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The Blue Mile

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  117 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
The week before Christmas, 1929, Eoghan O'Keenan loses his factory job, and has to flee the slums of Chippendale with his seven-year-old sister Agnes.

On the north side of Sydney at Lavender Bay, Olivia Greene is working on her latest millinery creations and dreaming of becoming the next Coco Chanel.

A job on the Harbour Bridge for Eoghan, designing couture for the Governor'
Paperback, 437 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Macmillan Australia
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Nov 24, 2015 Sharon rated it it was amazing
The Blue Mile is set in the 1930's in Sydney.

Eoghan O'Keenan not only has to deal with a difficult family life, but now he has to deal with losing his job as well. Times were tough for many people, particularly during the Great Depression, but Eoghan had had enough of everything, especially his home life, so he decides to leave home, taking his seven year old sister, Agnes with him. With nowhere to live and no plans in place Eoghan and Agnes find themselves bunking down in the Botanical Gardens
Apr 29, 2014 Brenda rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All lovers of historical fiction - and lovers of a damn good story!
In the few days before Christmas in 1929, Eoghan O’Keenan (pronounced Owen he told strangers - but Yo to family and friends) found himself without work – the downturn was affecting them all, and his mates were in the same boat. So spending their last pay on the grog seemed like a good idea at the time. As he staggered home to face an abusive father, he knew his life wouldn’t be worth living – an alcoholic mother, a mean drunk for a father, a brother who had disappeared years before, another one ...more
Dale Harcombe
Mar 20, 2016 Dale Harcombe rated it liked it
As one who grew up in Sydney and recognised some of the places mentioned, I really enjoyed the setting of this novel. It is obvious a lot of research went into it about the building of our wonderful Harbour Bridge, the Depression, attitudes and conditions of the time and the way Jack Lang was deposed. So all that added to the authenticity of the book. I liked the way Eoghan O Keenan and Olivia Greene were drawn to each other despite their very different backgrounds and upbringings. Eoghan’s love ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Phrynne rated it liked it
A lovely book (with an even lovelier cover) which describes beautifully Sydney as it was at the time of the construction of the Harbour Bridge. I liked the way the author set her main characters living one each side of the bridge and coming together as the bridge did. I really enjoyed the chapters given to Yo and Agnes. They felt so real and reminded me a little of Ruth Park. However I could not take to Olivia at all. I understood that her attitudes and beliefs belonged to that period and that d ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

The expanse of the glittering Sydney Harbour, known as The Blue Mile, is not all that separates Eoghan (Yo) O’Keenan and Olivia Greene. An unskilled Irish labourer escaping a poverty stricken, abusive home with his young sister in tow and the daughter of a Viscount and talented costumière making her name in Sydney society, seem an unlikely couple but a chance encounter in the Royal Botanical Gardens forges an unconventional and turbulent romance. Set against a period of great celebration and Dep
☼♄Jülie 
The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly

This is a really good and insightful book about life and love in 1930's Sydney.
The title The Blue Mile refers to the mile wide expanse of Harbour water dividing the South shore of Sydney from the North shore, which are now connected by the Harbour Bridge.
Before the bridge was built the only means of crossing was by boat, and workers would choke the landing wharves during morning and afternoon peak hours when clambering for ferry transport back and forth across the Harb
Carol Preston
Nov 02, 2014 Carol Preston rated it liked it
This is a moving and engaging story, set in Sydney at the time of the building of the harbour bridge. Eoghan O'Keenan loses his position at Fould's Boots in the depression years and finds the only job he can get is working on the bridge - a dangerous and challenging job, but the only way he can support himself and his young sister. When he meets Olivia, a milliner and dressmaker who is doing well in her shop and has been raised to consider herself above the working classes, Eoghan falls madly in ...more
Lauren Chater
Jan 12, 2015 Lauren Chater rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read, especially for lovers of historical fiction. I saw this at the library and the cover caught my attention... Gorgeous cover!

Other people have covered the plot so I won't go into it. I found it quite easy to get into, the characters have very distinctive voices. Some reviewers have mentioned the swearing ... I felt it was justified and 'true' to the character. It didn't bother me, maybe I swear too much? :)

There were some lovely passages, a some really interesting historical st
Selena Hanet-Hutchins
May 05, 2014 Selena Hanet-Hutchins rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It kept me up at night, turning the pages. I loved learning about the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge through Yo (or Eoghan) viewpoint and I loved learning about the fashion from Olivia's viewpoint. And I loved their love story. In many ways this novel is what you'd expect of the elements it has brought together -- the turbulent between-wars Lang years, the last years of the Bridge being built, class-challenged love story -- but it's told with nuances that are unexpected ...more
Karen Brooks
Jul 06, 2014 Karen Brooks rated it it was amazing
The Blue Mile is quite simply an extraordinary book. I absolutely loved it and, once I'd grown accustomed to its very original style, the quirkiness and authenticity of the language, as well as the way the tale is told, found it impossible to put down.

