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An American in Oz

Reading Rewards - reviews -

An American in Oz by Sara James.

"No one thought Sara James, a seasoned NBC TV correspondent and Manhattanite through and through, would move to Australia after a long and successful fast-track career reporting from around the globe. But move she did, when her Australian husband Andrew wanted to go home, in a journey that sees her morph from a big-city anchor to a small-town mum living an Australian country life.

It is an odyssey filled with drama and adventure, both personal and professional, intentional and accidental. We see Australia through a New Yorker's eyes, and follow Sara's adventures as she faces head-on the challenges of everyday life in a new country with two children, one of whom has special needs.

We laugh with her as she drives on the other side of the road, grapples with the Australian vernacular and its penchant for understatement, and ponders the prevalence of local wildlife that could kill. We cheer for her when she sets up the NBC Australasian bureau at her home in the Wombat Forest, reporting from a specially constructed sound booth in the garage, located between her husband's Mustang and the shed. Most of all, we see a mother, a wife, and a reporter determined to create a new home for her family."

I absolutely loved this memoir. I laughed in parts and almost cried in others. Its hard enough moving halfway across the world and leaving all your friends and family behind, let alone understanding the Aussie lingo, driving on the opposite side of the road, and dealing with a daughter with a disability.

Sara knows no one in the Macedon area and with her daughter she commutes to and from inner-city Melbourne to drive her to a special school. Of course finding friends is always a challenge, so she joins a midweek ladies tennis team and the results of that had me laughing out loud!!

How the family dealt with the devastating 2009 bush fires and the Australian wildlife and fitting into a new community was inspiring. We have this book available as an e-book as well as a hardcover.

~ Janine

The Anchoress

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The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

Set in the twelfth century, The Anchoress tells the story of Sarah, only seventeen when she chooses to become an anchoress, a holy woman shut away in a small cell, measuring seven paces by nine, at the side of the village church. Fleeing the grief of losing a much-loved sister in childbirth and the pressure to marry, she decides to renounce the world, with all its dangers, desires and temptations, and to commit herself to a life of prayer and service to God. But as she slowly begins to understand, even the thick, unforgiving walls of her cell cannot keep the outside world away, and it is soon clear that Sarah's body and soul are still in great danger.

This book has a sparse narrative that describes Sarah's life as it is entwined with the lives of the peasant women who serve her meals and relate village life to her. The simplicity of the novel has sensuousness to it. The reader gets inside the head of the young girl with her efforts to ward off sinful thoughts and concentrate on devotion, instead of the gossip of the village and the attentions of the local Lord who sponsors her internment. Its simplicity lets us see the beauty in the everyday through smell, touch and reflection. This debut novel is a beautifully researched book from an academic who first read about anchoresses when doing research for her PHD on St Margaret of Antioch. 

Sandra C

Secret daughter

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The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer

 "As I saw my new-born baby’s face for the first time I tried desperately to capture her face in my mind—to stamp it onto my eyelids. As she was taken from me I knew I might never see my daughter again."

37 years later…

‘You were adopted’. Three short words and Sabina’s life fractures. There would forever be a Before those words, and an After.

Pregnant with her own child, Sabina can’t understand how a mother could abandon her daughter, or why her parents have kept the past a secret. Determined to find the woman who gave her away, what she discovers will change everything, not just for Sabina, but for the women who have loved her all these years. 

What a delightful book! I'd never heard of this author but have since found out that she lives in rural Australia.

What unfolds is Sabina's search for her birth mother, and also it explores her relationship with her adoptive parents where all is not what it seems.

I found this story to be enchanting and I loved the way the author gradually told the story through the eyes of Sabina, her mother and birth mother and time stamped each chapter. It also delved into history when babies were taken from their birth mothers because society would not accept unmarried mothers.

I would thoroughly recommend it to lovers of womens' fiction. I now shall be looking out for Kelly's other novel and look forward to her next one.

~ Janine

Come Away With Me

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Come Away With Me by Karma Brown

One minute, Tegan Lawson has everything she could hope for: an adoring husband, Gabe, and a baby on the way. The next, a patch of black ice causes a devastating accident that will change her life in ways she never could have imagined. Tegan is consumed by grief - not to mention her anger toward Gabe, who was driving on the night of the crash. But just when she thinks she's hit rock bottom, Gabe reminds her of their Jar of Spontaneity, a collection of their dream destinations and experiences, and so begins an adventure of a lifetime. From the bustling markets of Thailand to the flavours of Italy to the ocean waves in Hawaii, Tegan and Gabe embark on a journey to escape the tragedy and search for forgiveness. But they soon learn that grief follows you no matter how far away you run, and that acceptance comes when you least expect it.

Why We Love It:  Come Away With Me is a profoundly moving story of one woman’s journey from unfathomable loss to healing through love, family and travel.

from the team at Better Reading

Melway edition 6, 1973 - the Casey Cardinia pages.

Links to our Past - history -

I was very fortunate to be given a copy of the 1973 Edition 6 of the Melway Street Directory. I love street directories as they show how the area has developed over time. In 1973, what is now the City of Casey and Cardinia Shire took up nine pages in the Melway. 

This is Key Map (Southern Section) of the 1973 Melway, as you can see pages 127, 90, 91, 108, 109, 95, 96, 110, 111 and 128 cover the Casey Cardinia area.

Page 127 - covers Clematis and Emerald. 

Page 90 - covers Doveton and Endeavour Hills. 

Page 91 -  covers Hallam, Endeavour Hills and Doveton North (which is now called Endeavour Hills)

Page 108 - covers Narre Warren North

Page 109 - covers Harkaway

Page 95 - covers Lyndhurst and Dandenong South

Page 96 - covers Hampton Park, Hallam and what is now Lynbrook. 

Page 110 - covers Narre Warren.

Page 111 - covers Berwick

Page 128 - covers Cranbourne

The House by the Sea

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The House by the Sea by Santa Montefiore

Ten-year-old Floriana is captivated by the magnificent Tuscan villa near her village. When the owner’s son invites her inside, Floriana knows that her destiny is there, with him.  But as they grow up, things begin to change.

Miles away on the Devon coastline, Marina’s hotel has fallen on hard times.  The arrival of Rafael Santoro, artist-in-residence, seems to bring peace in Marina’s family.  But Rafa is not who he seems ...

The publisher’s blurb is a scant reference to the book’s storyline – there’s a lot more going on in here than initially thought,  like a string of burglaries in the little Devon township; a love affair and heartache; a love affair that blossoms after a rocky start; and a love affair that comes completely out of the blue.   It’s a light and gentle read, totally un-demanding of the reader, one that you can pick up and put down at any time rather than busting a gasket to turn the next page to find out what will happen.   

I borrowed the audio version on Playaway which was narrated beautifully by the accomplished Juanita McMahon, but we have this title in all formats. 


Tonimbuk Honour Roll

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

Denise Nest wrote about the Tonimbuk Honour Roll in her book, Call of the Bunyip. She said that 'the names and portraits of the men of the district were enclosed in a massive oak frame'.  The Roll was unveiled by Mr Pearson and a concert completed the occasion. Sadly, the whereabouts of this Roll is unknown.

What follows is a list of the soldiers on the Honour Roll, plus a few others with a Tonimbuk connection,  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). Some of the extra information about the families of the soldiers comes from Call of the Bunyip.

Bridle, Charles William (SN 5629) Charles enlisted as a 19 year old on July 31, 1915. He was born in Williamstown and was living there when he enlisted,  his next of kin was father, Richard.   Charles married Erine (also listed as Eileen)  around 1917. A letter in his file, dated August 1, 1918 states that Erine had moved  from Williamstown to Bunyip. He Returned to Australia on May 8, 1919. Mrs Nest, in Call of the Bunyip,  has his name listed as Bridal, which is not correct, however as George and Elizabeth Bridal settled in Tonimbuk in the early 1900s and they are presumably the source of the name Bridal Road it's an obvious mistake.

Ellis, H  Corporal H. Ellis is listed on the Honour Roll, but I am unsure who that is. It may possibly refer to Albert Bruthniaux Ellis (SN 44) who enlisted on June 7, 1915 aged 27. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs M. Ellis of 'Mt Juliet', Bunyip. Albert Returned to Australia on September 23, 1919. He was a Lieutenant (which doesn't tally with him being listed as a Corporal)  and was awarded the Military Cross. Any help appreciated.

