Wright, who lived in Hall Road, Yallock, although the 1909 Electoral Roll has their address as Yannathan, once again it seems that both names were used interchangeably. Duke was born in Koo-Wee-Rup and he enlisted on February 23, 1916 aged 20. Isabella was his next of kin and she was living in Shepparton East, she was there when John enlisted as well. Duke Returned to Australia on January 25, 1919.

Sweet Wattle Creek

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Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie 

In the years following the Great Depression, Belle Bartholomew arrives in the rural Victorian town of Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a decrepit hotel once owned by Martha Ambrose in the early 1900s. Belle is determined to solve the mystery surrounding her birth and find out why the hotel was bequeathed to her. However, she runs into opposition from the locals who want to keep the town’s secrets under wraps.

In the 1980s, journalist Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering an antique wedding dress. But as the Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary approaches, Sophie’s own past catches up with her. She must find out who exactly Belle and Martha were and uncover the link between the two women…

Why We Love It: Kaye Dobbie’s Sweet Wattle Creek is an intriguing story of three women that kept us turning the pages and wondering what was coming next. It’s a masterfully woven tale that transports us back in time to the turn of the nineteenth century, to the 1930s, and takes us forward again to the 1980s. 

from the Team at Better Reading

The Fish Ladder

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The Fish Ladder: a journey upstream by Katherine Norbury

Katharine Norbury was abandoned as a baby in a Liverpool convent. Raised by a loving adoptive family, she grew into a wanderer, drawn by the landscape of the British countryside.

One summer, following the miscarriage of a much-longed-for child, Katharine sets out—accompanied by her nine-year-old daughter, Evie - with the idea of following a river from the sea to its source. The luminously observed landscape grounds the walkers, providing both a constant and a context to their expeditions. But what begins as a diversion from grief evolves into a journey to the source of life itself: a life threatening illness forces Katharine to seek a genetic medical history, and this new and unexpected path delivers her to the door of the woman who abandoned her all those years ago.

Combining travelogue, memoir, exquisite nature writing, and fragments of poems with tales from Celtic mythology, The Fish Ladder has a rare emotional resonance. It is a portrait of motherhood, of a literary marriage, a hymn to the adoptive family, but perhaps most of all it is an exploration of the extraordinary majesty of the natural world. Imbued with a keen and joyful intelligence, this original and life-affirming book is set to become a classic of its genre. 

Although the beginning to this story took a while to draw me in, I’m so glad that I stayed with it. The writing meanders and flows just like the crystal streams that Katherine follows. Gently and beautifully, landscape and people intersect. Katherine Norbury is able to focus on the minutiae of her surroundings and to describe all her journeys perfectly. If you enjoy biographies, nature or the Northern English/Scottish environment then I can highly recommend this book. I listened to the e-audio book which is read quietly and evocatively by the author. 


The Heart Goes Last

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The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood 

Stan and Charmaine are left homeless by an economic downtown in the near future. They roam the dangerous roads of America, living out of their car, avoiding robbery, gang rape, even murder, and scrounging a meagre living any way they can. When they see a television ad at the bar where Charmaine works, promising hope of a safe life in a controlled new society, Charmaine can’t resist the lure of soft, white towels and hot running water.

Once inside though, reality is not quite so wonderful as the TV images portrayed. Charmaine has a job ‘dealing with’ the unsavoury elements in the perfect world of Positron and its alternate world, Consilience. Stan’s job is to tend the chickens that help to feed the residents of this supposedly utopian society. One month they live in their neat suburban house and on alternate months they go into the Positron ‘prison’, a system that makes everything run smoothly, according to the propaganda.

Why we love it: Margaret Atwood is at her best in this stunning novel about a crazy, dystopian world. The Heart Goes Last is a horrifying, funny and honest look at what humans will do to survive at any cost.

from the team at Better Reading

Wrong Way Round

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Wrong Way Round by Lorna Hendry

When Lorna Hendry, her husband James and young kids left Melbourne on a one-year trip around Australia in a 4WD with a camper trailer (having only been camping once before they left), they ignored all advice and drove across the Nullarbor and up the west coast of Australia. They may have been travelling the wrong way around Australia, but it was the best decision they ever made. 

Lorna returned to Melbourne three years later, having crossed deserts and rivers, taken ill-advised short cuts in the most remote areas of the country, stood on the western edge and the northern tip of the country, stumbled onto its geographic centre, and lived in remote communities in Western Australia. 

Wrong Way Round is a story about four people who had to get out of the city to become a family. It's about this beautiful and harsh country. And it's about the adventures that you can have if you step outside of your door and turn left instead of right.

