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Pearl in a Cage (A Woody Creek Novel #1)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  432 ratings  ·  65 reviews
On a balmy midsummer's evening in 1923, a young woman foreign, dishevelled and heavily pregnant is found unconscious just off the railway tracks in the tiny logging community of Woody Creek. The town midwife, Gertrude Foote, is roused from her bed when the woman is brought to her door. Try as she might, Gertrude is unable to save her, but the baby lives. Gertrude's daughte ...more
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Bolinda Publishing (first published 2009)
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A Town Like Alice by Nevil ShuteThe Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloughIn a Sunburned Country by Bill BrysonPicnic at Hanging Rock by Joan LindsayOn the Beach by Nevil Shute
Books Set in Australia
127th out of 432 books — 125 voters
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Best Modern Australian Literature
183rd out of 330 books — 424 voters

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Community Reviews

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I highly recommend listening to this story on audiobook; the reader does an excellent job of conveying the personalities of the characters.

I was riveted to the story and hope to get hold of the sequel in order to learn the the outcomes of the unanswered questions in this book.

The plot lines are richly described and interwoven and I enjoyed the great writing and character development. However, it was sometimes difficult to continue reading simply due to the never-ending abuse Jenny was subjected
Luke Devenish
Oh wow. This was such a surprise. I never thought this would be the best book I'd read all year, but it HAS been. Couldn't put it down. Such a knockout story, and so beautifully told. This is a very fine weepie. Joy Dettman suffers from the curse of spectacular commercial success, I think. I'm ashamed to admit that this was the reason I had unaccountably avoided her. More fool me. 'Pearl in a Cage' poops on just about every other novel I've read this year, for the simple reason that it engages s ...more
C.S. Boag
Until that December morning, Gertrude Foote had found little good to say for Vern Hooper’s new motor car. It was noisy, it stunk to high hell, and she’d ridden more comfortably on a camel’s back.
So opens The Cage. And in that opening we get the promise of this book: the period – cars are in their infancy - it will be badly edited (stunk should be stank), it will be understated, there will be a beautiful ironic humour in it, and it will be exquisitely written. The questi
Bronwyn Rykiert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Preston
This is a story set in a small country town in Victoria, Australia, in the early 1900s. As such it appealed to me in an historical sense. Sadly, I almost gave up on the book a few times. I found it had too many characters for me to keep track of, too many side stories that interrupted the main story; most of them tragic. No doubt in a small country town there are many interesting characters with fascinating stories, but in a novel I found it overwhelming. I also found the POV very difficult. It ...more
Anthea Ramos
I absolutely could not put this book down. This book was a Christmas gift and before that I had never heard of this author but she is one of the best story tellers I have read and her charcters are superb. I can't wait to read more of her books - I visited her website and Pearl in a Cage was the first of three books about this small town. The ending left me wanting so much more. She captured the manipulation, hatred, love and humanness so well. Brilliant.
Antonia Jackson
Interesting period of timber-getting in rural Victoria spanning the great wars and Great Depression. Has many things going for it- role of men and women, education, lack of sex education and contraception, mental illness, Great Depression and homelessness, racism, rape, child abuse and murder. Gertrude is the strong lady, Vern her soulmate, Archie her unstable husband, Amber her daughter and Jenny the foundling with so much genetically in common. There is no drivelling sentimentality about the A ...more
Kept changing my mind on this book. Would love it then hate it. The story had a lot of characters in it so it was hard to remember who was who. There were a lot of characters I didn't like and just found really frustrating. Like Amber and Sissy. I just wanted to give them a good slap across the face and knock some sense into them. And Norman was just a total push over and was hoping through out the entire book that he would just man up, which never happened. I felt that he should have stood up f ...more
great book. I started and got through about half before I was completely caught up. Read the second half in one sitting, unable to put it down to sleep. This book explores rural Australia between the two world wars, and the impact of the depression.
It considers mental health issues, trauma and the complex nature of family relationships.
However, it probably isn't suitable for everyone, as it explores some complex issues around child abuse.
Although the narration perfectly illustrated the location of the story, I found the plot to be quite tedious at times and almost reminiscent of a badly written soap opera. I loved the Australiana feel to the story, and the peripheral characters were beautifully outlined. The main characters, however seemed to struggle to build the framework to the story, and I certainly won't be reading the sequels.
I really persisted with this book. But I just could not keep going. I made it through 340 of 576 pages. I wanted to love it, especially given that it was Book 1 in a series of 6. But there were too many characters & just not enough happening. I just didn't really care what happened to anyone. I wasn't connected to them. And like another reviewer has said, I felt like I was hovering over the characters, rather than immersed in their world.
Carinya Kappler
This book speaks of an era before children were given the rights and protection of the law that we enjoy today. It is set in a small timber mill town in Victoria during the early 1900s. A beautiful young woman is found near death in childbirth and subsequently her daughter is adopted into the local community.
This is a tale of plenty versus poverty, love and hate, crime often with no punishment, and mostly perseverance over injustice. Turning a blind eye was the accepted method of dealing with tr
Bleak, is the only way to describe life in Woody Creek in 1923. Women married young and produced countless offspring and their menfolk didn't fare much better. Joy Dettman's characters are well drawn but I didn't warm to any of them. Still it is a reasonable read and it shows the desperation of men trying to feed their families during the Great Depression.
Cate Ellink
DNF - I hate doing that but I had to. I was loathe to pick the book up because no matter how well written, or how lovely some of the descriptions were, I didn't care what happened to the characters. I got halfway and I don't really know where it's going and I don't really care at all. Too many other books to read.
I really enjoyed this book. Great characters and the author describes living in outback Australia beautifully. My problem with it was the ending. I felt cheated as hardly any of the books main plots and secrets were answered. I was sad too for Jenny, I really wanted her to get a break in life but it just kept getting worse.
To whoever has read it, please answer the following:
Did Amber murder the little girls?
Why was Jenny never told about her mother?
I'm also guessing Elsie raised the baby at the
Lailee Smith
I found myself becoming emotionally attached to this book. Angry and frustrated with so many awful things happening to one character buti hooked and moving to the next book.
Pluses: Beautifully descriptive insight into small village life in Australia in the early years. Rich characterisation.
Minuses: A cast of thousands it seemed. Long winded and unnecessary descriptions of what I felt to be minor characters. Found myself skimming large sections due to boredom.
Kimberley Simpson
The first Joy Dettman book I've read. Can't wait to get my hands on the next one in the Woody Creek series. Awesome book...set in Australia in the 20s and 30s.
Trudy Haak
Very engaging however at times very melodramic. Too many loose ends
It's a light but good read. Good overall plot and some strong characters; but some annoying ones that were a bit too central. And central themes are bit light on, the crime aspects and main story arc a touch underdone. Can't give it 4 stars as it doesn't stack up to other books I've given 4. The thing is - I am missing the book now that it's finished. And soo tempting as there are about 6 more books in the series! Am getting the next book.
Ruth Bingham
Confronting, but compelling reading.
Pearl in a Cage grabbed my attention from the start. It is fast paced with plenty of action. However, there were some weaknesses, the biggest one being the ending. Oh how disappointing. It seems that the writer ran out of puff towards the end and wanted to finish the story quickly. I felt unsatisfied and miffed when reading the final pages.

