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The World Beneath

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  577 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
(From the blurb) Once, Rich and sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age - although they've gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sop ...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published 2009 by Scribe, Melbourne
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The World Beneath won the People’s Choice Award for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2010 and I think she did a splendid job in exploring the life of a dysfunctional family. Rich and Sandy went through a bitter separated almost 14 years ago, leaving her to raise their only daughter Sophie single-handedly. Rich has been virtually estranged from Sophie’s life with only the occasional letter here and there. It is only on Sophie’s 15th birthday that Rich decides he would like to get to know his dau ...more
May 02, 2015 Gibson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard Cate Kennedy at the Adelaide Writers' Festival this year and enjoyed her easy warmth. So I bought this book. I found the first 100 pages very frustrating. Initially the three main characters are caricatures, and her satire is soft and lazy and as satisfying as shooting fish in a barrel. Yes, we all know these characters, but not in such a two dimensional manifestation. The humour is cheap. I could almost hear the silver-haired Adelaide Writers' Festival matrons giggling at the supposedly ...more
Penni Russon
Jul 07, 2012 Penni Russon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
As a seven year old my best friend and I made our own "No Dams" placards and marched around my bush suburb of Hobart - we also took a handmade petition around saying simply "Save the Wilderness". The Franklin Dam is probably my earliest memory of politics (apart from our pet budgie named Whitlam), so I was drawn to this novel in which the Dam protests feature as the zenith of two dysfunctional adult lives, much to the chagrin of their shared daughter, Sophie, who is a site of tension but also of ...more
delicious schadenfreude of aging, divorced hippies simultaneously lamenting their lonely miserable lives and reverting to always telling the myths/stories of their activist days, back when. 'cept in this case, the 15 year old daughter is listening, very closely. so sophie the teen both rejects and sneers at her single mom's nostalgia, jiggly fat arms, pitiful life, and hypocrisy and internalizes her mom's (and her absent but longed for dad's) ethos, love, hypocrisy, and partial activism of savin ...more
May 21, 2013 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially I found this book difficult to get into, probably because the three main characters were so unappealing,. However as the novel progressed and especially after the trek began I found it more engaging and the characters more believable. The scenes in the goddess retreat were funny but sad as were the flashbacks to the Franklin River protests. Towards the end of the novel the shifts between Rich and Sandy became too abrupt and the structure awkward. The secondary story of Ian, the rescuer ...more
Sep 20, 2010 Kerry-Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An emo goth daughter who is anorexic and who feels a begrudging pity for her mother for clinging to her past as a hippy protester who saved the Franklin.....a neglectful deserter father who rings for birthdays and xmas...teenage far..all pretty much suburban life.

and then the father and daughter go to Tassie for a bonding bushwalk and we see the shift in things...

A great little read...a coming of age story..and maybe the adolescent market would like it..

There is quite a bit of the soc
Carolyn Mck
May 22, 2015 Carolyn Mck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aww15
This is a coming of age story with a difference. Sophie is a teenager who feels more grown up than her single mother, Sandy, an aging hippie who seems stuck in a time warp. When her father Rich, reappears on the scene and proposes taking Sophie on a trek in the Tasmanian wilderness, she jumps at the chance. But in his way Rich too has not grown up, remaining a drifter who continues to avoid responsibility.

Cate Kennedy tells a good story with lovely comic touches. I found the early parts of the
The book that this book most reminded me of was Scott Smith's The Ruins. But where The Ruins took somewhat interesting and sympathetic characters and built amazing tension, The World Beneath took characters I hated and moved ever so slowly toward a somewhat interesting finale. It's the story of an estranged father who comes back into his 15-year-old daughter's life to take her on a bushwalk in Tasmania. The father is a weak-willed jerk. The mother is a caricature. The daughter is ok. But spendin ...more
Amy Heap
Three and a half stars for The World Beneath, read for book club. A familiar tale, with a very Australian setting, I struggled to warm to the characters and the journey felt a little worn. At times I felt the writing was too obvious, unsubtle, but I was eventually drawn in and even shed a tear before it was over.
On the surface, this is a novel about an estranged couple and their teenage daughter. It has all the chick-lit drama you would expect; sullen oppositional teen, mother-as-victim, deadbeat dad. As the title implies, there is a lot going on under the surface. Kennedy briefly takes the point of view of each character, exposing their hopes and dreams and disappointments, exploring all the ways people in the same family can remain strangers to one another. I really don't want to summarize the story, ...more
Lyn Richards
Jun 04, 2015 Lyn Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sophie is your usual self conflicted teenager, going through her gaunt emo stage that all kids of her age go through. Add to this a hippy mum who has struggled with her own mum to have a fulfilling mother daughter relationship and Sophie's mums only claim to fame is having been present at the Franklin Dam blockade many decades ago.

Along comes Sophie's photographer hippy dad who has been absent for a decade with the exception of a few postcards here and there along the way. He too recites his tim
Feb 25, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
It was ok. I enjoyed reading about a part of the world that I know little about - Tasmania - and found the descriptions mostly lovely. The parents of the story irritated me - they were rather stereotypical (Feckless father, vague hippy mum).

Hippy's aren't always useless and ineffective!!

Whilst the daughter's character was stereotypical I did warm to her most; although felt she fell out of character in the last 1/8 of the book when she and her dad were lost. I felt she had been so strong through
May 09, 2014 Truff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some, No most of the characters of this book are unlikeable. Generally I can not read books that have unappealing characters, but the daughter Sophie saved the story, and made it necessary for me to finish. Someone else mentioned in their review that they wanted to - at times- smack each and every character. Have to agree with that. The mother and the father were pathetic and it was almost painful to read some of their point of view narrative.

The description of the scenery was overdone and got
Mar 03, 2011 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
i got about 120 pgs. in and just could not make myself read any further. didn't care for the main characters except for the daughter Sophie. her parents met at a demonstration to stop a dam on some river in tasmania from being built. parents keep reminiscing about this time and i couldn't bring myself to care.
Jun 12, 2011 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really excellent book with fine characterisation. Sophie is so recognisable as a 15 year old girl. The portrayal of the Overland Track and the Labyrinth was spot-on accurate too, as was the sense of fear when they were lost.
Aug 03, 2016 Rhonda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the parents a bit irritating and somewhat irresponsible, but I thought they were well characterised. The daughter I found totally believable, like a lot of 15 yr olds a bit mouthy, and a bit rebellious, although she was finding it hard to find something to rebel against with an ageing laissez faire hippy mother. I thought she was actually the most adult person in the relationships with her mother and father. I liked the description of the wilderness, although a bit long in spots. I found ...more
Sarah Shrubb
Didn't like this at all, though I have really liked her short stories. The two main characters were seriously unlikable, even by the end of the book, by which point there had been what I thought were very minor improvements only. The teenage daughter was rather less irritating. The two parents had spent their adult lives not paying attention to the world around them. The plot ending was squibbed completely, I thought. The idea that the father would unwind the film was rubbish. And there was no l ...more
Sonja Adams
Aug 16, 2014 Sonja Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I happened to randomly choose this book while at the library. I was pleasantly surprised. The story is told through multiple character viewpoints, much like Jodi Piccoult, but I found the characters to be better developed than Jodi's tend to be. It was a slower read and somewhat predictable but it was better than Jodi's books (of which I'm tired and don't plan to read any more). The story wasn't about a controversal subject as much as about relationships within a family (Mom, estranged Dad, and ...more
Jul 11, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.
Kathleen Hagen
The World Beneath, by Kate Kennedy, Narrated by Julie Nihill, Produced by Bolinda Audio, Downloaded from

Rich and Sandy were an active environmentalist couple 25 years ago, participating in a protest which helped to save some of the Tasmanian wilderness. Rich was always wanting to travel, while Sandy wanted to set down roots and become involved in the organic foods and meditation groups. They were married for ten years and had a daughter, Sophie. But Rich couldn’t stay put. When Soph
Mar 21, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Australian novelists
Australian novelists rock. A certain grittiness combined with tenderness and an honest look at the helplessly dysfunctional nature of the human heart show up in authors from down under such as Tim Winton, Evie Wyld and others I have read. Cate Kennedy is firmly in that class with her first novel.

