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Almost French

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull    

From the cover:  After backpacking her way around Europe, SBS TV journalist Sarah Turnbull is ready to embark on one last adventure before heading home to Sydney. A chance meeting with a charming Frenchman in Bucharest changes her travel plans forever.  Acting on impulse, she agrees to visit Fredric in Paris for a week. Put a very French Frenchman together with a strong-willed Australian girl and the result is some spectacular - and often hilarious - cultural clashes. Language is a minefield of misunderstanding and the simple act of buying a baguette is fraught with social danger.

But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from the sophisticated cafes and haute couture fashion houses to the picture postcard French countryside, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: passionate, mysterious, infuriating, and charged with that French specialty - seduction. And it becomes her home. 

I think the line on the cover: “the story of an Australian woman’s impetuous heart and finding love in a magical city” is quite misleading – this is not a chick lit romance but quite a deep-thinking, probing kind of read.  

I found this book an absolute treat.  Sarah’s journalistic skills not only make it an easy and enjoyable read, but her investigative mind continually probes to understand why the French are so ‘French’ and what makes them that way!  From her arrival - the search for work, lack of language and living in an insular outer suburb, to finally moving into a Paris apartment (six flights of stairs and no lift), while coming to grips with no car, no friends, and always perceived as a dreaded ‘Anglo-Saxon’ - this journey of one beach-going Sydney-sider in a pocket-size city of stone with bleak light has many rewards along the way.  We have this title in various formats and the Bolinda e-Audio download that I borrowed was very well narrated by Caroline Lee. It was très bon!
Deb.

Fast track

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Fast track by Julie Garwood.

Raised by her father after her mother's death when she was two, Cordelia is shattered when her father reveals the truth about her mother. She discovers the answers lie in Sydney, Australia. There she meets up with hotel magnate Aiden Madison, her best friend's older brother. He has troubles of his own - multiple attempts have been made on his life since he angered a Congressman when he refused to buy overvalued land.  It is a wild ride for them both.

Julie always writes good, exciting suspense.

~ Dot

Land sales in the area - real estate advertisements

Links to our Past - history -

Here are some interesting land sale posters, from the past 130 years, from the  State Library of Victoria.

Grassmere: the heights of Dandenong - land sales  circa 1888. Grassmere covers modern day, Endeavour Hills, Hallam and Doveton. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/157750

This is a close-up of the illustration from the advertisement - I think there is a bit of artistic licence there.

Tooradin, 1889. The advertised blocks run off Tooradin Station Road, nearly up to Lynes Road. http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/157740


Nar Nar Goon Estate - small farms and township allotments. This is undated but I presume it is the 1880s.
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/167795



The 'celebrated' Langwarrin Estate, dated 1888. The subdivision on the right is modern day Pearcedale. The land for sale on the left, either side of West Road is in Langwarrin South.
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/130984



Garfield Township lots, 1906
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/169522



Logan Park and Sweet Hills Orchard, Narre Warren, 1907. This is Narre Warren North, north of Heatherton Road, in the vicinity of Lysterfield Lake and Logan park Track.
http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/169647 


Hampton Park 1920. The land for sale is on both sides of Somerville Road.http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/169514  

GORGON

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Gorgon by Greig Beck

Book 5 in the Alex Hunter series.
From the cover:  Alex Hunter has been found, sullen, alone, leaving a path of destruction as he travels across America. Only the foolish get in his way of the drifter wandering the streets late at night. Across the world, something has been released by a treasure hunter in a hidden chamber of the Basilica Cisterns in Istanbul. Something hidden there by Emperor Constantine himself, and deemed by him too horrifying and dangerous to ever be set free. It now stalks the land, leaving its victims turned to stone, and is headed on a collision course with a NATO base. The Americans can’t let it get there, but can’t be seen to intervene. There is only one option, send in the HAWCs. But Alex and the HAWCs are not the only ones seeking out the strange being, the Russian brute, Uli Borshov, who has a score to settle with the Arcadian, moves to intercept him, setting up a deadly collision of epic proportions where only one can survive.

