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A Fortunate Life

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  3,188 ratings  ·  250 reviews
This is the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. It is the story of Albert Facey, who lived with simple honesty, compassion and courage. A parentless boy who started work at eight on the rough West Australian frontier, he struggled as an itinerant rural worker, survived the gore of Gallipoli, the loss of his farm in the Depression, the death of his son in World War II an ...more
Paperback, 331 pages
Published 1981 by Penguin Books Australia Ltd
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Community Reviews

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This is one of those amazing books where you just can't find enough superlatives to convey exactly how much you enjoyed it and/or the impact it had on you. As a school student and as an adult you often hear tales of how difficult life was for previous generations, but it is only through reading a first hand account like this one, that you really "get" it.

Born in 1894 in Victoria, Albert Facey faced many and varied challenges right from the get go. Yet you get the sense that right from his earli
And that’s the way it was.

I would often go into the bush and watch the birds and think in some ways they were like me – they had to fend for themselves as soon as the mother bird thought that they were old enough.

Abandoned by his mother at the tender age of two, Albert Facey lived with some of his siblings and his grandparents in Victoria until 1899 when his Grandma decided to take them all to Perth in Western Australia where they would reunite with family. Bert’s granddad had recently died and
Debra Watkins
I wish I could rate this book more than 5 stars because it truly deserves a sky filled with stars and still it may not come close. I cried most of the way through the latter part of this book. Facey's life was less than fortunate at the best of times and yet he turned every crisis into an opportunity. On every single page of this autobiography Facey encapsulated the great "Aussie spirit" that people always talk about in this country.
I came to Western Australia in the late 1970s and grew up in th
While in the second hand store looking for books to read during my month in Costa Rica I came across the memoir, A Fortunate Life. My idea was to read books while traveling around CR and then leave them in whatever city I finished them thus making more room available in my suitcase to bring home souvineers. After reading this book, no, reading is the wrong word ...experiencing ...empathizing ...something like that, I have determined my life will have one less souvineer so that I ...more
Laura C.
I can't be enthusiastic enough about this autobiography by Albert Facey. This is the kind of book that you read aloud to your kids when they are beginning to be bored with you reading to them. Albert Facey was born in 1894 in Australia. Abandoned by his mother at age 4, he was raised by his grandmother in the goldfields of western Australia. He was let out to work at age 8. Completely self taught, he was unflinchingly hard working. He escaped from drunken employers after they beat him with a bul ...more
This moving memoir, in plain, early 20th century Australian vernacular, was written by a man who was illiterate until his late teens, published when the author was in his eighties, and instantly acclaimed, bringing him national fame in the very last months of his life. It covers in detail an almost Dickensian childhood of poverty and enslavement across southern and western Australia from around the turn of the century. Abandoned in infancy by his widowed mother to his grandmother, young Bert was ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 27, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Stef Fatoni
Shelves: biography
This book was given me by a woman of Italian ancestry who was raised in Australia. In handing it over she noted that it was a text familiar to most Australisns. Having the impression that it was fictional I wasn't sure I'd read it. Given our friendship, however, I resolved to give it a try.

As it happens this is an autobiography of one Albert B. Facey, born just before the turn of one century and dead shortly before the beginning of the next. The focus of the work is on the first quarter of the t
In Australia this is a famous autobiography and I remember first reading it in high school and when I was done I was glad it had been on the reading list. It opened my eyes to how hard life had been for earlier generations in Australia.

Albert Facey was the type of man I remember among my older rural relatives from when I was young: Resilient, a real handyman with only basic tools, never complains and always finish what they start. However, Facey's life was one of extremes from the early land cl
Jun 29, 2008 Dominic rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in an Australian story
I was surprised at how much I like this book. It is not what I would typically read: an Australian biography of an "ordinary" man, but his simple, humble writing really captivated me. He leads an amazing life filled with problems (wars, poverty, abuse, the depression) yet always seem to find the bright side and come out of it okay. An engaging read and quite the history lesson.
Grace Sunflower
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An old boyfriend, when I lived in Sydney, told me that if I wanted to really understand the Australian culture, I should read this.

Of course, I was much to busy living to pick up a book that I assumed was boring and "historical".

When I was forced to leave the country (visa expiration), I actually bought the book at the Sydney Airport, and started to read it on my way to Hong Kong on the plane, after I dried the tears from my departure and goodbyes.

I finished the entire thing within a few days b
Sally Edgerton
loved it - felt like I'd lost my best friend when I fineshed it.
R.L. Stedman
My father recommended this. Nervously, I embarked on reading it - my father and I have little common taste in literature. I think the fact that Dad and I both enjoyed this book so much is a reflection of the broad appeal of the story.

Facey was born the same year as my grandfather, and he died the same year. Like my own grandfather, he was raised in extreme poverty, and served in World War One.

The story is fascinating reading; not only does it detail Facey's childhood and adulthood, it probably
Daniel Jon Kershaw
Albert Facey’s ‘A Fortunate Life’ has, in my opinion, been unfairly criticised for its simple prose. I am not sure why people would make this defunct argument considering the memoir was written by someone who was not a writer, and, until his teens, completely illiterate.

