Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea” as Want to Read:
The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  274 ratings  ·  26 reviews
In 1941, Rob Coram is six. The war feels far removed from Geraldton in Western Australia. But when his favourite older cousin Rick leaves to join the army, the war takes a step closer.
When Rick returns several years later, he has changed and the old merry-go-round that represents Rob's dream of utopia begins to disintegrate before his eyes.
The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea all
Paperback, 408 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Penguin Books (first published 1965)
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 The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 534)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Brian Reed
Do not think less of anyone for hating this if they had to read it in high school. I had to as well and I despised this book. I actually grew up in Geraldton in the 70s and 80s and it seemed as though not much had changed since the 40s, excpept mabe for the war. Hated hated hated it. Trying to explain to some first year teacher from Perth that how utterly boring Robs life was compared to our own was a fruiless task. They just couldn't get it. Now go forward in time 20 years and I decided to give ...more
Bloody WA school board making me read this!!! Hated it - more boring than the drive to greenough.
Sep 05, 2014 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by: ANZ LitLovers Yahoo Reading Group
It's too soon to say this is going to be my best book of the year, but it's very good indeed.

I first discovered Randolph Stow (1935-2010) just last year when I read To The Islands, so I was delighted when the ANZ LitLovers group selected Merry-go-round in the Sea for our 2011 schedule. It’s a more accessible book than its predecessor, and has often been included on Year 12 reading lists because it’s a coming-of-age story that is rich in the kind of themes that preoccupy young people. But it is
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. I'm not sure if it's because I was reminiscing or that the story just appealed to me. Either way, the book was full of amazing descriptions of the area in Geraldton in which it was set. I especially loved the author's personification of aspects of the countryside the 'Greenough trees; like ladies washing their hair', is a favorite of mine. The relationship developed between Rob and Rick was really the highlight for me and Stow sure showed some of his tale ...more
I got this book roughly 20 years ago when I was taking a class on Australian literature. Having no memory of the story I thought I'd pull it off my shelf and give it another go (mainly to determine whether or not it was going back on the shelf or donated to the library). What a depressing book.
The story revolves around two main characters, Rob and Rick, over a span of 8 years. Rick is Rob's older cousin who leaves to fight in WWII. Rob is a five year old little boy who adores him.
Although well
Carolyn Mck
I loved this Australian classic coming of age story when it was first published in 1965 and also when I taught it to senior high school students. I re-read a couple of years back with the same pleasure.

Stow creates a realistic character in young Rob Coram, a lovingly-rendered setting in the pastoral country around Geraldton (WA) and a moving account of the effects on Rob’s cousin, Rick, of imprisonment by the Japanese in Changi in World War Two.

Of course each time I read this story over more t
This book was my nemesis.....I hated it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
400 pages just flew by. It really did not feel like I've read 400 pages at all, maybe 200 pages at most! It's definitely not Large Print and it's regular size fonts (10 or 11). It's a sign that I was completely taken in.

Rob Coram is 6 years old at the beginning of the book saying goodbye to an older cousin (Rick Malpestead, 20) who's going to war. The rest of the first part of the book dealt with Rob's boyhood in Geraldton and surrounding areas (even though they were evacuated at some point, it
This coming-of-age novel set against the harsh backdrop of the Western Australian landscape has become a modern classic for Randolph Stow.

When Stow passed away at the age of 74 in England on 29 May 2010, he had spent more than 40 years out of the country, but West Australian’s still mourned the loss of one of their own.

Stow was the second-ever winner of Australia’s prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award in 1958 for his novel To the Islands, but is perhaps better known for this semi-autobiogra
The opening section of 'Merry-Go-Round in the Sea' - a wonderful evocation of growing up in and around Geraldton during World War II - may be the best thing in all Australian literature. I can't think of anything better. Comparisons to Proust's descriptions of childhood do it no disservice. It's really that good.

Regrettably, the book rather loses its focus with the return of Rick from the war. And when it gets to Perth, it loses more. I get the feeling that Stow's problem was the same as Proust'
One of the first Australian fiction books I've read. A beautiful character study of two cousins so close in age and character, but separated into two vastly different worlds by the war. The emotive language detailing the Western Australian landscape and the way the young boy sees it in his naive, imaginative way is enchanting.
Peter Jakobsen
The great Australian family-at-war yarn. The scene of Rick and Jane on the beach is the literary high watermark of dates gone wrong.