I LOVE this series and I’m not sure why; it’s set on a US military base with personnel involved in covert global operations, it’s full of high tech gung-ho and it’s very violent – all of which is a total turnoff for me!  It’s probably the science, history and the characters that captivate me; that part of it is more your Indiana Jones/Six Million Dollar Man meets The Twilight Zone/Outer Limits crossover, and I do enjoy good supernatural/suspense/historical mythology/thrillers! 

This is no. 5 in the Alex Hunter series and it’s better in my opinion than the previous. Despite the content, which is contiguously spell-binding and repulsive, it’s good to welcome back a bit of humanity in our hero – he was becoming too mechanical and brutal there for a while.  I also enjoyed the return of our Paleo-linguistic hero, Professor Matt Kearns, and some other characters from previous books.  It seems like we’re not done yet with Alex Hunter, and I’m really looking forward to the next one - there’s some unresolved romance to happen yet!  If you're borrowing the audio - either CD, MP3 or downloadable e-audio, it is once again brilliantly narrated by Sean Mangan.  We also have this title in hard copy.  Well done to our Bondi author Greig Beck.
Deb.    

The Silkworm

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Silkworm is the second title in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith - the sequel to The Cuckoo's Calling.

I read the Cuckoo's Calling initially when I discovered that Robert Galbraith was the psydoneum for J.K. Rowling.  I read The Silkworm because I enjoyed Cuckoo's Calling.  And here's what The Silkworm was all about:

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days--as he has done before--and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine's disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

Although the novel is the second of the Cormoran Strike novels, you don't need to read the first to be able to follow the second. Having said that, you do get a better sense of the background behind the main characters if you do read them in order.

As for The Silkworm, there is much that is disturbing about the story.  The poisoning pen portraits are quite sexually graphic and provoking, but you can easily gloss over the sections that describe this if you wish. The Silkworm, as with The Cuckoo's Calling, is engaging, interesting and although I picked up on some of the twists, I was still a little surprised with who the villain ended up being.

Galbraith writes well, has an intriguing and macabre sense which come through well in this story, but despite the disturbing images that the crime makes you envision, I was really taken with the story and had to take time out to finish it all in one sitting, just to find out 'whodunnit' and why.

If you don't mind graphic scenes and like a good whodunnit with fascinating characters, then you really have to read the Silkworm.

~ Michelle

The 52-Storey Treehouse

Book Swamp -

Book name : The 52-Storey Treehouse
Author of the book: Andy Griffiths

I loved this book . It was about Andy and Terry (the main characters) who had to write a book before a particular date. But they did not receive the expected phone call from Mr. Bignose confirming the due day so they went to discover it themselves......
What type of story was it?: Adventure
What do you rate the book out of 10?: 9

Ella
Age: 8

Exemption Courts

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

This article is from the Dandenong Advertiser of October 26,  1916 and is an account of the activities of Dandenong Exemption Court held on October 17 before Mr Vivian Tanner, P.M. The Court heard applications from men from Springvale, Clayton, Keysborough, Dandenong and also from our area - so below are some of the applications and outcomes from men from the Shire of Cranbourne and the Shire of Berwick. 

Dandenong Advertiser of October 26,  1916http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88663285
What was an Exemption Court?  The government made a proclamation at the beginning of October 1916 declaring all unmarried able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 35 were to undertake military training leading to the possibility of service within the Commonwealth. All men meeting those criteria had to enrol at enrolment centres where they were assessed for suitability. However, there was a procedure whereby men classified as suitable could appeal and be granted exception from service. http://localhistory.kingston.vic.gov.au/

Courts were set up in each Federal Electorate and men who wished to be exempt from military training had to fill out a form in duplicate, deliver it to the military registrar and they would then be able to put their case at the Exemption Court. The article from The Argus, below, outlines the process.


