Tag: Australia

The Light Between Oceans by H.L. Stedman

September 27th, 2013 — 10:51am

Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by H. L. Stedman – Tom Sherbourne is  a young World War I veteran who takes an honorable job as a lighthouse keeper 100 miles off the coast of Australia. On leave in the mainland he meets and falls in love and marries Isabel who is very happy to join him in the lighthouse keepers home on an isolated island.  Still early in the book, we learn of the all important incident where a small boat washes ashore with a dead man in it and a new born baby. By now Isabel has had three miscarriages and Tom and Isabel conclude the mother of the baby must have been lost at sea. They bury the man and keep and raise the baby as their own especially since it coincides with her latest expected but failed childbirth. As the story unfolds we learn much more about Tom and Isabel and about other people whose lives are related to this incident. We become drawn in to the complexities and deepest feeling of many of them. The author allows us to understand where the characters come from and where they are going . She puts us inside their heads as they struggle with their psychological pain and their decision-making processes. It is remarkable that included in this study of people is an insight into the baby girl who we meet shortly after her birth and watch her develop for the first five years of her life. The reader is drawn to the many interrelated characters in the book. To understand them is to empathize and like them. The book also gives the reader an insight into the impact of World War I on not only the participants and the returning young veterans but on the so many parents who never recover from what the war did to their families. But most of all this is a story about one big ethical dilemma that has the power to rip you apart if you put yourself in the shoes of all involved. This is a well-written novel which grabs you and makes you not want to put it down. When I finally did put it down after completing it I realize that it stirs up thoughts about a topic, which I have been thinking and writing about in recent months. That is the powerful desire of people to find their hidden roots and make personal contact with close relatives from whom they have been separated at an early stage in their lives or those related to them. ( See my blog on this subject ) . Whenever you encounter a book that holds your attention as this one did and stimulates interesting thoughts, it certainly is a book that deserves recommending to others

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The Secret River by Kate Krenville

July 29th, 2010 — 2:35am

The Secret RiverIt is a well known fact that Australia was originally settled primarily by convicts who were shipped there by the Bristish government in the 18th and early 19th century. The Secret River puts a very personal face on what it might have meant to be one of the settlers who had his life reprieved from a hangman’s nose for stealing good to then be faced with a life sentence of exile in a barely inhabited land.

Even before we follow the protagonist of this novel William Thornhill and his wife and small child across the ocean to Australia, we are given insight in to the desperation which lead a hard working honest man to make stealing an everyday part of his life in order to prove a bare sustenance for his family. Particularly when your everyday life as  waterman boatman on the Thames River in London put you in contact with the gentleman gentry, we see how the dreams and aspirations of the poorest man can be seeds seed waiting to sprout if ever given the opportunity. Just as the Americans had its Indians who were here first, the Australians had its aborigines although the latter word was never used in this novel. They were usually referred with some variation of “ black”. They were usually a stealth group off in the woods. How the convict settlers tried to dehumanize them in order to justify to themselves their right to dominance over the land is a good part of psychological underpinning of this story.

Author Kate Krenville was apparently inspired to write this noel during her own exploration of studying the family journey of a distant relative. She appears to have mastered the history, the dialect as well as the interesting trials and tribulations, which her main character and his family might have experienced. The reader gets into their shoes and appreciates their struggle as they battle to hold on to their dreams and their values.

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