Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Coonardoo” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  234 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Coonardoo is the moving story of a young Aboriginal woman trained form childhood to be the housekeeper at Wytaliba station and, as such, destined to look after its owner, Hugh Watt. The love between Coonardoo and Hugh, which so shocked its readers when the book was first published in 1929, is never acknowledged and so, degraded and twisted in on itself, destroys not only C ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published June 4th 2002 by A&R Classics an Imprint of Harper Collins Australia (first published 1929)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Coonardoo, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Coonardoo

Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayMr Wigg by Inga SimpsonOscar and Lucinda by Peter CareyThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanCloudstreet by Tim Winton
Best Australian Literary Fiction and Poetry
57th out of 149 books — 44 voters
Rebecca by Daphne du MaurierMacbeth by William ShakespeareDracula by Bram StokerHamlet by William ShakespeareEmma by Jane Austen
One Name as a Title
358th out of 362 books — 136 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 401)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 21, 2013 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, australian, kindle
This is an intensely unpleasant book to read, but there's lots to talk about regarding it, so bare with me.

So, I came across this book because I realised I knew almost nothing about Australian literature, and my mum agreed that it was pretty obscure before crying, "Oh! But you know, at the start of the twentieth century there was a whole bunch of socialist women writers, Marxists, feminists, I think you'd really like them." She gave me an old textbook of hers that outlined some of these writers,
Jul 10, 2007 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: australian
I'm a little obsessed with novels about white/Aboriginal interactions, so this didn't disappoint. Some of the writing is shockingly graphic for 1929, and the descriptions are crisp and tactile. The plot is a little meandering and changes pace dramatically for no apparent reason, but the characters are solid.
Sep 13, 2015 Harmon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't finish this terrible book, don't know why they put it on a curriculum. Makes the students want to shoot themselves!!
Nov 21, 2012 Panda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
200 pages covering 50 years in which nothing happens. had to read this for class and even the teacher did not finish it.
Nov 08, 2013 Tj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was forced to read this for my Australian Lit subject at uni. It was surprisingly addictive. Beautiful. Tragic.
Jan 21, 2016 Maureen rated it really liked it
I have read a lot of Pritchard many moons ago but never this one. It depicts the north of Western Australia in a way that shows its menace as well as its rugged beauty. This story of the relationship between a white property owner and the Aboriginal woman who was his childhood friend was considered scandalous in the 1920s, not because it wasn't common for men in the outback to use Aboriginal women sexually, but because it depicted a depth of feeling between the two. Tragically for both, the prev ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This remarkable work should have been on school English curriculums decades ago. For all that we are now prepared to talk about and beginning to discuss in Australian society, to still not have such a book as this widely known is a travesty. And I don’t merely mean from the point of view of “indigenous studies”.

The deep insights Katherine Susannah Prichard presented in her serialized novel in The Bulletin back in 1929, cover much that is in current debates and policy shifts of recent years. In p
Meg Dunley
It felt like a real privilege to read Katharine Susannah Prichard's book, Coonardoo which was written way back in 1929. She wrote this book when she went up to the Kimberley's in the North West area of Australia and stayed on a station, Turee. She was enamoured by what she observed as a writer and was inspired to write about this. What is most interesting, I found, was that she writes in the indigenous language. I am not sure if it is actually reflective of the actual dialect of the mob who woul ...more
Giorgi Baskhajauri
საინტერესო რომანია, კარგად არის დახატული განსხვავებულ ცივილიზაციათა დაპირისპირება(აბორიგენები და თეთრკანიანები) სიყვარულის თემაც ძალიან კარგია, თხრობა პოეტური და კარგია.
**sigh** Really, it just could not end any other way...

A love across race was not looked kindly at the time. A white man in love with a gin (Aboriginal)? God Forbid! No wonder that this book was not published until a later date. What a controversy it would have been. Prichard was definitely ahead of her time.

It was sad to read the different struggles and devotion on both sides. However, am always happy with the Aussie outback nature descriptions. There are none better!! And since it's nearly Aus
Davida N
Interesting, thought it was based on a true story until I read the last page, that Coonardoo's death was symbolic of the meaning of Wytaliba - the fire is all burnt out. I don't believe that this story is indicative of the relationships between white men and black women in outback Australia.
A highly curious novel relating to race and gender in early colonised Australia. The suppression of Hugh, arguably the protagonist despite the title, is particularly interesting.
Helenna Dohle
Loved the book! "Looking up at the stars she found herself pinned to the earth by swarming currents..." is such a beautiful way to of speaking.
Jun 12, 2011 Caterina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was banned in the 1920s because of the depiction of the relationship between an aboriginal woman and English-Australian pastoralist.
Aug 17, 2012 Shazza rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful Australian classic but such a sad story about a forbidden love between a white man and an Aboriginal girl.
Melisende d'Outremer
A story of the darker side to Australian history from the perspective of a young aboriginal woman.
Oct 11, 2011 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
I liked Coonardoo a lot more than I expected to. It is quite sad but written very nicely.
Sonia Chan
Jan 28, 2013 Sonia Chan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best love story that I've ever read.
Feb 10, 2014 Diahann rated it really liked it
This is a book that in all probability is a white woman's view of the time in which she lived. It is honest and progressive but I did find it difficult to analyse the truth in what the author portrays as a forbidden love between Coonardoo and Hugh. She comes across as subservient and he as a mama's boy who uses this black woman over whom he could wield an influence as opposed to women of his own race. Of course, the context would be better appreciated in 1929 when the book was written. Still, an ...more
Tegan marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2016
Megan Jessica
Megan Jessica rated it liked it
Feb 05, 2016
Steven Chang
Steven Chang marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2016
Gail marked it as to-read
Jan 31, 2016
Liz M
Liz M added it
Jan 30, 2016
Tami rated it liked it
Jan 29, 2016
Anabella Wake
Anabella Wake rated it really liked it
Jan 31, 2016
Christine marked it as to-read
Jan 26, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
500 Great Books B...: Coonardoo - Katherine S. Prichard 1 4 Jul 13, 2014 05:37PM  
  • A Little Bush Maid (Billabong, #1)
  • Fortunes of Richard Mahony
  • The Eye of the Storm
  • Last Drinks
  • Power Without Glory
  • The Barrakee Mystery
  • Johnno
  • Dark Palace
  • The Family at Misrule (Woolcots, #2)
  • That Deadman Dance
  • Tirra Lirra by the River
  • They're a Weird Mob
  • For Love Alone
  • Ned Kelly
  • The Timeless Land
  • Drylands
  • For the Term of His Natural Life
  • The Jesus Man
Katharine Susannah Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji in 1883, and spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania, before moving to Melbourne, where she won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. She worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria then travelled to England in 1908. Her first novel, The Pioneers (1915), won the Ho ...more
More about Katharine Susannah Prichard...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »