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Watching Edie

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Watching Edie by Camilla Way

Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then - but it didn't take long for her to learn that things don't always turn out the way you want them to. 

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there's no one to turn to ... But someone's been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. 

It's no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie's doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them - so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie's about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply, or who we have hurt, never let us go, not entirely.

Heather was an overweight, friendless 16-year-old, an academic achiever with strict parents who had moved to the good side of a rather grim English town. Heather struggled to fit in, so when new arrival Edie, one of the cool girls and a budding artist, is happy to be her friend she’s surprised and becomes besotted with her.

But Edie, who lives with her sick, disinterested mother and hasn’t seen her father for years, has fallen for bad boy Connor. It’s not long before Edie is in all kinds of trouble, with drugs, alcohol and her increasingly abusive relationship with Connor. Heather tries to help Edie by hatching an escape plan but this only leads to a terrible event that destroys their lives.  A chilling story of two friends with a shared and shameful past that has each of them in their clutches and won’t let go.

Why we love it: 
Watching Edie is a gripping psychological thriller about friendship, jealousy, obsession, and lies that hooked us from the start.

~ from The Team at Better Reading


Baby Doll

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Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

You've been held captive in one room, mentally and physically abused every day since you were sixteen years old. Then, one night, you realize your captor has left the door to your cell unlocked. For the first time in eight years, you're free. This is about what happens next ... 

Lily knows that she must bring the man who nearly ruined her life to justice. But she never imagined that reconnecting with her family would be just as difficult. Reclaiming her relationship with her twin sister, her mother, and her high school sweetheart, who is in love with her sister, may be Lily's greatest challenge. After all they've been through, can Lily and her family find their way back after this life-altering trauma?

Wow, what a great example of Domestic Noir! This story starts with Lily and her daughter Sky (who was fathered by her captor) escaping from their prison of eight years and running for their lives, only to realise that they are just a few kilometres from home. Just imagine being kept in one room and being used like a "baby doll" by this man is unthinkable. 

This is the story of what happens once Lily returns home.  She finds her twin sister is now having a baby with Lily's high school sweetheart, and her captor is a well known and respected man in society. The book changes viewpoint all throughout the story from Lily, to her mother Eve, her twin sister Abby and her former captor, Rick. 

I found myself completely engaged in this story very early on and that momentum continued right till the end. Oddly enough, the story begins AFTER the main event is over and done with, which is an interesting way to write a book. This is Hollie Overton's debut novel and I will definitely be keeping her future books on my radar. It will appeal to fans of Gone Girl and Girl on the train.

~ Janine

The Radium Girls

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The Radium Girls: they paid with their lives, their final fight was for justice by Kate Moore

As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous - the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls. 

As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive - their work - was in fact slowly killing them: they had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering - in the face of death - these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice. 

Drawing on previously unpublished sources - including diaries, letters and court transcripts, as well as original interviews with the women's relatives - The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties, who themselves learned how to roar.

In the early twentieth century radium was thought to be a “wonder drug”, promoted as giving anyone who took it a “healthy glow”. In these early years it was not known that radium is actually a poison, which causes horrific cancers, disfigurement and death. So, the US girls who flocked to work in the factories to paint clock faces with this luminous substance had no reason to doubt their employers’ reassurances that it would do them no harm. 

They followed the instructions to lick their paintbrushes dipped in radium solution before applying it to the clock-faces and dials, the better to obtain a fine point for the delicate work. But soon the women started getting sick – jaws literally disintegrated, red cell blood counts plummeted and hideous tumours grew. Yet still the owners of the factories denied there was any danger in the work they were doing or in the way they were instructed to carry it out.

This incredible book tells their story, how they fought for years for recognition that the radium paint was toxic, and for many more years for compensation for their injuries through the courts. It is an amazing and outrageous story of employer neglect and deceit, and how these cases became the trailblazers for workplace health and safety regulations which we take for granted today.

We all owe these women an enormous debt of gratitude. Read it and be thankful.

~ Teresa

The Couple Next Door

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

From the cover:
Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.
Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half-hour.
Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.
You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there…

Anne and Marco are the parents of little Cora. Cora goes missing in the middle of the night, the front door found open and the back door unlocked. But the parents weren’t home at the time. They were at a dinner party next door. With extreme grief and guilt, they need to work with the police to find their daughter. The parents are guilty of leaving their baby unattended, but are they guilty of child abduction or even murder? 