Jewell, Frederick William (SN 57) Frederick enlisted on August 22, 1914 when he was 26. His occupation was a labourer.  Sergeant Jewell Returned to Australia on January 7, 1919.
Jewell, John George (SN 55) John was 19 years and 10 months  old  when he enlisted the same day as his brother, Frederick, above. John was also a labourer. Whilst serving overseas John suffered from influenza, then mumps, then appendicitis and then he was Wounded in Action in France. John Returned to Australia on January 23, 1918.
Jewell, William James Peter  (SN 6136)  William enlisted on May 4, 1916 aged 22. He Returned to Australia on October 29, 1918 and had suffered from Trench feet and a fractured thigh. For some reason William isn't listed on the Honour Roll.
William and Elizabeth (nee Leask) Jewell came to Tonimbuk about 1892 and took up 50 acres of land;  they had nine other children beside Fred, John and William.

Leask, George Clifford (SN 2784) Call of the Bunyip reports on a homecoming function given on New Years Eve, 1918 to the three Jewell boys and George Leask. George for some reason isn't listed on the Honour Roll. George was 18 when he enlisted on July 26, 1916. In August 1918 he suffered a gun shot wound to the abdomen (penetrating) and Returned to Australia on October 20, 1918. George was the son of  Thomas and Rose Leask of Bunyip. I presume he was cousin of the Jewell boys as their mother was a Leask.

Bunyip Free Press September 10, 1914.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129629543

Nylander, Alexander (SN 3435) Alexander was 27 when he enlisted on July 15, 1915. His next of kin was his mother, Mrs J. Nylander, of 'St Minians', Bunyip. He was discharged for medical reasons, suffering from shell shock and neurasthenia (a nervous condition)  Alexander Returned to Australia on August 25, 1917. Alexander's parents, Carl and Jessie (nee Forrester) had come to Tonimbuk in 1892.

Pearson, Frederick Francis (SN 869) Frederick enlisted on September 4, 1914, when he was 25. Frederick was Killed in Action on April 25, 1915 at Gallipoli. It wasn't until June 1916 that a Board of Enquiry finally confirmed that he had been Killed in Action, he was previously listed as missing. This information was not communicated to the family straight away as there is a letter from his father in his file dated September 1916 asking for confirmation of his death, he writes "Personally I am sure of his death but it is his mother who keeps on hoping to hear from him"  Frederick was the son of Charles and Blanche (nee Cox) Pearson who had arrived in Tonimbuk in 1893, they had 320 acres of land which they used an orchard.

Pilkington, Archibald Clarence (1268) Archie was living in Williamstown and his occupation was a driver,  when he enlisted on July 12 1915 at the age of 21. He  served overseas but was injured and also suffered from bronchitis and so was discharged due to medical reasons and Returned to Australia on Apri1 11, 1916. Archie and his wife Vera are listed in the 1917 Electoral Roll as living at Tynong. In 1919 they are back in Williamstown and he has  motor garage.  In 1924 Ada is listed alone in Williamstown and there is an Archibald Clarence Pilkington in Rocklea near Brisbane, occupation motor driver, so it seems that the marriage had broken up by then.  Vera was born in Longwarry and was the daughter of John and Catherine (nee Parsons) Topp, and so was the sister of Charles and John Topp, listed below.

Reardon, Eric Charles (SN 2524). Eric enlisted on June 3, 1915 at the age of 18 and died of wounds on September, 9 1918.  Eric is also listed on the Bunyip War Memorial.
Reardon, William Horace (SN 16)  William, the brother of Eric, above, enlisted on August 19, 1914. They were both born in Tatura and were the sons of James Edward Reardon of Bunyip. William Returned to Australia on November 12, 1917 after being discharged as permanently unfit. William had suffered from months of diarrhoea and bilharziosis (a parasite infection from a flatworm)