The Argus October 2, 1916http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1629845

Big Little Lies

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

From the cover: Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. One parent is dead. The school principal is horrified. As police investigate what appears to have been a tragic accident, signs begin to indicate that this devastating death might have been cold-blooded murder.  This book deftly explores the reality of parenting and playground politics, ex-husbands and ex-wives, and fractured families.  It also shows us the truth about what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

This suspenseful novel is written with its shocking event revealed at the very beginning. The story is crafted to explain the events leading up to the death at Pirriwee Public’s annual school trivia night.  Big Little Lies takes us back and gives us a feel for the schoolyard politics, friendships, divisions, affairs and budding romances of the peninsula township, with little snippets from witnesses and other parents thrown into the mix.  

I thoroughly enjoyed Big Little Lies. Its short, punchy chapters make it a perfect novel for busy parents and, with children of a similar age, I related to plenty of the conversations and statements - “you get what you get and you don’t get upset!”  While it’s definitely a page turner, this is no lightweight. The book covers bullying, body image, the vulnerability of teens on social media, infidelity, custody battles and domestic violence. An enthralling suspense novel!
Sandra E



Bones Under the Beach Hut

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Bones Under the Beach Hut by Simon Brett

From the cover:  Amateur sleuths Carole Seddon and her best friend Jude are drawn in to the mystery of human remains found under a beach hut at the affluent seaside resort of Smalting.  Their suspicions are many and varied, but when the bones are identified, the ghosts of the past are painfully reawakened and long-hidden secrets begin to surface.  It’s clear that there is more than one criminal in idyllic Smalting, and that more than one crime has been committed.

“Enchantingly gifted” says the Sunday Times.  “One of the wittiest crime writers around” says Antonia Fraser. Hmmmm.  I really enjoyed Mrs Pargeter’s Pound of Flesh by Simon Brett (one of the now series of Mrs. Pargeter novels). It was a hoot with its colourful characters such as ‘Ankle-deep Arkwright’ and ’Stan the Stapler’, so I was gleefully looking forward to a good chuckle with this book. I liked the sound of the English seaside setting; a beach hut is certainly an original stage for a murder mystery.

Unfortunately, there’s neither humour nor much detecting joy in this unappealing story. Chief protagonist, Carole Seddon, is teeth-gnashingly annoying.  The storyline is grubby with its undertones of paedophilia and pornography, blackmail and corruption; and is populated with irritating characters who range from the bourgeois and smarmy, to downright pathetic and totally unbelievable. 

Definitely not a book to recommend.  Stick with Mrs. Pargeter for a good dose of English crime-foolery.
Deb.
PS: I have since found out that this is Book 15 in a series called The Fethering Mysteries. Hopefully the others are better.  

Point of Origin

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell

From the cover:  Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief Medical Examiner and consulting pathologist for the federal law enforcement agency ATF, is called out to a farmhouse in Virginia which has been destroyed by fire. In the ruins of the house she finds a body which tells a story of a violent and grisly murder. 

The fire has come at the same time as another, even more incendiary horror: Carrie Grethen, a killer who nearly destroyed the lives of Scarpetta and those closest to her, has escaped from a forensic psychiatric hospital. Her whereabouts is unknown, but her ultimate destination is not, for Carrie has begun to communicate with Scarpetta, conveying her deadly – if cryptic – plans for revenge. 

This is Book 9 in the Scarpetta series, and I think I’ve read an earlier one but can’t recall which.  No matter, although there are previous references to past happenings and people, it doesn’t really detract from the story – it’s still scary and unsettling.  If you have a weak stomach it’s probably best to avoid this series.  There’s a lot of blood and guts, she is a medical examiner in the morgue after all, but some of the more gory scenes are outside in the normal day-to-day world.  That’s where the psychopaths are, mingling with the likes of us which is probably the most chilling thing.