All may not be what it seems as the police race against the clock to find little Cora. There are so many twists and turns in the plot, maybe a little too much at times. It is a quick and easy read with the element of suspense. However I lost some confidence in the author towards the end of the book, as the plot got too busy for me, and the ending in my opinion, disappointed. 

This is a debut novel for Shari Lapena. Shari has worked as a lawyer and English teacher and has now turned to writing fiction. The Couple Next Door is worthy of consideration for those who are lovers of suspense and thrillers.

~ Narelle 

Davitt Awards shortlist

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Sisters in Crime has announced the longest shortlist (28) for its 16th Davitt Awards for best crime books written by Australian women. “The reason for such a long shortlist is simple,” said Jacqui Horwood, the Davitt Judges wrangler, “there are just so many outstanding debut books. The crime writing sorority is bursting with new and exciting authors with so many different takes on the genre.

“Non-fiction crime also packed a punch this year and we had trouble winnowing down the list. All round, the judges were thrilled by the enormous variety of protagonists, plots, places and perspectives and the high standard of writing.”

The Davitts are named after Ellen Davitt, the author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud, in 1865. The awards are handsome carved polished wooded trophies featuring the front cover of the winning novel under perspex. No prize money is attached.


Adult fiction:
Medea’s Curse: Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist by Anne Buist
Fall by Candice Fox
Give the Devil His Due by Sulari Gentill
Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry
Time to Run by J. M. Peace
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Non-Fiction:
Black Widow by Carol Baxter
Why Did They Do It? by Cheryl Critchley and Helen McGrath
The Sting by Kate Kyriacou
Wild Man by Alecia Simmonds
Behind Closed Doors by Sue Smetherst
You’re Just Too Good to Be True by Sofija Stefanovic

Debut:
In the Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker
Medea’s Curse: Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist by Anne Buist
Time to Run by J. M. Peace
Please Don’t Leave Me Here by Tania Chandler
Double Madness by Caroline de Costa
Risk by Fleur Ferris
Good Money by J. M. Green
The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic 

Australian crime writer Liane Moriarty will present the awards at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre on Saturday 27 August, 7pm. After talking about her ‘life in crime’ with true crime author Vikki Petraitis, Moriarty will present six awards: Best Adult Novel; Best Young Adult; Best Children’s Novel; Best Non-fiction Book; Best Debut Book (any category); and Readers’ Choice (as voted by the 600 members of Sisters in Crime Australia).

~ Deb.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. 

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

I’ve been a Harry Potter fan for years, so I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I heard there was going to be another book in the series!  As I heard more about it, my enthusiasm waned - it wasn’t going to be a novel like the previous books, it would be the script from the new London play; it wasn’t even going to be written by J.K. Rowling, only based on a story of hers. I went from eagerly awaiting the Cursed Child’s release to “Yeah, I’ll suppose I’ll read it when it gets released”.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released on Sunday (31 July, 2016), with the Library having copies ready to be borrowed by the public by Monday afternoon. I took my copy home with me and was more than pleasantly surprised.

Without giving away any spoilers, the book opens with the closing scene from The Deathly Hallows, allowing readers to picture it clearly and adjust to the new “script” format. From there it is a whirlwind of new faces, old faces, magic and mystery. I loved every minute of it and have my fingers crossed that the play will come to Melbourne so I can see it performed on stage.

~ Leanne

The Cullen boys of Cockatoo Creek

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

This is another post on brothers who enlisted, in the last post we looked at the Maher Brothers of Pakenham and in this post we will look at the four Cullen Brothers of Cockatoo Creek, as the town of Cockatoo used to be called. Interestingly, one of the enlistment papers has the address as Cockatoo Creek, Gembrook line, obviously referring to the 'Puffing Billy'  Railway line. The Cullen Brothers are the sons of Francis Patrick Cullen and Mary Jane Whitehead who married in New South Wales in 1883. They had seven children (there may be more)  the first three listed were born in Sydney, Francis (born 1884) Arthur Byrne (1886), Frederick (1888), Kathleen Mary (1890), Emily Margaret (1891) William Beechworth (1894) and Alfred Charles (1899). Mary Jane died in 1950, aged 91 and Francis died in 1942 aged 84.
The Argus May 26, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1519741