If you’re looking for a well written book, do not read this. In saying that, I enjoyed the sparseness of the language – he simply told things in an economical and modest way. However, there were moments when I cringed when he us
Colleen Stone
Albert Facey was born around the time of Australia's Federation. If the author had been more aware of the conventions and devices of writing and a great deal more literate he might have made more of this and perhaps even changed the date of his birth to get a perfect fit. But neither Facey nor his country (and let's face it, Australia is the other main character in this book) was sophisticated or learned. Facey is born poverty in rural Victoria. Things go from bad to worse for his family and ove ...more
What an amazing, inspirational story. It certainly puts things into perspective in our own lives. Obviously, this story couldn't be written in today's society - a nine year old not wanted by his mother goes out to start his working life. Of course in this day and age he'd be put into foster care.

Ranging over an 80 year period, "A Fortunate Life" is the true story of Albert (Bert) Facey. Set in Western Australia starting in the early 1900's, it is written in the most honest, least technical writ
This book is told is such a matter-of-fact tone that you can also hear the old guy telling it from a rocking chair on a front porch somewhere (maybe Melbourne).
AB Facey believes he lived a "fortunate" life but I think everyone who reads this book will find other ways to describe it, such as "amazing" or "miraculous" or "courageous" or "grim."
It starts when he is a boy and his father dies and his mom ships him off to work for a family he does't know or like and goes downhill from there. What happ
This is an Australia classic for good reason. From a social history perspective, it's valuable. His detailed descriptions of farming methods in the early 20th century were marvellous and important. The interactions between the settlers and local indigenous Australians was refreshing and honest.

This is a simply told story and it is the better for that. I admired his courage, even as a young child, to leave certain situations when he wasn't happy. To keep moving on when he was so young showed his
Andrew Vh
This was a very touching book, but in the strangest of ways. The prose is almost mechanical, not overtly emotional at all. Facey outlines in plain language the main events of his life. Interspersed with this are lots of funny stories, as well as technical details about cropping techniques, rabbit-proof fences, and the like. Facey does not want to make a fuss, or dramatise his life, but his dry exposition - for example when talking about a mother who abandons him - says more about him than could ...more
Mae Walker
This book would make a great read-aloud. It is the auto biography of an early West Australian settler, which was pretty cool, some of the place names he mentioned I have been to or heard of, it makes it so so much more "
The main things I found interesting:

-he starts work at 10, and everyone trusts him to do his job and do it well.
-neighbourliness, a lot of total strangers help him, they lend each other things as they need them and help each other.
-how hard it was. Most of them started with nothi
Heather Browning
Quintessentially Aussie. Albert Facey has lived almost every trope of Australian history - working farms om the frontiers of Australia's agricultural development; droving cattle; being lost in the bush; fighting at Gallipoli; working with the unions and working through the post-war depression. But what is most Australian is his attitude - he frequently lived with almost nothing, faced people and situations that could break someone, yet still described his life as "fortunate" for what he did have ...more
The extraordinary life of one ordinary Australian. What an amazing man and what a life he led.
In spite of all the hardships he faced and all that happened to him he was always upbeat and never
lost his humanity.I thoroughly enjoyed reading A.B Facey's memoir and the insight he gave us into Australia and especially life in the bush and Western Australia was priceless. I think all Australians will benefit from reading this book.
I know it sounds funny, or what you'd probably expect. However this book changed me, in many ways that I can't describe.

Trying to explain what I mean, and think it puts things into perspective. That old phrase comes to mind - It could always be worse.

I would recommend this book to everyone, and noone - because I want to keep the story for myself. In the end, it's brilliant, and will keep you reading.
For an autobiography I thought this was really well written. It was really interesting learning about the hardships this guy went through and how he over came them. I learnt about the settlers in the WA wheat belt which I also found interesting. It would have been a very lonely life in those days.
Belinda Newham
Bert helps us to gain an understanding from a firsthand perspective of what life was like as an early settler in Australia. From this point of view it was intriguing and very well worth reading.

The book has left me in ore of how much society has evolved in the past century. It made me consider the life of my own great grandparents and grandparents as landholders in country NSW at a similar point in history. It’s an entertaining way of gaining knowledge and an appreciation of the hardships endur
Although this book is widely acknowledged as no literary masterpiece, it is an extraordinary and uplifting story of the resilience and power of the human spirit. I am glad I finally got around to reading it.
Timmy Howard
My mum finally made me read this just after high-school. It's fantastic. I hope to one day experience as much as Facey.
Paul Harris
The cover blurb promised "A true classic of Australian literature..." - which is thankfully not undeserved hyperbole at all. The author lived a life with many hardships - especially his poverty stricken remote rural childhood - but writes toward the end of his fascinating life with the perspective of one who is not remotely bitter, but full of wisdom, and grace.

Born in the 1890s, Facey's orphan childhood coincided with a period of expansive white settlement in the southwest of Western Australia.
This was the best book about Australia and what it means to be Australian that I have ever read. Mr Facey was not an author. He wrote this book to leave his story behind for his children and we are so lucky that he did. I felt like I was having a conversation with my grandad who died a long time ago and had a hard life working on the railways. This book covered his hard childhood (he started working at 8!), life on the land, Gallipolli and The Depression. I am so glad I read this near Anzac Day ...more
I followed through in reading this book after hearing its recommendation on the radio and have been completely enthralled with it. It has been one of the most astonishing autiobiographies I've ever read.

It is the story of Albert Barnet Facey from his very beginning in 1894 in Maidstone in Victoria, through his extremely rough childhood and working years as a young man through to his service in WW1 and life afterwards.

The author without doubt is a master story teller and would captivated his fa
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