After so many books, Cornwell is seemingly at the height of her prowess; this book is very well crafted and surprisingly, emotional - I needed the tissue box at one stage.  But the slow-building suspense that clinches your stomach muscles and does not let go is what makes it so good.   
Deb



Heston at Home

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Heston Blumenthal at Home by Heston Blumenthal 

Until now, home cooking has remained stubbornly out of touch with technological development but Heston Blumenthal, champion of the scientific kitchen, changes all that with this radical book. 

With meticulous precision, he explains what the most effective techniques are and why they work. Heston's instructions are precise and easy to follow, with lots of helpful tips, and each chapter is introduced with an explanation of Heston's approach to 1) Stocks 2) Soups 3) Starters 4) Salads 5) Meat 6) Fish 7) Sous-vide 8) Pasta and grains 9) Cheese 10) Sides and condiments 11) Ices 12) Desserts and sweets 13) Biscuits, snacks and drinks. Heston Blumenthal at Home will change the way you think about cooking forever - prepare for a culinary revolution!

Don’t be put off by this chef’s reputation - none of these recipes require test tubes, liquid nitrogen, or a science degree. The “master” of culinary theatre has put together a collection of recipes true to the book’s name. You can cook these at home - I’ve done it (well, a few, anyway).

The dishes in this book are definitely not “weekday” dinners. They are special occasion meals - designed to impress. Be prepared to spend the best part of a day in the kitchen, and a lot of washing up. All of the recipes are accompanied by beautiful colour photographs, so you know how the dish is meant to look. No fancy equipment is needed, and the ingredients are not difficult to obtain. However I did need to travel to Knox to obtain “cornichons”, which turned out to be very similar to little gherkins.

These recipes are perfect for someone who loves to cook, and is happy to spend time to make something spectacular.
Kim S.

Martha King - Pioneer woman

Links to our Past - history -

Martha Jane King took up the Bunguyan run lease in 1845.  The run was of 15,000 acres and takes in modern day Hastings and Tyabb. Mrs King held the lease until 1859. It was unusual for a woman to have a lease hold in her own name, so in this post we will take  a look at the life of Mrs King, who also had a connection to the Casey Cardinia region. King’s Creek in Hastings was named for Martha King and her family and was the original name for the township of Hastings.
Much of the following information comes from Valda Cole’s research, presented in her book Western Port: Pioneers and Preachers (citation below). Mrs Cole gave a talk about the life of Martha King and the early history of the Hastings Tyabb area at the South Eastern Historical Association Discovery School held in 2012  and other ever since I have been fascinated about Martha and the life she lead as an early pioneer, so even though she only has a short association with our area, her life is well worth recording in our blog.                                                                                                                                                                         Martha was born Martha Jane Henry in County Down  Ireland in 1790 and married Henry King in 1814, who was also from County Down They had seven children (Mary b. 1815-1942), John (1817-1870), Sarah (1819-189), Ellen (1822-1903), Robert  (1825-1883) Alexander (1827-1885) and James (b.1830-d.1831) The eldest son John came to Sydney in 1838. Whilst in Sydney he heard favourable reports about the Port Phillip Region, so returned to Ireland to pass this onto his family. Thus in August 10, 1840 Martha and Henry King and children, plus John King, his wfe Elizabeth (nee Johnstone)  and their two children, Frederick and Annie, all embarked for Australia. Martha and Henry’s daughters, Sarah and Ellen, were listed on the shipping records as dairymaids and their other daughter Mary as a housemaid. 
Sadly, on the way out Martha’s husband, Henry died on October 30 aged 49. The family landed in Melbourne on January 4, 1841, six years after the region had been ‘discovered’ by Eurpoeans such as John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner in 1835 and four years after Governor Bourke proclaimed the town of Melbourne in 1837. Melbourne’s non-Indigenous population in March 1841 was 4,500 and at the end of 1842 it was around 8,000. (Encyclopedia of Melbourne) thus the King family was one of many new arrivals seeking to start a new life in a ‘new’ country.
In spite of the fact that Martha was recently widowed and her daughter Mary died in 1842 aged 27, Martha had to continue on.  The family was living in Moonee Ponds and to support her children she took charge of John Pascoe Fawkner’s dairy herd - 113 head of cattle. Fawkner had become insolvent and so had had to relinquish most of his farm at Pascoe Vale. The herd provided Martha with a source of income as she could sell the cheese that she made from the milk and the herd also provided employment  for her children – daughters Sarah and Ellen were already experienced dairy maids. 
It is this dairy herd that brings Martha King into our region. Martha needed a large area of land to run a dairy herd and she had access to land leased by her brother, Robert Henry. Robert had the Cardinia Creek No.1 run of 5,120 acres from October 1842 until May 1851. It was later taken over by Terence O’Connor. This run was based, as the name suggests, on the Cardinia Creek, the west side. It is believed that Martha took on adjacent land on the corner of Pound Road and Thompsons road to look after the Fawkner herd.  However as we know she wasn’t there for long as in 1845 she took up the 15,000 acre Bunguyan lease  but the family lived in a cottage on the property whilst they were developing  Bunguyan.  