Here are the four brothers, including their Service Number (SN) so you can look up their full service record in the National Archives of Australia, www.naa.gov.au
Cullen, Alfred Charles (SN 2629)     Alfred first enlisted on September 6, 1915 and said he was 18 years old, but this was untrue. There is  a letter in his file from his father saying that his signature must have been forged as he didn't give permission and his son was only 16 years, ten months old. So Alfred was discharged less than two months later on October 31 for 'being a minor and enlisting without parents consent', He enlisted again as Christopher Patrick Cullen on March 11, 1916 aged 18. His occupation was listed as grocer. It appears that he was  bit of  a 'lad', and was charged with Desertion in November 1917, after having been reported as missing, but found guilty of being absent without leave, sentenced to ten years gaol, which was later commuted to two years and then suspended.  Christopher Returned to Australia July 5, 1919. His real name was actually Alfred Charles Cullen and there is a note in his file saying that in 1922 he signed a Statuary Declaration saying that he wasn't really Christopher. Alfred died in 1969.


National Archives of Australia www.naa.gov.au First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920

Cullen, Arthur Burns   (SN 1347 or 842) Arthur seems to have two Service Numbers and  is listed as having the same Service Number as his brother Frederick. Arthur enlisted on September 21, 1914 aged 25. His occupation was labourer. Arthur Returned to Australia on  December 3, 1918.
Cullen, Frederick  (SN 1347)   Frederick enlisted on the same day as his brother, William, November 11, 1914. He was a 26 year old Saw Mill hand. He was wounded in action - bullet wound to forehead, - and Returned to Australia in September 1915, but then obviously returned to serve overseas and he was  Killed in Action in Belgium on October 19, 1917. 


The Argus November 14, 1917http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1663051

Cullen, William Beechworth (SN 1348) William enlisted on November 11, 1914 aged 21. His Occupation was sawyer. William Returned to Australia on  March 11, 1916 and discharged on medical grounds as he was suffering from nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) William died in 1957.

The Lost Swimmer

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The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner

Rebecca Wilding, an archaeology professor, traces the past for a living. But suddenly, truth and certainty is turning against her. Rebecca is accused of serious fraud, and worse, she suspects – she knows – that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair. Desperate to find answers, Rebecca leaves with Stephen for Greece, Italy and Paris, where she can uncover the conspiracy against her, and hopefully win Stephen back to her side, where he belongs. There’s too much at stake – her love, her work, her family. 

But on the idyllic Amalfi Coast, Stephen goes swimming and doesn’t come back. In a swirling daze of panic and fear, Rebecca is dealt with fresh allegations. And with time against her, she must uncover the dark secrets that stand between her and Stephen, and the deceit that has chased her halfway around the world.

I loved this book. The description of the coast of Italy and its people are beautiful.  The twists and turns in the plot are puzzling and I did find myself worrying at how little pages there were left to tie everything up, but Ann Turner manages to do just that with aplomb.

~ Claire

The Saddler Boys

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The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead. 

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew. 

As Nat's school comes under threat of closure and Billy's estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her society life in Perth and the rural community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she's really made of - and where she truly belongs.

This delightful rural fiction book is set in Western Australia. Fiona Palmer has written from experience because she herself lives in a small town in WA on a farm with her husband and children. I really loved this novel - it was well written and easy to listen to. The story flowed naturally and held me spellbound as the characters developed and relationships formed with intriguing twists and turns. She touches upon modern issues such as single parenting, small town matters, bullying, domestic abuse and children who are developmentally challenged. I listened to the audio book which was excellently narrated by Danielle Baynes. It is also available in print format.

~ Janine

Last Painting of Sara de Vos

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The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain - a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. 

An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the picture, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive. 

As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present.

Just as in “All the Light We cannot See” the story here is very strong and propels the reader along. The setting is in three eras and three continents with the interconnecting thread "At the Edge of a Wood.  All the characters are believable and it’s refreshing to see a fictional Australian woman featured prominently in what is now an international best seller. 

I listened to the audio and although I admire Edoardo Ballerini, the voice actor, unfortunately he’s unable to pull off the Aussie accent. He does, however, inadvertently manage South African very well! I did find this off putting and it has made me aware of the complexity of our lingo! 

This book was highly enjoyable and I’d recommend it to all art lovers, and lovers of contemporary historical fiction. 

~ Ali 

Blame

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Blame by Nicole Trope

Anna and Caro have been firm friends since they met at their local early childhood centre with their babies. For the next ten years the two of them become great friends, always there for the each other in their lowest times. But all that changes in just one day when a terrible accident tears both of their families apart. The narrative alternates between the two women’s voices. Each of their stories is shocking and there’s blame on both sides, but who is really at fault and which one of them is lying?

Why we love it: 
Blame is an intense and shocking novel, a darkly humorous story that cuts straight into the broken lives of two suburban women whose experience of motherhood are a far-cry from rosy social media stereotypes.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

Mobile Library at Cockatoo by Marcia Holdsworth

Links to our Past - history -

A few years ago, Marcia wrote a short history of  Library Services at Cockatoo, and so they don't get lost from our history I thought we would share them in this blog.

Before 1983, the Dandenong Valley Regional Library Service (DVRLS) Mobile library, a Bedford Bus, used to visit Cockatoo once a fortnight for a few hours. It parked in the car park at the top of McBride Street, above the shops.  The staff used a Telxon device to record loans and the data was then downloaded via the telephone back at the Pakenham library.



The Bedford Bus Mobile Library
After the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983 DVRLS set up a joint-use Community Library in an area of the Cockatoo Primary School library. It opened around May of that year and Marcia Holdsworth was appointed Officer in Charge in the October. The Library initially opened to the general public Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning. The cost effectiveness of the Community Library was re-assessed in 1992 and after negotiations with the School it was decided to phase out the service and re-introduce a Mobile Library Service.

Thus in January 1993 the Mobile timetable was expanded to include a stop at Cockatoo. The mobile had been recently upgraded to a brand new semi-trailer mobile provided by the then Pakenham Shire. It now parked at the Cockatoo Kindergarten/Bowling green car park in McBride Street. The new vehicle visited every Thursday afternoon until 7.30pm and with the extended hours the circulation increased. The Mobile Library still visits Cockatoo every Thursday from 1.30pm until 7.30pm.


This is the only photo we have of the Cockatoo Library, sadly, it's fairly ordinary quality. It was taken by the Shire of Pakenham in the 1980s.

Ned Kelly Awards - shortlist

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Australian Crime Writers Association has announced the shortlists for the 2016 Ned Kelly Awards for the best in Australian crime writing. The judging panel is made up of booksellers, book industry luminaries, readers, critics, reviewers and commentators.

The 2016 shortlists are:

BEST FICTION
This year’s fiction award is shaping up as a battle of the heavyweights with five former winners on the list, including two multiple winners and rounded out by rock musician, author and screenwriter Dave Warner whose eighth novel is his first in fifteen years.

Mark Dapin - R&R 
Garry Disher - The Heat
Candice Fox - Fall
Adrian McKinty - Rain Dogs
Barry Maitland - Ash Island
Dave Warner - Before it Breaks 


BEST TRUE CRIME
The True Crime shortlist features authors tackling subjects that range from the operation to unmask the killer of schoolboy Daniel Morcombe - The Sting by Kate Kyriacou; the now infamous Graham Thorne kidnapping for ransom in 1960 - Kidnapped by Mark Tedeschi; and a long-forgotten murder that captivated Melbourne society in 1949 - Certain Admissions by Gideon Haigh; plus Martin McKenzie-Murray's A Murder Without Motive and 
Rebecca Poulson's Killing Love.

BEST FIRST FICTION
Tania Chandler - Please Don't Leave Me Here
J M Green - Good Money
Mark Hollands - Amplify
Gary Kemble - Skin Deep
Iain Ryan - Four Days 
Emma Viskic - Resurrection Bay 

This year’s NED KELLY AWARDS will be presented during the Melbourne Writers Festival at a free event including live music, storytelling and door prizes on Sunday August 28 at 4.00 p.m. at TOFF IN THE TOWN, 252 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000.

For further details, contact the Australian Crime Writers Association http://www.austcrimewriters.com/ned-kelly-awards-page


~ Deb

Journey's End

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Journey's End by Jennifer Scoullar

When Sydney botanist Kim Sullivan and her husband inherit Journey's End, a rundown farm high on the Great Eastern Escarpment, they dream of one day restoring it to its natural state. Ten years later, however, Kim is tragically widowed. 

Selling up is the only practical option, so she and her children head to the mountains to organise the sale. The last thing Kim expects is for Journey's End to cast its wild spell on them all. The family decide to stay, and Kim forges on with plans to rewild the property, propagating plants and acquiring a menagerie of native animals. But wayward wildlife, hostile farmers and her own lingering grief make the task seem hopeless. That is, until she meets the mysterious Taj, a man who has a way with animals. Kim begins to feel that she might find love again. But Taj has his own tragic past - one that could drive a wedge between them that can not be overcome.

This is the first book I have read by author Jennifer Scoullar - a local living in Pakenham Upper on a beautiful property in the hills - and it certainly won't be the last!  It's a story of friendship, renewal, racism, war, wild life rescue, rainforest, love and environmental issues. Jennifer writes with such knowledge about environmental matters, but it's not surprising. Her father set up a nursery specialising in native plants, long before it was fashionable to so, and passed on his lifelong love of horses and the bush.  

I was glued to this book and really didn't want it to end. It will go down as one of my best reads this year.

~ Janine



Breaking Cover

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Breaking Cover by Stella Rimington

#9 Liz Carlyle series.
Back in London after a gruelling operation in Paris, Liz Carlyle has been posted to MI5's counter-espionage desk. 

British relations with Russia are tense in the wake of Putin's incursions into the Ukraine. Discovering that an elusive Russian spy has entered the UK, Liz needs to track him down before he completes his fatal mission - and plunges Britain back into the Cold War. 

Meanwhile, following the revelations of Edward Snowden, the intelligence services are in the spotlight. MI6 hires Jasminder Kapoor, a controversial civil rights lawyer, to explain the issues around privacy and security to the public. But in this new world of shadowy motives, Jasminder must careful about whom she trusts. One night Kapoor is brutally mugged and almost raped in a seemingly random attack, but is saved in the nick of time by a feisty Norwegian who happened to be passing by. She strikes up a romance with the handsome banker but there’s something about him that seems too good to be true.

Why we love it: 
In Breaking Cover, veteran MI5 insider and author Stella Rimington delivers a clever, fast-paced and timely espionage thriller that reflects up-to-the minute current events and her own insider knowledge of the intelligence services.

~ from The Team at Better Reading 

Rain Music

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Rain Music by Di Morrissey
Narrated by David Tredinnick

Brother and sister Ned and Bella Chisholm are struggling with a family tragedy that has set them on opposite paths. After taking off to pursue his musical dreams in Far North Queensland, Ned disappears. When Bella goes in search of him, she finds herself in remote Cooktown, the isolated, little-known gem of the far north of Australia, and a place where both Ned and Bella's lives will be dramatically changed forever. This is one story told through two sets of eyes.

Di Morrissey is part of the Australian fiction landscape. Her first novel, Heart of the Dreaming, was published in 1991 and became a best-seller, establishing a demand for Australian-based stories.  All her novels are inspired by landscape with environmental, political and cultural issues woven into mass market popular fiction. Rain Music was inspired by her adventures in Far North Queensland - its characters, its forgotten history, its modern dilemmas.

I've read, and forgotten, a lot of Di Morrissey novels over the years. They are holiday fodder, airport gate lounge fillers, but nonetheless entertaining for a short while with their character-driven plots, artless dialogue and immediately recognisable Aussie settings.  Morrissey's audiobooks are nearly always narrated by Kate Hood whom I find intensely irritating to listen to, but when I saw the talented David Tredinnick noted on this one, I couldn't resist.  He's just as good as always, and she's still Di Morrissey, as always.

~ Deb 

The Natural Way of Things

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The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Two women awaken from a drugged sleep to find themselves imprisoned in a broken-down property in the middle of nowhere. Strangers to each other, they have no idea where they are or how they came to be there with eight other girls, forced to wear strange uniforms, their heads shaved, guarded by two inept yet vicious armed jailers and a ‘nurse’. The girls all have something in common, but what is it? 

What crime has brought them here from the city? Who is the mysterious security company responsible for this desolate place with its brutal rules, its total isolation from the contemporary world? 

