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

Harp In The South (Harp in the South #2)

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  2,364 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Since it was first published in 1948, this compassionate novel has become a favourite with generations of Australian readers.

The Harp in the South is a nostalgic and moving portrait of the eventful family life of the Darcys of Number Twelve-and-a-Half Plymouth Street in Surry Hills, a Sydney slum. There grow the bitter-sweet first and last loves of Roie Darcy, who becomes
Paperback, 251 pages
Published January 1987 by Penguin (first published 1948)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenCloudstreet by Tim WintonA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShutePicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
Best Books Set in Australia
20th out of 565 books — 346 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakCloudstreet by Tim WintonTomorrow, When the War Began by John MarsdenA Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
Best Modern Australian Literature
33rd out of 339 books — 441 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

I think I was about eleven when I first read this Australian classic and I decided to reread this year it to fulfil my Eclectic Reader challenge requirements after it was named in the First Tuesday Book Club's Top Ten Books to Read Before You Die.

The Harp in the South is a glimpse into the everyday life of inner Sydney's poorest post war community and introduces the Darcy family who live in Sydney's slums at Twelve-and-a-Half Plymouth Street, Surry Hills. The Irish Catholic Darcy's are an avera
Deborah Biancotti
So I figured that, given the amount of resistance I've always had towards this book, I might end up loving it fiercely when I finally read it. But I didn't. I just liked it. Well enough.

On the plus side, I enjoyed the fact it's almost a series of short stories rather than a novel (Park herself said she wanted to write a book that was plotless, like life). I enjoyed the early chapters, which were mainly character portraits. I enjoyed the way Park evokes the poverty, over-crowding and lack of hope
Set in the 1940s, Harp in The South tells the story of the Darcy family who live in the working class suburb of Surrey Hills in Sydney. Hughie and Margaret (Mumma) live with their two daughters Roie and Dolour and Mumma’s mother (Grandma) as well as their boarder Mr Diamond in a small terrace house. Hughie has a job at a foundry, but is often off sick due to the effects of the sly grog he over-indulges in on a regular basis. Mumma is a housewife who does her best to be a good Catholic wife, amon ...more
Sharon Marchingo
Harp in the South
By Ruth Park
The Harp in the South is a classic Australian novel that was the latest discussion book for the Crusoe Community Book Club. It was also nominated by The Tuesday Book Club on the ABC as one of the top 10 Australian reads of all time. The setting of the novel is Surry Hills in Sydney just after World War 2 (although this is never quite stated). The Darcy family are close knit but live a life of poverty amidst the brothels, grog shops and run down housing of the area. M
Nancy Burns
My first'slow read' 2014 and I enjoyed the experience!
Took pages of notes and learned so much about literary tools used by R. Park.
This was my book choice for #AusReadingMonth 2014 Brona's Books #bronasbooks.
Here is my review:
Set in the 1940s and first published in 1948, The Harp in the South is a well renowned Aussie classic. Author Ruth Park (who passed away in 2010) was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia in 1942. After marrying writer D’Arcy Niland they moved to Sydney where she wrote full time, with over fifty books to her name, and she also received many awards including a Miles Franklin Award.

The Harp in the South is a story of the Darcy family, living in the slums of Sydney, extremely poor and struggl
Daniel Jon Kershaw
It grew slowly on me like barnacles on a boat, but I was in no hurry to scrap them off once they were there. 3 and a half stars.
Pamela Bray
Apr 01, 2013 Pamela Bray rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: cheryl
What a brilliantly written book - an amazing story told through the generations of this family so intimately (you are in the bedroom with them or in the kitchen or sitting in the gutter). But the language... this is masterly written, exceptional in its word craft, in its portrayal of the everyday with humour, sadness, hope, emotion.
Andy Quan
I wonder where Plymouth Street, Surry Hills is, the setting of Ruth Park's 'The Harp in the South'. I can almost imagine it only a block away, perhaps on Albion Street, a little bit further down from Frog Hollow park. I say this because the reason that I read this book from 1948 was because it is set in the neighbourhood in which I live, and that was one of the great pleasures of the book, that I could feel the surroundings long ago, that the short walk down to Chinatown and Market City is one I ...more
Bruno Bouchet
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mel Campbell
To be honest I read this years ago and so its details escape me, but I remember being struck by the vividness of its portrayal of inner-city poverty. In its portrayal of old-fashioned Australian working-class life and the role of women in particular, I file it along with Brides of Christ and Come in Spinner .

I read it as an example of a bygone form of community in which people of different races and circumstances (disabled, addicted, pregnant, aspirant, etc) were forced to coexist and be confro
Jo Case
It’s amazing to think that this treasured Australian classic began life on a whim, when Ruth Park decided to enter the ‘novel’ component of the Sydney Morning Herald’s inaugural writing competition. “We don’t write books,” said her writer-husband, little realising that this was to be the start of a long career doing just that. It’s even more surprising to think that the book caused a scandal with its “immorality” on first publication in 1948. “As a writer, love is what I have always written abou ...more
Sean Kennedy
A true Aussie classic, brimming with love, humour, pathos and true character studies, The Harp in the South is notable for having working class heroes in a time where they weren't really championed in Australian literature - surprising seeing so much of Australian identity is focused upon the image of the Aussie battler.