Click on map to enlarge it. This is part of the Cranbourne Parish Plan and shows the Cardinia Creek pre-emptive right of 640 acres, which was once part of the 5,120 acres leased by Martha's brother, Robert Henry. Gunson describes the Cardinia Creek run as being north of St Germains, so I assume that the original run extended west (perhaps to Pound Road) and possibly north of the pre-emptive right. 
Martha and her brother Robert Henry had another close connection as two of Martha’s sons married their first cousins – it was not unusual to marry your first cousin in the ‘olden days’ – the daughters of Robert Henry. Robert King married Annie Henry and Alexander King married Mary Henry. Another of Martha’s daughters, Sarah, married Richard Rogers,  whose brother John married Sarah Henry, Martha’s niece.
Although Martha took up Bunguyan in 1845, the actual formal application wasn’t lodged until 1850 and it was gazetted in the State Government Gazette of December 11, 1850. 


This is notice in the Port Phillip Government Gazette of December 11, 1850 concerning Martha King's lease of the Bunguyan property, near modern day Tyabb. http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/
In 1856, Martha purchased the 160 acre pre-emptive right of Bunguyan (which was on the south east corner of modern day O’Neills Road and Frankston Flinders Road in Tyabb). The property was sold in February 1860. Martha King then moved to the property owned by her daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Richard Rogers,  Tanti Grange, in what was then called Schnapper Point and is now known as Mornington. She died there on August 11, 1860 and was buried in the old cemetery that was located on the corner of Queen Street and Victoria Street in Melbourne (now the site of the Victoria market) There is a memorial plaque to Martha King at the Bunguyan Reserve in Tyabb. 

Mrs King's death notice in The Argus of August 14, 1860Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Martha’s son John King  was appointed the first Town Clerk of the newly established Melbourne City Council in December 1842 and was later a Member of the Legislative Assembly and later still the business manager of The Argus.  You can read his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography here.

Source: Western Port: Pioneers and Preachers by Valda Cole. Published by The Hawthorn Press, 1975.

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Reading Rewards - reviews -

Tempting Fate by Jane Green

When Gabby first met Elliott she knew he was the man for her. In twenty years of marriage she has never doubted her love for him - even when he refused to give her the one thing she still wants most of all. But now their two daughters are growing up Gabby feels that time and her youth are slipping away. For the first time in her life she is restless. And then she meets Matt . . .

Intoxicated by the way this young, handsome and successful man makes her feel, Gabby is momentarily blind to what she stands to lose on this dangerous path. And in one reckless moment she destroys all that she holds dear.

Consumed by regret, Gabby does everything she can to repair the home she has broken. But are some betrayals too great to forgive?

Another fantastic, realistic book from Jane Green. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed all her books. This story is about Gabby who is happily married with two daughters, but one night that changes everything, and she tells about the consequences and the impact it has on her once happy family. I listened to this on audio book which was narrated by Jane Green herself - she did a fantastic job.
Janine

Toyo

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Toyo by Lily Chan.