The story in The World Beneath revolves around a fractured family, an out-of date subculture and an extinct Tasmanian species. Rich and Sandy, two idealistic young people, fell in love during the 1980s a
Aug 18, 2012 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I "read" this as an audio book (I have an hour round trip to work each day, so this is how I get more reading in) - my last audio book being "The Monsters of Templeton", so I enjoyed the switch to my own Australian accent and landscape.
I find with audio books you get a very different impressions of characters - I didn't particularly like the character of Sandra, but not being able to "skip along" like I can with the written text I found myself sympathising a little, and being able to imagine at
Nov 10, 2010 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s beginning to feel like I’m inclined to give everything four stars. But, although this book absolutely falls in my typical “realm” of book (written by a female, about females and generally one who’s in her somewhat formative years), it differs on the extreme from the genre I’ve been hitting up lately (Victorian mysteries). Because of the difference in genre alone and the fact that, while a mystery is certainly not easier to write, I do consider it to at least have some plot propelling twists ...more
Oct 17, 2015 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, well written, but kind of gloomy.

I loved the descriptions of the hike and the countryside, I could really see it, felt like I was there. The author did such a good job of capturing how desolate and dangerous the bush can be, especially when you're lost.

HOWEVER the main thing I didn't like about it was that all the characters were losers. I didn't like or identify with any of them and so couldn't really enjoy the book.
Jun 12, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: struggling baby boomers who need to get over it
Shelves: 2011
"Nothing more tedious than middle-class dysfunction"

Sing it sister.

Australian author Cate Kennedy has written a good little study on family dysfunction with an anorexic punk rocker teenager coming of age with hippie parents who are estranged from each other. Actually every body is estranged in this book and just trying to hold onto their little lives by the skin of their fingers. Because this is an Aussie book there are lots of "mates", Australia and Tasmanian geographical references and the the
Cathy Smith
Not too bad for her first novel. Still enjoy her short stories much more.

I imagine that she learnt a lot about researching her setting from this book and feedback. As there were a number of anomalies with the information about Hobart, Launceston, Tasmania etc. for example, log trucks don't drive through Hobart and get unloaded at the wharf there.
May 30, 2015 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read. Author really nails the three main characters, teenage gothic girl trying to reconnect to looser father who left when she was a baby and a hippy mother still living in the past, all set against a backdrop of the Tasmanian wilderness when father and daughter go on a hike. Did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did.
Dec 25, 2011 Bea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unlikable former environmental activist lets her 15 year old daughter go on a trek in Australia with her father, another former environmental activist, whom she hasn't seen in years. The mother is still angry and hateful toward her ex, the father believes it is all the wife's fault that he hasn't seen his daughter in years, and the daughter wonders why he abandoned them. It would have been a better book if the people weren't all so unlikable. The daughter is a typical rude teenager who lives ...more
Delores Bebbington
What can I say? Cate Kennedy is an amazing writer of short stories and this is her first full length novel. topical, dealing with family relationships with a trip to the Tasmanian wilderness where an estranged Father and daughter come to know and understand each other and themselves. Good read!
Jul 22, 2015 Rrshively rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Australian book has been on my to-read list for 4 years, and I am so glad I finally read it. It features a rebellious, anorexic daughter, a granola hippie new-age mother, and a Peter Pan father who went off to do his own thing when the daughter was a baby. The high point in the parents' lives was their ecological activism when they met 25 years before. Now on Sophie's 15th birthday the long absent father wants to take her on a hike through Tasmania's temperate rainforest and mountains. Relu ...more
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Cate Kennedy is an Australian author based in Victoria. She graduated from University of Canberra and has also taught at several colleges, including The University of Melbourne. She is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The World Beneath, which won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2010. It was also shortlisted for The Age fiction prize 2010 and the ASA Barbar ...more
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