A report form the Bunyip Free Press of September 9, 1915 on the local boys Jack Sleigh and Fred Jewell.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129630841
Sleigh, John (SN 58) John enlisted on August 22, 1914, the same day as Fred and John Jewell, when he was 25 years old. John had  a colourful military record and was charged with a number of offences whilst on active duty and also suffered from a leg injury that became quite  a bad ulcer which wouldn't heal and he was discharged as medically unfit after he  Returned to Australia on February 15, 1918.
Sleigh, T  I believe that this may actually be Stephen Sleigh (SN 3244) who is also listed on the Bunyip War Memorial. Stephen enlisted on July 16, 1915. Stephen was listed as missing on July 28, 1916 and  a later Court of Enquiry found that he was Killed in Action on July 19, 1916.
Stephen and John were both born in Trentham and they were the sons of Charles and Mary Jane Sleigh of Bunyip.

A sadly prophetic article - the visit made to his parents was indeed his final visit. Bunyip Free Press October 21, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article129630990

Topp, Charles William (SN 3656)  Charles was a jockey, aged 24, and he enlisted on September 6, 1915.  He Returned to Australia on May 15, 1919.
Topp, John Henry Thomas (SN 1312) John enlisted at the age of 26 on July 29, 1915. He was a saw mill employee. He Returned to Australia on July 18, 1919.
Charles and John were the sons  of John Henry Topp and Catherine Theresa Parsons of Bunyip. Call of the Bunyip  mentions a John Topp who had  a property near the Tonimbuk School which consisted of 450 acres and a home on the banks of Dingle Creek.

Towt, O.O  Listed as O.O. Towt in the Call of the Buyip, but I believe that it is the grandly named Canterbury Oliver Towt (SN 72). Canterbury was the son of Catherine Towt of "Glen Evergreen" Tonimbuk. He was an orchardist and enlisted at the age of 25 on July 19, 1915. He Returned to Australia on May 11, 1919.

Season of shadow and light

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn McLeod

"When it seems everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with six year old Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow.

But stranded amid rising floodwaters, on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.

Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but…Are some secrets best kept for the sake of others?"

I am so pleased to present this great book by an Australian author. Seasonof Shadow and Light is a fantastic book, it tells the story of Paige who has suffered a terrible loss in her life with the birth of a stillborn son, and subsequently her health is affected, so she heads off on a road trip with her "other mother" in search of her birth mother's story in country NSW. The story alternates between the three protagonists - Paige, Nana Alice and Aiden. Paige and her daughter have left the high life in Sydney (and her husband) and are looking for answers to long kept secrets about her late mother Nancy.

Nana Alice who is her "other mother" has kept a secret for years and is nervous about returning to the country in case Paige does find what she is looking for, and how that will impact their relationship. In the town they meet Aiden who has issues of his own to deal with let alone Paige and her daughter and mother coming into town.

I just loved the way the author gradually let you into these people's lives and throughout the 470 pages you felt like you understood where they were all coming from and you grew to love them. The descriptions of the town they were in and the Australian rural way of life was well depicted throughout and some of the other characters you could just place in your mind so easily!

Nana Alice's story is portrayed with great sensitivity, and the secret that she has kept will gradually be revealed - I didn't see it coming at all. 

Book of Strange New Things

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The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. 

His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter's teachings - his Bible is their "book of strange new things." But Peter is rattled when Bea's letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter. Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. 

While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us

The intriguing title and the striking cover are what first attracted me to this book. The Book of Strange New Things is a romance and an adventure. It follows the story of Peter, who embarks on a mission to spread the work of his church, leaving behind his wife, Bea. The story traces their relationship as it is tested by distance and the challenges each must face alone, with only their faith and their electronic letters to offer support. Peter's loneliness is tempered by his adventures and the unexpected companionship he finds with his flock. Oh, and he's on another planet.

The Book of Strange New Things is an easy, enjoyable, but addictive read. While not usually a reader of fiction, I found myself compelled to keep reading - I had to know what was going to happen to our protagonist. Where was the author taking me?

My only criticism with this book is that it could do with another chapter or two. I still have unanswered questions, and weeks after reading the book I find myself still thinking about it. 


Elon Musk

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Elon Musk: how the billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is shaping up by Ashlee Vance

South African born Elon Musk is the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk wants to save our planet; he wants to send citizens into space, to form a colony on Mars; he wants to make money while doing these things; and he wants us all to know about it. 