Blending the intimacy of memoir with an artist's vision, Toyo is the story of a remarkable woman, a vivid picture of Japan before and after war, and an unpredictable tale of courage and change in today's Australia. 

Born into the traditional world of pre-war Osaka, Toyo must always protect the secret of her parents' true relationship. Her father lives in China with his wife; her unmarried mother runs a café. Toyo and her mother are beautiful and polite, keeping themselves in society's good graces. Then comes the rain of American bombs. Toyo's life is uprooted again and again. With each sharp change and painful loss, she becomes more herself and more aware of where she has come from. She finds family and belief, but still clings to her parents' secret. In Toyo, Lily Chan has pieced together the unconventional shape of her grandmother's story. Vibrant and ultimately heart-rending, Toyo is the chronicle of an extraordinary life, infused with a granddaughter's love. 

This is a beautiful tribute written by a granddaughter about her grandmother’s unusual story from her pre-war relationship.  It reads like a novel but blends the fascinating culture and history of the times. 
Pru 

Ghost House- Alexandra Adornetto

Quicksand -

A girl with a gift...or perhaps a curseA boy who with dark secrets buried
And a story that simply won’t die…
Chloe Kennedy, 17 years old and once quite normal; but alas no more. Now Chloe is motherless awash in grief and haunted by the dead, she thought she had banished from her life. Sent halfway around the world with her grandmother and brother in tow Chloe soon meets Alex, a boy carrying his own burden of grief and loss. An unlikely friendship is forged in their common grief and soon Chloe is learning to accept and live with her new life circumstances; a life without her mother but plenty of ghosts. However as the past and the present begin to collide in dangerous ways it will be up to Chloe to settle the past even if it might risk her future.
There is an old saying that things get better with age and this rings true in respect the writing talents of Adornetto. First published at 13 I have been a reader of Adornetto’s for many years and have enjoyed watching with each series her novels mature. Ghost House is her most sophisticated tale yet, adding her own twists to the traditional ghosts stories, Adornetto has created a story and characters uniquely her own. As with all her books what stands out here is Adornetto’s way with words; she manages to forge strong connections between the reader and the characters, especially in regards to the protagonist Chloe, whose every emotion from grief, to anger to indignation seeps through the pages and into the reader. Chloe is a pleasure to read, she is real in her emotions and actions, and manages to be sarcastic without being rude. She is an engaging and likeable protagonists who will have you hooked on reading. Alex, is an untraditional male protagonists, he is not billed at the “flawlessly perfect” male of most YA fiction these days, which is refreshing and I like that he remains a man of his time, for not only is it realistic but it also makes for some interesting interactions between the characters. Ghost house is a story that will excite you, there are some fantastical and unpredictable plot twists that make this a page turner and the characters themselves are so endearing that you will find it hard to let go. Get excited about this one, it is perhaps the best writing so far of one of Australia’s most promising writers. I absolutely cannot wait to see where Adornetto take this…because I have no idea and I love that.

Courtney :)

Love, Rosie

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern

Sometimes fate just can't stop meddling... Since childhood, Rosie and Alex have stuck by each other through thick and thin. But they're separated when Alex and his family move from Dublin to America. Their magical connection remains but can their friendship survive the years and miles? Misunderstandings, circumstances and sheer bad luck have kept them apart - until now. But will they gamble everything - including their friendship - on true love? And what twists and surprises does fate have in store for them this time? 

I really enjoyed this book. I read it because the movie version is coming out soon. It was first published as WHERE RAINBOWS END, but has now been filmed as LOVE, ROSIE. The majority of the book is told in either letter/instant message/phone call and is a traditional chick lit book by this popular Irish author. Highly recommended for light feel-good readers.
Janine

Shearwater

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Shearwater by Andrea Mayes 

From the cover:  Cassie Callinan is a dutiful corporate wife, carefully preserving the safety of the status quo and her husband's camellias. When she learns she has lost her husband to a younger woman, she panics. Who is she, without the familiar props of her marriage? Fleeing her own life, Cassie finds herself amongst the eccentric inhabitants of Shearwater, an isolated coastal village. Against her will, she is gradually drawn into the life of the town with all its dramas, joy and secrets, and begins to discover who she really is. 