Doing hard labour under a sweltering sun, the prisoners soon learn what links them: in each girl’s past is a sexual scandal with a powerful man. They pray for rescue – but when the food starts running out it becomes clear that the jailers have also become the jailed. The girls can only rescue themselves.

The novel is set somewhere in the Australian outback, so isolated there are no made roads, and takes place at an abandoned sheep farm. This farm becomes the institution for ten young women who have been drugged, abducted and imprisoned there. They are under the surveillance of two men, Teddy and Boncer, and one woman, Nancy, a sham-nurse. All three are nasty, vindictive and brutal.

The only link for these ten incarcerated women is all have had sexual encounters of some kind or another which has been blamed on them. Now they are there to pay the price. The Natural Way of Things demonstrates the animal instincts which can be found in all of us when we have, or need, the will to survive.

However, this book left more questions than answers for me. Although it was an easy, quick and intriguing read, I found myself disappointed with the protagonists’ acceptance of their plight in a dystopian environment. There were so many contradictions with Verla and Yolanda, two women who seemed strong in so many ways and yet still allowed weakness in other ways. This title would be worthy of consideration for book groups though, as it can create great discussion on the themes of abandonment, survival, brutality, and power.

~ Narelle


Maher brothers of Pakenham

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

I thought we would take  a look at some brothers who enlisted in the War, because it's an interesting to think about how their family back home must have felt - it would be stressful enough with one son enlisting let alone two or, in this case, three sons. We have found examples of three brothers enlisting before. Frederick, John and Julian Whiston were from Garfield, you can read about them here; Alfred, Charles and Norman Kent were from Narre Warren and you can read about them here.

This post looks at  three sons of Stephen and Bridget  (nee Ryan) Maher of Pakenham. Stephen was a member of the Police Force and he was stationed at Pakenham for a number of years from around 1912 until he retired in 1920, after 33 years of service.Stephen and Catherine had ten children, Rosaline (born 1886), Cathleen (1888), Florence Mary (1890), Olive Veronica (1893), Stephen Raymond (1894), John Thomas (1896), Thomas Francis (1899), Daniel Michael (1901) and Leonard Joseph (1903) Mary Monica (1905). According to a report in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal of June 17, 1920 after his retirement he planned to take up farming and grazing on a property he has acquired locally. Stephen died in April 1931 aged 70 and is buried at Pakenham and Bridget died in January 1939 aged 77 and is buried at Box Hill. You can read an obituary of Bridget in The Advocate here and her death notice from The Advocate is below.

The Advocate February 9, 1939http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page20416484
The three sons of Stephen and Bridget who served overseas were Raymond Stephen (called Roy on his enlistment papers), John Thomas  and Thomas Francis. Mrs Maher's obituary said that four sons enlisted in the Great War, three seeing active service so I presume that the fourth son must have been Daniel who was born 1901, but that would still have made him only 17 when the War ended, so not sure about that and Leonard would have been far too young.

Roy (Service Number (SN) 2228) enlisted on August 27 1914 at the age of 20, occupation Labourer. He served in Gallipoli and France and Returned to Australia October 8, 1918.

John Thomas  (SN 1049) enlisted at the age of 21 on June 14, 1915. He is confusingly called Thomas on the Embarkation Roll.  He Returned to Australia on July 3, 1919. John also served in World War Two, he enlisted in December 1940 and was discharged in June 1944, when he was nearly 48 years old.

Thomas Francis (SN 50190) was an 18 year old student when he enlisted on October 22, 1917.   Corporal Thomas Maher Returned to Australia on July 23, 1919. Thomas was granted an 80 acre Soldier Settlement farm on his return, you can read his full record here on the Battle to Farm website.


Pakenham Gazette  November 1 1918http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92153257


Pakenham Gazette July 15, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88656917
Roy sent a letter home to his parents in 1915, he makes it all sound rather pleasant as though he was on holiday and not just having survived Gallipoli,  but obviously was restricted in what he could write. It's  a lovely letter and interesting letter and I have transcribed it below. It was published in the Pakenham Gazette.

AT THE DARDANELLES..
Mrs Maher, wife of Constable Maher, Pakenham, has received the following letter from her son Ray, who is fighting the Turks and Germans at the Dardanelles.