One of Australia's "great" books, this is the story of six years in a boy's life in Geraldton, Westerm Australia, during WW2. The central theme is the relationship between the boy and his older cousin, who returns from war after time as a prisoner of the Japanese. I enjoyed it for the descriptions of the lifestyle, landscape and culture of the area and the insights into the maturing mind of the boy. Limited "action", but highly evocative prose. A "must read" for all Australians, especially those
This was a great way to start my year’s reading. Character was absolutely king in this book – I thoroughly believed in Rob as a character from a little boy through to adolescent, and Rick, their relationship, and the whole extended Maplestead clan. The plot pacing is leisurely, but still flows along nicely as you are drawn into Rob’s world, and through his growing-up. The prose is beautiful, poetic, and imaginative, like a love letter to the land. And there is something extra special about readi ...more
N .
Regardless of the quality of the writing, I refused to continue this because of the racist sh*t the characters say. I don't care if "it's relevant to the context", "it's from the perspective of white australians", or the fact that the author wrote this in the 1960's, I have zero-tolerance for such things and have no need whatsoever to waste the rest of my time finishing this book. I look forward to returning it back. (And why the hell was that kid so obsessed over his uncle, he wasn't even his p ...more
Some lovely descriptions, but I felt the novel meandered rather than coming full circle. It's a book about a boy growing up in WA during WWII, and about his cousin Rick, whom he idolises, going to fight in Japan. There were some touching and shocking passages on the psychological effects of war and torture - Rick and his fellow soldier Hughie were used to highlight this - but mostly the book lost its thread in places, after the powerful, vivid opening sequence.
Jacquie South
Studied this in year 10 at school and didn't like it much. Enjoyed it more this time - some beautiful descriptions and nice to read a book set in my home state (even if it's somewhat before my time), but still seems to me very much a "literature" book. Good examples of many literary devices etc, but a slow, meandering story line that's more interested in description than much forward action. Stil a recommended read though ...
The story was a little slow for me but there were some amusing moments, particularly the relationship between Rob and Rick. Although I wasn't always drawn into the story, I loved the writing. I would recommend for the writing and for the insight into Australia during the war. Forewarning - there are some really unPC moments and language though!
A gentle, imaginative and sensitive view on war-time Australia through the eyes of a young narrator. I've read this book a few times, though not recently, and it remains a sentimental fav.
The naivety of childhood mixed with the terrors of prisoners of war present a book which is both heartwrenching and joyful at once.
A fantastic read. I could almost smell the roads and sea which she describes beautifully. Well told
James Raynes
An absolute classic. I can't believe I hadn't read it earlier.
Robyn Mundy
A Western Australian classic
Love this book!!!
Casey marked it as to-read
Aug 31, 2015
Beautifulasme marked it as to-read
Aug 31, 2015
Christiana marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 17 18 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The White Earth
  • Capricornia
  • My Brother Jack
  • Fortunes of Richard Mahony
  • A Little Bush Maid (Billabong, #1)
  • Power Without Glory
  • Lost Voices
  • Rhubarb
  • The Shiralee
  • Monkey Grip
  • The Lucky Country
  • My Brilliant Career
  • The Bodysurfers
  • The Well
  • Voss
  • Tirra Lirra by the River
  • The Timeless Land
  • Carpentaria
(Julian) Randolph Stow was born in Geraldton, Western Australia, in 1935. He lectured in English Literature at the University of Adelaide, the University of Western Australia and University of Leeds. His novel To the Islands won the Miles Franklin Award in 1958. He was awarded the Patrick White Literary Award in 1979. He lived in England and died May 2010.
More about Randolph Stow...
Midnite: The Story of a Wild Colonial Boy To the Islands Tourmaline The Girl Green as Elderflower Visitants

Share This Book

“I wonder what I’m going to be when I grow up,’ Rob asked himself.

‘Well, not a film star,’ Mike said. ‘And not an all-in wrestler. Why don’t you be a drunk? You don’t need any talents for that.’

‘It’s got to be something in your blood,’ Rob said. It was his view that all history was a matter of blood.

‘That’s a lot of bullshit,’ Mike said. ‘Hell, Australia was built by people who didn’t know who their grandparents were. You can be anything you want to be, and you ought to be what you want to be, not what your grandpa was.’

‘Well, what are you going to be?’ Rob demanded… ‘A drunk,’ said Mike. ‘I haven’t got any talents.”
More quotes…