This is a depressing story, one that starts as character-driven then unwinding slowly to morph into a mystery but hardly a gripping one. The writing is quite lyrical at times, painting a picture of the sea and sand in all its seasonal forms and the birds...  I loved that.  But the rest is fairly pedestrian and basically it was a mildly interesting time-filler narrated well by Marie-Louise Walker.  This was a Bolinda e-audiobook download, but we also have it in hard copy and audio CD.
Deb.  

Berwick Grammar School 1882-1928 and the Vieusseux family

Links to our Past - history -

Berwick Grammar School began in 1882 as a private school owned by the Head Master, Edward Vieusseux (1854-1917). Edward was the third son of Louis and Julie Vieusseux who had arrived in Melbourne in 1852. Louis was a Civil Engineer, but in 1857 opened a private school for girls, Valetta House Ladies College, in Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, where the Freemasons Hospital now stands. Edward had two older brothers, Stephen who died at 15 months and Lewis, the eldest boy, who disappeared on a family picnic in January 1858. Lewis, aged seven. was riding behind the family buggy on a stock horse, went off the track to look at something and his riderless pony returned but Lewis did not.  His body was found two years later, by a wood cutter, about ten miles from where he had disappeared.

Edward had worked at Jacob Hessel's boarding school in Harkaway, at the property Ratharnay, from 1880 and previous to this he had taught at Geelong Grammar. His father, who as we know had operated  his own school for many years, financed the purchase of a house in Berwick for his son to operate a school  and so Berwick Grammar school began.

The property they purchased was on the corner of Brisbane Street and Church Street and had been used by Miss Adelaide Robinson as a girls school from when it was built in 1877. It was on 1.5 acres of land.


The Berwick Grammar School, now  a private house.
It is  not known how many boys were enrolled in the early years of Berwick Grammar, there are apparently no school rolls in existence and it is thought that around 400 students were educated there over the life of the school. The South Bourke and Mornington Journal has a report of the first prize night and Mr Vieusseux is reported to have said that attendance has  not been as numerous as it might have been, still there has been an increase during each succeeding quarter; and the many inquiries and promises of pupils for the coming year, lead me to anticipate and excellent commencement for 1884.


South Bourke and Mornington Journal December 26, 1883http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70042389
The same article also has  a list of  the honour recipients, which gives us some idea of the subjects on offer and also some of the pupils names.
South Bourke and Mornington Journal December 26, 1883http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70042389
The subjects included English, Geography, French, Writing, Latin, Conduct, Mathematics. Gymnastics and  Music. Students in the first year inlcluded F. A'Beckett, R. A'Beckett, F. Britten, A. Brunet, G. Brunet, D. Clark, G. Clark, F. Coppin, G. Coppin,  T. Dwyer, F. Elmes, J. Hennings, A. Kent,  D. MacKinnon and G. Warry, 
Edward Vieusseux unexpectedly died on November 6, 1917, aged 63. the School then became affiliated with the Church of England, who acquired the buildings. The School then went through a succession of Head Masters, eight in eleven years until it closed in 1928 - The Reverend P.P McLaren became Head Master at the start of 1918, he was replaced by the Reverend Charles Zercho in 1920; in 1922 Mr Hancock took over, then the Reverend Douglas Howard, Mr Charles Kenrick, Mr Paul Polan, Mr J. H Morgan and lastly the  Reverend Hubert Brooksbank. The building became the short lived Winchester House Grammar school, then a guest house. From 1949 until 1972.  Mary Blackwood, who was on the staff at the Diocesan Office in St Pauls Cathedral.  used the building to train teachers and for a holiday camp for 'Christian Holidays' for children. The Building was named Mary Blackwood house after her. It then became a Community school, until 1977 when it was used as a place of instruction into the Jewish faith. The Church of England (or Anglican church) finally sold the building in  1990.
There is an Avenue of Honour in Church Street and a memorial plaque to the nine past students of Berwick Grammar School who were killed in World War One. You can read more about this here.
Here's some family information about Edward Vieusseux.  He was married in 1877 to Emily Ross. They had four children -  Lewis John (1879-1890) Edward Telford (1881-1887) Dorothy Jean (1888-1921) and Nellie Phyllis (1889-1914). It was a sad situation that three of the children pre deceased their father and the four of them pre deceased their mother, Emily, who died in 1940, aged 83. All the family are buried in the Berwick cemetery.