Set in the late 1920s and early 1930s in Depression-era Sydney, the book is narrated from two points of view: that of Eoghan O'Keenan, an Irish-Australian man eking out an existence in the slums of Chippendale, Sydney, and Olivia Greene, a lovely y
Karen O'Brien-Hall
Jul 06, 2014 Karen O'Brien-Hall rated it really liked it
Whenever I return to Sydney, I love flying in over the Harbour so I can gaze out the window at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Despite living away from Sydney for various periods, permanently for the past ten years, the sight of the harbour with the bridge joining north to south is my enduring image of home.
In The Blue Mile, Kim Kelly skilfully uses the construction of this iconic Sydney landmark as the background for her novel. This author is obviously very knowledgeable about the history of the pe
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Jul 13, 2014 Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
A historical fiction that takes the time period and setting of the construction of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and pairs it perfectly with a subtle love story.
The setting is the true highlight of this book. The book opens in Sydney in the late 1920’s, Kim Kelly gives the reader accurate insight into the political tensions, unemployment, trade unions and immigration issues of the time period. This is highlighted by the differences faced by the two main protagonists as they come from polarizing back
Jenni Boyd
May 16, 2016 Jenni Boyd rated it liked it
The setting of this story is Sydney, and the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an international icon for Australia. The widest and one of the longest steel arch bridges in the world. I found the story interesting in regards to what risks and hardship the men suffered, something I had no idea about until reading this book, and will now look upon this monument with new eyes.

The story revolves around three main characters, Eoghan O'Keenan (Yo), Agnes (Ag) his sister, both Irish who flee fr
Jul 13, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it
I really got into this novel. Kim Kelly explores the issue of the have and have nots and the impact it can have on star crossed lovers.

The book also investigates the risks people are prepared to take on to achieve apparently impossible results.

Eoghan comes from extreme poverty and emotional deprivation. Olivia lives in another world on the other side of the tracks. Both have experienced abandonment in different ways. They need to overcome the shackles of their different circumstances for their l
Written in first person in alternating chapters between Olivia (shy society girl designer) and Eoghan (child abuse survivor runaway homeless looking after his younger sister) who live across the harbour from each other, just a 'blue mile'. I only really got to like Eoghan as a character - he struggled with his moral code but stuck to it, and made some really strong choices for most of his story. The ending was too outlandish for me. Did they not have passport and visa controls in the 30s? ...more
Mark Swivel
A great read that reminds us of the contradictions of this country, our dreams and our drunkenness, and why we dream and drink. The Blue Mile shows how the experience of ordinary folk and the building of our 'icons' has never been married in our politics. There's chaffing for mine between the romance - whose end is never in doubt - and the romance in the politics. And Lang like Whitlam was cut down as much by the working man as the toffs. (And himself ... ) But lovely that a reader be ...more
Jun 17, 2014 Troy rated it really liked it
I love Kelly's prose in this book. It flows with a lyricism that is rare in modern novels. The internal monologues give a direct insight into the thoughts, feelings and plans of the main characters and compel the reader on to finding out where it will all go. Kelly's depiction of 1930s Sydney is based on solid research, but she doesn't bludgeon the reader over the head with the details. I really felt like I was looking out of the eyes of people from that era. I look forward to discovering some ...more
Kerri Jones
Jun 29, 2014 Kerri Jones rated it really liked it
Set in Sydney in the 1930s when the harbour bridge was being built and the depression was looming over Australia, a young couple meet by chance and the rest, as they say, is history but there's a great storyline in there too if you can get a handle on the different style of writing offered on this book. Great characters and a great feel for the era it's been set.
Alison Swann
Aug 06, 2014 Alison Swann rated it it was amazing
Another really great book by Kim Kelly. Highly recommend to readers who love Australian fiction. The research in Kim Kelly's books is brilliant.
The subject matter was very interesting but I found the writing style with short abrupt sentences a bit annoying. I also didn't like Ollie for most of the book.
Jul 12, 2014 Paddler rated it really liked it
Nice light novel. Easy to read. Interesting learning about life in Sydney during the 1930's.
Jun 08, 2014 Alik rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Established early on that this is not my cup of tea
Apr 06, 2015 Michelle rated it liked it
I WAS really enjoying this light read ...

Good main character (Olivia Greene - very young woman in a sort of 'Ugly Duckling'meets 'Cinderella' role).
Enjoyed hearing about the fashions of the day / the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge... and the politics of the day to a lesser extent because I found that a bit confusing.
The characters of Yo (Eoghan) and Aggie were fine .....

UNTIL **(Spoiler Alert)** Eoghan's 6 month bender. Yeah, Yeah, forgiveness is a fine thing.... but ignoring the fac
Jul 31, 2015 Pauleen rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.Yes, there was a certain lack of credibility in the cross-class relationship...but "those shoulders"! I found echoes of the Hon Phryne Fisher without the crime perhaps in the fashion aspects. I found the story of the bridge riveting (!) as well as the risks the men had to take, not to mention the struggle to step out of violence and poverty. Very taken with this author!
Jun 15, 2015 Alison rated it it was amazing
A truly captivating work of historical fiction. Kim Kelly has a very enjoyable writing style that I found easy to read. The Blue Mile is a story of poverty, wealth, religion, politics, love and the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Blue Mile was a gift and I can't wait to discover more books from Kim Kelly. Stunning!
Louise Briffa
Jun 30, 2014 Louise Briffa rated it really liked it
As a Sydney-sider all my life, I loved this book for the historical view of the familiar, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Strand Arcade, two of my favourite locations. Loved the story, the setting, the time, and the characters. Meticulously researched and beautifully told.
Tanya Boulter
Oct 19, 2016 Tanya Boulter rated it really liked it
this is 1 of my favourite books! I recommend it to anyone whocomes in the library looking for a good read. love the characters and learnt so much about the building of the sydney harbour bridgem which I have never really thought about before
Elisabeth rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2016
Liz rated it it was amazing
Sep 19, 2015
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Kim Kelly is the author of five novels and one novella about Australia, its heritage and its people that are loved by readers all over the world. Her stories shine a bright light on forgotten corners of our past and the tales of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. A striking characteristic of Kim’s writing is her ability to lead readers gently and lyrically into difficult terrain, ...more
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