I received your most welcome letter a little time ago. We are back again from the Dardanelles, as there is not space to get the horses off, and the mules can do better there, as the country is very hilly and rough. We have a nice camp out from Alexandria about nine miles, with a train running right through the camp, and the tram within 10 minutes walk. Best of all, the beach is only about a quarter of an hour's walk. We go down to swim the horses now and then, but go our selves every evening, It is where all the tourists come for their holidays, and there are a lot of English and French people there, so we have a good time with them.  I only wish I could speak French; I can only speak a little of it, also a little Egyptian just enough to be understood.  

The people here seemed to think Australia .only a little island, but they were surprised to hear that it is bigger than Europe, and that most of the inhabitants are white, instead of black, as they thought. I am writing this in the horse lines, as I am on stable guard, taking the place of my mate, who wanted to go to the races. The sun is about 200 in the shade - that is what it feels, at any rate; and the flies would drive a fellow mad.  

Most of our chaps are at the Dardanelles, but a lot of us had to come back with the horses. Many of our men who were wounded are going back in a day or two; they are getting well again.

I think Italy will make a difference when she comes into the war; she will make the war end sooner. 

I must bring this letter to a close, with love to all at home from Ray.

The Twisted Knot

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Twisted Knot by J. M. Peace

A marked man. A damaged cop. A town full of secrets. After her abduction and near death at the hands of a sadistic killer, Constable Samantha Willis is back in the uniform. Despite being on desk duty, rumours reach Sammi that Someone in Angel's Crossing has been hurting little girls, and before long a mob is gathering to make sure justice is served. So when a man is found hanging in his shed, the locals assume the pedophile has finally given in to his guilt. That is, until Sammi delves further into the death and uncovers a dark family secret, an unsolved crime and a town desperate for vengeance.

J M Peace is an Australian serving police officer based in Queensland, and you can tell that she writes with experience and gives you a great insight into policing, especially in a small town.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series "A Time to Run" . This book - #2 in the series - is an edge of your seat read and keeps you guessing until the very end which had a fantastic twist that I did not see coming at all.  I eagerly look forward to reading her next book to continue the story of Constable Sammi Willis.

~ Janine


The local Catholic Community from the pages of The Advocate

Links to our Past - history -

The Advocate is available on Trove from 1868 until 1954. The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne website provides this great summary of this paper Melbourne’s Advocate was one of Australia’s great Catholic newspapers. It was first published on 1 February 1868 by Samuel Vincent Winter and his brother Joseph to report on events in Australia and overseas from the viewpoint of the Catholic paradigm. Its goal was to “fairly and intelligently represent the Catholic and Irish section of the community, and, while defending their legitimate interests, would aim at promoting the prosperity of the colony, and cultivating a friendly feeling among all classes of the community”. In 1902, The Advocate imported a font of Irish type and became the first newspaper in Australia to be able to print the Gaelic language. In 1919, The Advocate was bought by the Archdiocese of Melbourne and became its official newspaper. The Advocate remained a weekly newspaper up until it ceased publication in 1990. 

 In this post we will take a look at the sorts of local historical information we can find in The Advocate, concentrating on reports of the opening of Catholic Churches in the Casey Cardinia region, but before we do here is a short overview of the Parish structure in the area. As early as the 1840s Priests from Melbourne used to visit the area - Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon and the Western Port region. In 1853  the Brighton Misson was established, a very large area that covered the south east part of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Bass Coast and West Gippsland. In April 1883 the Dandenong Parish or Mission  was established which covered nearly all of the Casey Cardinia region, plus Dandenong, Phillip Island, down to Wonthaggi and the Mornington Peninsula. This Parish was eventually split up with the Iona Parish being created in 1905, Koo-Wee-Rup in 1946, St Mary's North Tynong (or Maryknoll) in 1950 (combined with Iona in 1968), Pakenham in 1954, Berwick (including Cranbourne) in 1956, Doveton in 1962, Cranbourne in 1973, Endeavour Hills in 1980 and Narre Warren in 1982. This information and some of the information in the rest of this post comes from A Parish carved from the bush: the centenary history of the Dandenong Parish, 1883-1983.