Some modern readers may take umbrage with what they see as stereotypical characters but this context is important - it wasn't stereotypical at the time - and it is hard to deny t
The Harp in the South (1948) was Ruth Park’s first novel and is, I think, the nest-loved of all her books. While her two small children slept, Ruth Park wrote it on the kitchen table of her parents’ home in New Zealand while she was visiting from Australia. She and her husband D’Arcy Niland were determined to make a living from writing, and the Sydney Morning Herald’s literary competition with a prize of 2000 propelled her into using her experiences in the slum Sydney suburb of Surry Hills for a ...more
Amanda Barrett
12 Plymouth Street, Surry Hills Sydney, post World War II, is the setting for the Australian classic novel The Harp in the South by author Ruth Park. The tenements on Plymouth Street are vividly brought to life by the writing of Ruth Park. For the Darcey family, Irish Catholic immigrants, residing in this inner city slum area, life is a struggle. The characters of Margaret “Mumma” Darcey, Hughie Darcey and their two daughters Rowena and Dolour must contend with poverty, violence, alcoholism, pr ...more
This is one of my absolute all-time favourite stories.

It tells the story of a poverty-stricken family living within the slums of Sydney in the first half of the 20th century. Like 'To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Who Has Seen the Wind" it is perfect at capturing the essence of a particular time and place, and like these other classic stories I love it more for the way it creates a feeling and mood that is centred on its place and time more than I do for its plot.

One of my favourite passages in any
Katie Haden
New favourite, in my top 5 of all time. Possibly even right up the top.
This was as delightful as promised. I've not read many stories about poor urban australians, or novels about poor australians which aren't comedies. Comic tales of the struggling family on the land, yes, but urban slum dwellers? Not so much. There is warmth and good humour in this novel, but it's not a comedy. It's starkly realistic at times about the financial and social burdens the central family bear: in particular, I was impressed with the way Park empathises with without really excusing the ...more
Charmaine Clancy
Australian classic. Good episodic tale of the trials and triumphs of The Darcy's of Surry Hills. There are some very endearing moments in this novel and it inspires nostalgia for those hard times that build the strongest bonds. I did find most of the turns in the story predictable and it left me longing for something to work out as a surprise and not what you would expect.
Hannah Louey

A couple of weeks ago, a group of uni mates and I took part in a literary trivia night (have you heard of anything greater? Me either). Well, we were trounced. While we did OK in the general knowledge section, pretty well in the movie adaptation section…we were absolutely stuffed in the ‘Australian Classics’ section. Basically, if the answer wasn’t Helen Garner or Tim Winton, we were screwed. Propelled by this, I thought it best to actually read some Austr
Atmospheric novel of life in Surrey Hills in the early days of Sydney in the 20th century. The Darcys are a poor Irish Catholic family. The novel centres on Rowena, Roie as she comes of age. We follow her as she meets Tommy, a young Jewish lad, and her first boyfriend, who makes her pregnant. She loses the child after a violent attack, and then meets Charlie, a part Aboriginal, to whom she gets married and bears a child.

This novel introduces several key themes - poverty, religion in the life of
I loved this book for the characters, but it's not a plot driven book so i think that lost me a little bit. More than anything, it's a study of character and environment, and how the one drives the other. I don't think it would warrant a second read but i'm glad i picked it up.
Corey Zerna
I'm still not entirely sure I haven't read this before - but it thoroughly deserves its place on the 10 Australian Books Before you Die list! A beautiful story - so hard to picture the Surry Hills of today as it was back then - the epitome of Australian poverty
Great read. Very easy to get into, loved the characters. Could relate to all of them. Truly an Australian literary treasure.
Great characters enduring a gritty and impoverished existence. So much hope springs from their love for each other.
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! I've read this so many times I can't remember the first time, it was probably in the mid-90's. Certainly it was before I really got to know Sydney. The longer I live here, the more appreciative I am that Ruth Park had the courage to write this story, and the the Sydney Morning Herald actually chose it to win it's writing competition. It is so sad, so beautiful, and such a shocking portrait of the horrible poverty that was entrenched in the inner city Surry Hills slum ...more
This book has been one of those that I was 'going to read someday'. As it is on many lists of 'Australian Books You Must Read', I finally downloaded it as an audiobook and enjoyed it immensely. Set in NSW after WW2, a family deals with the day to day struggles in living a hand -to-mouth existence, the living conditions described in a matter of fact way which seems to make it even more shocking. The relationship between the sister, their parents, the boarders in the house and other neighbours was ...more
What a gem.
Geoff Wooldridge
Ruth Park is a wonderful storyteller!

The Harp In the South is set in the slums of Surry Hills, a suburb of Sydney, in the 1940s (although this is not specifically defined).

The Darcy family, Irish Catholic immigrants, live in a run down tenement at Twelve and a Half Plymouth Street, which they share with a single Irish Protestant man (which leads to insults on St Patrick's Day particularly) and an enigmatic single woman who has, and loses, a handicapped son. The suburb is strongly Irish, but ther
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • My Brother Jack
  • My Brilliant Career
  • The Shiralee
  • The Getting of Wisdom
  • The Magic Pudding
  • For the Term of His Natural Life
  • Monkey Grip
  • A Fortunate Life
  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  • Grand Days
  • Power Without Glory
  • It's Raining in Mango
  • Seven Little Australians (Woolcots, #1)
  • The Tree Of Man
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tirra Lirra by the River
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock
  • My Place
Ruth Park was a New Zealand-born author, who spent most of her life in Australia. She was born in Auckland, and her family later moved to Te Kuiti further south in the North Island of New Zealand, where they lived in isolated areas.

During the Great Depression her working class father worked on bush roads, as a driver, on relief work, as a sawmill hand, and finally shifted back to Auckland as counc
More about Ruth Park...

Other Books in the Series

Harp in the South (3 books)
  • Missus
  • Poor Man's Orange

Share This Book

“And when he got home he started on Mumma. He hated her then, because in her fatness and untidiness and drabness she reminded him of what he himself was when he was sober.” 1 likes
“Having a baby is different from all the ordinary ways of being hurt. it's worth it all. Other pain isn't worth anything, but that is.” 0 likes
More quotes…