The personal tale of Musk's life comes with all the trappings one associates with a great, drama-filled story. He was a freakishly bright kid who was bullied brutally at school, and abused by his father. In the midst of these rough conditions, and the violence of apartheid South Africa, Musk still thrived academically and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he paid his own way through school by turning his house into a club and throwing massive parties.

He started a pair of huge dot-com successes, including PayPal, which eBay acquired for $1.5 billion in 2002. Musk was forced out as CEO and so began his lost years in which he decided to go it alone and baffled friends by investing his fortune in rockets and electric cars. Meanwhile Musk's marriage disintegrated as his technological obsessions took over his life ...

Elon Musk is the Steve Jobs of the present and the future, and for twelve months has been shadowed by tech reporter, Ashlee Vance. 

Elon Musk is acknowledged as one of Silicon Valley’s most dynamic entrepreneurs, trailblazing the industries of the future – electric cars, space travel for non-astronauts, and solar power. Like most business geniuses (think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates), he is also brilliant, impatient, rude and works like a demon. His story is fascinating as not only a “succeeding against all odds” story, but for the way it opens up the reader’s mind to the possibilities of creating a better future for the planet, and showing that it actually may be feasible to do it. 
Also, like most business geniuses, he has weathered his share of near death financial crises, times when he was literally days away from economic ruin and failure. This is a truly exciting story which is engrossing and ultimately hopeful. 


The Secret River

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

From the catalogue:  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 aired on the ABC.  Secret River is about early encounters the settlers had with the Aboriginals of the Hawkesbury River. Pardoned convict William Thornhill and his family decide to settle there and farm the land the white man's way.  William is torn whether to be tolerant or dismissive of the original owners, eventually coming to a decision that 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. 

Sandra C

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes

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The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

From the catalogue:   Here is a truth that can't be escaped: for Mia 'Rabbit' Hayes, life is coming to an end... Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she's ok with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. Here is a truth that won't be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life's surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

Simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting, wildly funny and emotionally devastating, The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a superb novel from Anna McPartlin.

What a delightful surprise this book is! A contemporary Irish novel which, despite the subject matter, abounds in humour, pathos and depth. The banter is spot on and all of the characters stand alone in their own right. 

We learn about “Rabbit” through trips back in time to her childhood when she hung out with her brothers’ band and befriended the singer Johnny (who came up with her nickname due to her sticky up bunny-ear hair) and through default (and talent) gained employment with them. The descriptions of the shenanigans of the boys in the band are hilarious. All of the family members and their close friends are such wonderful characters; warm, outspoken, strong and defiant. And funny! 

This is a poignant story which will stay with you long after you finish it and have wiped away the tears. I highly recommend the audio version which is beautifully brought to life by Irish actor Caroline Lennon. 


The Devil in the White City

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

From the catalogue:  This is the story of the men and women whose lives were irrevocably changed by the Chicago World Fair, and of two men in particular: an architect and a serial killer. Spicing the narrative are the stories of a cast of historical characters including Buffalo Bill, Scott Joplin and Theodore Dreiser.

The Devil in the White City tells two parallel stories from the history of Chicago in the late 1800s. Inspired by the Great Exhibition that had recently occurred in France, the citizens of Chicago lobbied the United States government to be the site of a similar undertaking in America. The Paris Exhibition had been an opportunity for that city to display the best architecture and engineering the country had to offer. The famous Eiffel Tower was built to display at this event as a monument to the intellectual achievements of the age. 

Those who proposed the Chicago World’s Fair were determined to do even better than Paris. At the time this was regarded as somewhat of a joke, as Chicago was seen as a bit of a backwater, and unsuitable for the dreams that were dreamed by those who lived there. 

The first of the parallel stories in this book concerns the architect who drove this campaign and the successful construction of the event. Daniel Hudson Burnham had the weight of the expectation of the entire country on his shoulders as he organised and designed the Fair. Several buildings, each more ornate than the last were to be designed and built. The area was to be landscaped (a challenge taken on by Olmsted, the man who had just finished working on New York City’s Central Park), and exhibits from all over the world brought to Chicago for the edification and education of the masses. 