The map at the start of the book shows the family's travels and they are truly epic.They left home in Fitzroy and headed towards the Coorong in South Australia learning as they went. Putting up their campervan, annexe and tent was one learning experience as was trying to fill the requirements of the correspondence school curriculum for their boys. They learnt as they went along and by the end of their first year had become seasoned travellers. One year turned into three as they worked in the far north of Western Australia, visited new places and tried to never take the same road twice.  An enjoyable and easy read that is as much about family as it is about travelling around our country. 


Beneath the Skin

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Beneath the Skin by Nicci French

Zoe, Jennifer and Nadia are three women with nothing in common ... Except for the man who wants to kill them. He sends them terrifying letters, full of the intimate details of their lives, and promises that he will bring those lives to a violent, horrible end. But not before he has enjoyed himself. Invisible and apparently unstoppable, he delights in watching the women suffer, thrilled by his power to leave them utterly helpless, alone in their terror and confusion. Except they're not all as helpless as he thinks.

The book is in three parts with each section devoted to one woman’s story.  They are wildly different people – in age, circumstance, looks and personalities and it’s this thread that has us (and the police) mulling over what common denominator would attract a killer.  

I’ve read a few other titles from the married writing team of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Their psychological thrillers are usually pretty good and this is definitely one of the better ones as it has a couple of unique offerings … One: Jennifer’s killer is declared in Part 2.  But it’s a three part story so what’s left to say?  Plenty.  And two: the crime squad investigating the murders is shown quite blatantly to be not exactly bumbling but definitely inept and inadequate.  This is a ‘French’ trait that has cropped up before in their books, particularly in ‘Losing You’ where the main character seethes with rage and frustration at police procedure. 

Sometimes you can tell which team member has written which chapter (particularly noticeable in Secret Smile published in 2003) but no so in this title.  The suspense underpins most of the story pretty much up until the end, and, in this Bolinda audio version downloaded from our catalogue, is helped even further by a first-class narration from Julie Maisey.  We have this title in all print and audio formats.  



Those Girls

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Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
From the cover:  Life has never been easy for the three Campbell sisters. Jess, Courtney and Dani live on a remote ranch where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s temper. One night, a fight gets out of hand and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. 

As events spiral out of control, they find themselves in a horrifying situation and are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives. Eighteen years later, they are still trying to forget what happened to them. But when one of the sisters goes missing, followed closely by her niece, they are pulled back into the past. And this time there’s nowhere left to run….

This is a gripping tale and not for the faint-hearted! The violence endured by these three sisters is unspeakable and hard to read at times. Chevy Stevens just has a knack of weaving a most intriguing tale which you don’t want to put down despite the horrific situations that unfold. It is a tale of bravery, strength, resilience and love.

~ Narelle

The Secret River

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The Secret River by Kate Grenville

After a childhood of poverty and petty crime in the slums of London, William Thornhill is sentenced in 1806 to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and children in tow, he arrives in a harsh land that feels at first like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a whisper that freedom can be bought, an opportunity to start afresh. 

Away from the infant township of Sydney, up the Hawkesbury River, Thornhill encounters men who have tried to do just that: Blackwood, who is attempting to reconcile himself with the place and its people, and Smasher Williams, whose fear of this alien world turns into brutal depravity towards it. As Thornhill and his family stake their claim on a patch of ground by the river, the battle lines between old and new inhabitants are drawn. 

I was drawn to read this book after watching the beautiful and touching three-part drama on TV. Secret River is about early encounters the settlers had with the Aboriginals of the Hawksebury River. In the early days an uneasy but tolerant relationship evolves from both cultures. William is clearly torn whether to be tolerant or dismissive of the original owners.  Eventually Thornhill is pressed to decide when the original owners decide to burn his corn crop. The decision Thornhill makes affects him and his family for the rest of their lives. This book is a moving detailed description of how tough life on the land was for ex convicts, and gives some insight into the atrocities the original inhabitants may have endured at the time. It is also a stunning narrative of the alien Australian landscape that William Thornhill comes to love. Available in regular and large print, audio and e-book.


The Perfumer's Secret

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The Perfumer's Secret by Fiona McIntosh 

On the eve of the First World War, Fleurette, the only daughter of the wealthy Delacroix perfume dynasty, is being forced to marry a man she loathes, Aimery De Lasset, head of the pre-eminent perfume manufacturer in France. It is only the cathedral bells tolling the rally to the frontlines that save her from sharing his bed. When she receives an unexpected letter from Aimery's estranged brother, Fleurette is left holding a terrible secret, and the sparks of a powerful passion. Her discoveries risk shattering the two families and their perfume empires, bringing tragedy down on them all. This novel is an intoxicating feast for the senses, a highly sensual and sensational story of deception, duty and desire.

Why we love it: The Perfumer's Secret is a romance for the senses. In her signature style, Fiona McIntosh weaves together history and fiction, transporting us to wartime France with her vivid descriptions of the scents that shape her heroine’s life, for better or for worse.

from the Team at Better Reading


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