Back to The Advocate -  the first Catholic Church in the area was St Agatha's at Cranbourne which was opened on February 6, 1861, so a bit too early to be reported in The Advocate. However, the  second St Agatha's which was opened on January 20, 1929 had a full page report, which you can read here. This church was opened by Archbishop Mannix and the total cost including fit-out was just over 3,100 pounds. The current St Agatha's was built in 1981. This Church was partially funded by a generous bequeath of $492,000 from Mr Eddie Donnelly who passed away in 1979. You can read more of the history on their website   http://www.stagathas.org.au/



The opening of St Agatha's Church at Cranbourne in 1929 with the original weatherboard Church next to it.
The next church to open was St Patrick's in Pakenham which opened in 1871. The existing Church was built in 1976. The original Church is still standing and is now part of the St Patrick's School.


A report on the building of St Patricks in The Advocate July 29, 1871.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170154046


An early photo of St Patricks at Pakenham.Source: North of the Line:  a pictorial record published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical society
The first Berwick Catholic Church was officially opened by Archbishop Goold on March 31, 1878. It was originally known as St Joseph's, but later changed to  St Michael's. The Advocate described the Church as a handsome and commodius edifice. You can read the full report here. The second Church at Berwick was opened on January 24 1937 by Archbishop Mannix.  The Advocate had  full report, including photographs, which you can read here.  The old wooden church was removed having been sold to Dan Cunningham of Nar Nar Goon, but burnt down before he could use it. The current St Michael's Church was opened in 1984.
Archbishop Mannix at the opening of St Michael's in Berwick in 1937.The Advocate January 28, 1937.http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article171926375
St Joseph's at Iona was the next Church to be opened, which took place on December 16, 1900. Iona was  known as Bunyip South until 1905. The current St Joseph's Church was opened on April 14 1940. You can read The Advocate report about this  here.


The opening of St Joseph's Iona in December 1900.The Advocate December 22, 1900http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article169870021


Iona Church and Presbytery, c. 1909Photo: 100 years of a faith community: St Joseph’s Iona 1905-2005 by Damian Smith (St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 2005)

The first decade of the twentieth century continued to be  a busy time for the Dandenong Mission with three other Churches  established. Two years after Iona, another Church was opened on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, this time at Koo-Wee-Rup. St John the Baptist Church  was opened on August 24, 1902. You can read about this here. The current Church, built in Modernist Design, was opened in 1962. The Nar Nar Goon Catholic Church opened on May 29, 1904 on land donated by James Kelly.  There is a short account in The Advocate here. The current St James was opened on March 13, 1971. On September 14, 1908 the Lang Lang Church was opened, it is called St Marys. The Advocate report can be found here


St John the Baptist Church at Koo-Wee-Rup, 1950s.Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph.

The  Tooradin Catholic Church  opened on December 3, 1922 and, as befits a fishing village, it was named St Peters, after the Patron Saint of Fishermen. The report is here. The Church was closed and the building was moved to St Peter's College in Cranbourne in 2003 where it is used as a Chapel.  A few weeks later, on December 31, 1922 Scared Heart Catholic Church at Gembrook opened. Here is the report. The Church was scheduled to be officially opened in July 1922, but the Archbishop couldn't make it due to the bad state of the roads after a lot of rain,  it was rescheduled for October and had to be postponed again for the same reason. Gembrook was in the Fern Tree Gully Parish. 
On September 3, 1950 St Mary's Rural Settlement was opened by Archbishop Mannix at North Tynong. Now called Maryknoll, you can read about the history of the settlement here.  The Holy Family Church was opened in 1963, so we can't read a report on Trove as The Advocate is only digitised until 1954, about it, but this is the link to the report of the opening of the Community from The Advocate of September 6, 1950.
The Advocate September 6 1950http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article219303689

There are other Catholic Churches in Casey Cardinia which were opened after 1954 - The Holy Family Church at Doveton was opened in 1960. In either late 1961 or early 1962 St Kevin's at Hampton Park was opened - this was in a building that had been transported to the site - the old St Leonard's Church from Glen Waverley. You can see  a photo of it on a blog post I have written on the history of Hampton Park here. They appear to have  a newer building now, but I don't have any details on it. Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church was opened in February 1980 at Narre Warren and the St Paul Apostle Catholic Church at Endeavour Hills was opened on August 14, 1983.
If you come from a Catholic Family there is a whole range of local and family information in The Advocate which may be of interest including  obituaries, school activities, debutante balls, advertisements from Catholic businesses, sports results, charity reports, crime reports.

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