But while this stunning example of man’s achievements of the age was taking place, something much darker was happening in another part of Chicago. This is where the second of the parallel stories told by Larson is focussed. 

Henry H. Holmes, often referred to now as an American’s first serial killer was setting up shop in the city to take advantage of the mass influx of visitors to the Fair. He swindled and lied is his way to the wealth  that allowed him to build what has been referred to as his ‘Murder Castle’, a three storey building with crazy architecture concealing a variety of ways for Holmes to catch and murder his victims. 

The twin stories are equally fascinating, and handled with just the right amount of drama and suspense by Larson. While the portions of the story about the serial killer were obviously disturbing, the writing never felt sensationalised or manipulative. While it may seem strange to have decided to tell two such stories together, both set the scene for each other, and reflect the best and worst that humanity have to offer. 

The film rights have been snatched up by Leonardo Di Caprio – so be prepared for a fascinating movie at some point in the future. 


Reverend Alexander Duff (1824 to 1890)

Links to our Past - history -

The Reverend Alexander Duff played a large role in the early development of the Cranbourne area. He was born in Coagh in Northern Ireland in 1824 and obtained a Master of Arts from the University of Glasgow. He married Annie Tucker in Belfast when he was 29, around 1853, and they came to Australia soon after. Their eight children were all born in Victoria.

Alexander Duff. Photograph scanned from The Good Country:  Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson.

According to Niel Gunson in his book The Good County: Cranbourne Shire Duff was appointed by the Presbyterian Church to Dandenong on June 26, 1855 and on September 20 he was ordained. The Duffs initially lived with Alexander Cameron and conducted services in his house until Scots Presbyterian Church was opened on May 27 1860. A manse was also built at the same time. Duff also preached at Berwick in the early days and as far south as the Bass River area. He visited parishioners on his horse, Dobbin.

The original Scots Presbyterian Church, opened 1860. Thus Church was replaced by the existing Scots Church in, I believe, 1953.
A Presbyterian School opened in Cranbourne on June 1, 1856. This school was located on the site where the Presbyterian Church stands,  the first teacher being James Henry, the next teacher was Archibald Thomson. In 1862, the Commons School Act was passed and the School became Cranbourne Common School, No. 144. The School was closed in 1878 and the students moved to a new School on the South Gippsland Highway (where the Elderly Citizens are now located). In 1969, the Cranbourne State School, No. 2068, moved to Russell Street location.

State Government Gazette  http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/
In October 1855 Alexander was appointed the Registrar of Births and Deaths for Cranbourne and Dandenong. The Reverend Duff also held evening classes for young men and women on 'arithmetic, physics, mathematics, English, Latin, Greek, French and German. He was obviously interested in intellectual pursuits but he also valued physical activity - Niel Gunson writes that he tried his hand at black smith work and that he experimented with ways to improve cheese making. He ploughed his own paddocks and, in 1858, the Mornington Farmers Society held their ploughing competitions on his farm.

Duff retired to his farm at Cardinia in 1888 and he died on December 22 1890 aged 65. He left his entire estate to 'my dear wife, Annie Duff'. The value of his Estate was personal property of 1312 pounds and real estate valued at 1574 pounds.

Extract from Rev Duff's will dated August 11, 1884.(Public Records Office of Victoria)

Obituary from the South Bourke and Mornington Journal December 24, 1890.http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper

As we mentioned before, Alexander married Annie Tucker in Belfast around 1853. He was the son of Thomas Duff and Ann McMorran.  They had eight children - Walter (1855 to 1925, married Eva Sharp); Annie Elizabeth (1857 to 1934. married John Gason) ; William Tucker (1859 to 1935, married Alice Hobart); Dora Robina (1861 to 1939, married Robert Gibb); Maggie (1864 to 1938, married James Lecky); Mary Clarissa (known  as Minnie, 1865 to ?., married Inglebert Gunnelson); Alexander (1869 to 1941, married Mary Irwin) and lastly Edward John Tucker, born and died 1877. Annie died November 24, 1905 aged 74. The three surviving sons farmed in the Cardinia area. Walter Duff, James Lecky and Robert Gibb were all Cranbourne Shire Councillors.  Mary and Inglebert Gunnelson lived in Garfield and two of their sons, Inglebert and Percy,  were killed in the First World War.
Alexander's brother, Robert (1827 to 1861) was also in Australia. He and his wife Margaret established the Cranbourne Hotel, around 1860. It was in High Street, where Greg Clydesdale Square is now and was demolished around the 1970s. Margaret was also a Duff, perhaps a cousin, and her father operated an Inn in Coagh, County Tyrone, the birthplace of Alexander and Robert. After Robert died, Margaret married Edward Tucker, who was born in America and operated a store in Cranbourne. Edward's brother William (born in Belfast)  was also in the area. What connection were they to Annie Tucker, the wife of the Reverend Duff?  Some sources say that she was the sister of Edward and William Tucker, however in the Early Settlers of the Casey Cardinia District their parents are listed as Edward Tucker and Elizabeth Moore and Annie's death certificate has her mother's maiden name as Phillips, so I am not sure.

 Cranbourne Hotel, established circa 1860, by Robert and Margaret Duff. Photograph scanned from The Good Country:  Cranbourne Shire by Niel Gunson.

Temporary Bride

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Temporary Bride: a memoir of love and food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec

In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen. Vahid, her son, is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother's kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs. Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

A different romance about complex relationships in an unusual setting, but it left this reader with an appetite for more about the food!  Have you read it, what do you think?


The Maze Runner Lock In Night

Quicksand -

-The Maze Runner Movie lock in night- for teens aged 12-18 years
Come and get locked in the library!
Popcorn and Pizza providedBYO cushion or bean bag.Includes Maze Runner trivia and door prize.
All movie goer- YOU MUST COMPLETE THE REGISTRATION FORM (emailed with ticket)- this is your key to entry.
This movie is rated M. If you are under 15 years of age, parental permission is required.

Go Set A Watchman

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Set two decades after the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, 'To Kill a Mockingbird', twenty-six year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. 

Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bitter sweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her value and assumptions are thrown into doubt.  

The book captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that be guided only by one’s own conscience.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.  Not because of the intrigue and mysterious provenance surrounding it but to be reacquainted with those memorable characters 26 years later had me full of anticipation.  Not unlike the excitement of a reunion with friends or relatives after years of absence.

I had a number of questions right from the beginning ,including the title. At first I was confused and later intrigued to discover the reader could use it to interpret a number of opinions and ideologies. The biblical reference is quoted early in the book and you can draw your own conclusions for interpretation.

Harper Lee writes in an emotional style and as such I was left with the feeling she was writing a dramatic account of what she was experiencing about her own life at that time growing up in the South. Emotions of frustration, anger and confusion are with the reader throughout.

The author presents thought provoking dialogue from her characters of the political, cultural and emotional turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement in which they are living.  Woven into this setting, we experience how they think and feel about themselves, family and the world in which they live.  It is a time of transitions both personal and national which gives rise to more questions than answers.  Although the issues are serious there is humour and a feeling that the characters we came to know from her first book 'To Kill A Mockingbird', were credible in this new time period. We see the deconstruction of icons to human beings complete with flaws and imperfections.

Atticus is a complicated character, the silent and stoic type, and much has been said and written by critics that he is a bigot.  I need to be careful what I say in case you haven’t read the book. However this is just one point that makes this a good choice for book group discussion.  “A man can appear to be a part of something not-so-good on it’s face, but don’t take it upon yourself to judge him unless you know his motives” states Henry, the brother of Atticus.

Jean Louise – Scout, is on a journey of self-discovery although she doesn’t know it in the beginning.  The story starts with her returning to Maycomb County by train rather than plane, a point the author is clear to make.  Jean Louise gets on and off that train emotionally throughout the book. In her memory she is stopping all stations as she revisits childhood experiences. Certain revelations start to appear and an awakening of her adult self emerges. A bitter-sweet journey to her destination. 

There were times when I thought the author could have expanded more on certain scenes. I could see the scene so vividly but she ended it too quickly leaving me somewhat confused. As such, I think the book would translate well to film whereby actors would translate in action what words did or could not do.  Finally, the ending was a bit sentimental for me. Another point to raise in book discussion.  It would be interesting to hear how others would write the conclusion.  