John Bellair has written an interesting history of the Berwick Grammar School, which is where I obtained some of the information for this post.  John was sent to board at the School in 1918 when he was eight years old. We have a Reference copy of the book at Narre Warren and you can purchase a copy at the Berwick Mechanics' Institute 15 High Street Berwick www.berwickmilibrary.org.au
I have created a  list about the Berwick Grammar School and the Vieusseux family on Trove, click here to access the list. 

Clay Gully

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Clay Gully: stories from an Apple Orchard
 by Sally van Gent

Sally van Gent wonders how to utilise the beautiful land of Clay Gully. Goats? A vineyard? Remembering the sweet fruit she ate as a child she decides to establish a heritage apple orchard. She sets to work - and soon enough, rains falter, bugs, birds and feral animals attack the trees, and a snake takes refuge in the leg of her jeans. As the drought takes its toll and animals in the surrounding bush begin to suffer, Sally fights to keep her orchard alive. 

This delightful biography, set in country Victoria would make a perfect gift.  It is beautifully illustrated with line drawings of her dogs, the wildlife and seasonal activities in the orchard with all its challenges - the drought settling in and her struggles to keep the orchard alive.  

Pru.

The Girl on the Landing

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Girl on the Landing by Paul Torday

From the cover:  A ghost story, a psychological thriller and a tale of love rediscovered, The Girl on the Landing is the gripping new novel from the author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

The novel begins as Michael, a middle-aged man of means, is dressing for dinner at a friend's country house in Ireland. As he descends the grand staircase, he spots a small painting of a landing with an old linen press and a white marble statue of an angel. In the background is a woman clad in a dark green dress. During dinner, Michael comments on the painting to his hosts but they say there is no woman in the picture. When Michael goes up to bed later, he sees that they are correct. This is only the first in a series of incidents that lead Michael to question his grip on reality. His wife Elilzabeth is unsettled by the changes she sees in a man she originally married and she is aware that she has never really known him. Michael, in the meantime, is disturbed by events at his family's ancestral home in the wilds of Scotland and by a past that is threatening to destroy everything, and everyone, he has ever loved.   

This is a very conflicting novel.  Is it indeed a ghost story or a psychological thriller?  It is initially so mind-numbingly boring I can’t think why I stuck with it.  It’s so terribly, terribly English, said in my best Mayfair accent, with its Men’s club for dinner and bridge, a spot of golf, whiskey and water in crystal glasses and ‘shall we hunt deer on the weekend, what?’ Further in, it changes and we confront mental illness, schizophrenia and psychotic drugs and become aware of a rather menacing undercurrent.  By the end of it, it is a gripping thriller; and if that's not enough, a rather  haunting and disturbing epilogue winds it all up.  At one stage near the end, I had to Google ‘Lamia’, and now I wish I hadn’t. 

I listened to the playaway format which was cleverly narrated by Clare Wille as Elizabeth and David Monteath as Michael/Mikey but we also have this in other audio and print formats. 

The author, Paul Torday, passed away last year.   After the success of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen in 2006, he wrote The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce, then this one, followed by The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers, More Than You Can Say, The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall, and Light Shining in the Forest. I wonder if all of them are as disturbing as The Girl on the Landing? 
Deb. 

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