So, how did my reunion go?  Well, like most reunions there were some surprises, disappointments and laughs.  But I am definitely glad I had the experience.  

Kim G

Supermarket Monsters

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Supermarket monsters: the price of Coles’ and Woolworths’ dominance by Malcolm Knox

This book shines a light on Australia's twin mega-retailers, exploring how they have built and exploited their market power. Knox reveals the unavoidable and often intimidating tactics both companies use to get their way. In return for cheap milk, he argues, consumers are risking much more.

I swear, after reading this book you will never buy a $1.00 carton of milk ever again!! Of course we all know that Coles and Woolies are evil conglomerates, but this book shows the depths to which they sink to increase their profits and market dominance. 

Through merciless price cutting Coles and Woolworths lure shoppers into their stores, and once there use this practice to increase their hold to petrol, insurance and hardware. Not only are vulnerable suppliers caught in the duopoly’s pincers but we as gullible consumers are being robbed of quality and diversity in our grocery choices. This book makes you want your next shopping trip to be not only to the supermarket, but broadened to the green grocer, the butcher and the old fashioned hardware store, just like the 'good old days'.


The Girl in the Spider's Web

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (Millennium #4) by David Lagercrantz

Mikael Blomkvist is once again making headlines, but this time the media is claiming that his reign as a superstar journalist is over. Millennium is struggling and his lover Erika Berger has convinced him to sell 30 per cent of the business to a major news syndication called Serner, headed by an old rival from his temp days. But when he walks out of an important meeting, he is faced with the prospect of unemployment under the guise of being transferred to London.

Professor Balder has returned to Sweden with his research, intending to take charge of his autistic son August much to the anger of his ex-wife’s new partner, who has come to rely on child support payments to support his drinking habits. But Balder refuses to take no for an answer, despite not having legal custody of the boy, and takes August home. Uncommunicative up to this point, the child shows savant abilities after returning from a visit to his father’s friend and recreating a snapshot of a mysterious man they passed on their way home.

Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander has taken on the National Security Agency, crossing oceans in order to uncover some dirty laundry. The head of security, Ed Needham, is furious and vows revenge on the hacker who has disrupted his carefully planned systems. But, like her, he finds himself dragged into the world of a cyber criminal group, headed by the mysterious Thanos, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on Professor Balder’s research.

Why We Love It:

It was one of the most successful thriller series ever, starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Author Stieg Larsson had intended many installments but completed only three before his untimely death. Now his publishers’ appointed successor David Lagercrantz does not disappoint Millennium trilogy fans with this slow-burning follow-up, The Girl in the Spider’s Web. 

Lisbeth Salander is back with a vengeance, and Lagercrantz’s depiction matches perfectly with her creator’s. With its brooding characters, darker tone and updated technology, his novel is enjoyable as both a continuation of the series and as the stand-alone sequel that Lagercrantz intended. The understandable differences in style between Lagercrantz and Larsson make this an interesting addition to the series. The inclusion of key elements that Larsson himself introduced in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest provides familiarity for readers, and a list of main characters makes it unnecessary to revisit the trilogy before reading the new instalment. With The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lagercrantz brings Salander and Blomkvist to the present day, touching on technology not available during Larsson’s own lifetime.

from the Team at Better Reading.

Sisters in Crime - Davitt Awards

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Big Little Lies by Sydney writer, Liane Moriarty, has won Sisters in Crime’s Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel. The book, which opens with a death at the local primary school’s trivia night, has sold a million copies in the US alone. Moriaty was the first Australian author to have a novel debut at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Film and television rights have been acquired by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon who will both take roles in the production.

Walkely-award winning journalist, Caroline Overington, won the Davitt Non-Fiction Award for Last Woman Hanged, about Louisa Collins who was executed in New South Wales in 1889.

Brisbane-based author Christine Bongers took out the Davitt Best Debut Book Award for Intruder, and Sandi Wallace, who lives in the Dandenong Ranges outside of Melbourne, won the Davitt Readers’ Choice, as voted by the 660 members of Sisters in Crime, for Tell Me Why, the first instalment in her Rural Crime Files series. 



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