...Now, a few years later, I have re-read this book and enjoyed it even more the second time and also fully aware that it is part of a series, which I didn't
Melissa Gray
Dec 10, 2011 Melissa Gray rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Australian history
The book spanns two decades, which gives it a lot of depth, but also means there is a fair amount of ’filler’, and some parts are a little boring.
Dettman weaves in lots of interesting facts and tid-bits about life in the 1920s and life in rural Victoria. The characters are interesting and diverse.

I found the writing style a little hard to get used to at first. A lot of half-sentences, but I enjoyed the book and would read others by the same author.
There are a LOT of characters in this story about a small timber town in country Victoria during the 1920's and 30's. While interesting things happen to all the people in town, I think the book would have benefited from concerntrating on just a few characters and more fully exploring their stories. That said, it did hold my interest for the whole 565 pages. Not sure it gripped me enough that I will seek out the next in the series though.
Kerri Jones
This should probably more accurately have a rating of three and a half stars. It took me quite a while to get into her style of writing as I found it quite gritty. Once I was into it though I really really loved the story and character development was great. It ended rather suddenly and not answering all the glaring questions but I hope that will be resolved in the second instalment of this slow-to-warmup series.
Judith Yeabsley
Reading Joy Dettman is like coming home to a cup of tea and a warm room. Comfortable, relaxing and homely. I love reading her tales of country Victoria and the larger than life characters. This is the first in a series and I had been waiting for it to come available at the library. I was not disappointed. There seem to be some stretches of reality that are a little jarring but aside from that loved it.
Dotty Hazell
so loved reading this book. I was so emotionally involved with the life of Jenny. she had massive ups and downs, quite horrible some bits,

The ending left me shattered that it ended the way it did but then a band looking on good reads to find there is at least 5 more novels to read in the series.
Jacq Attaq
A wonderful journey through a small Australian town. A family saga that copes with life after world war 1 through to the depression. Each consecutive book follows the family, with their wins and losses, through the decades, and the happenings that impacted on rural and city lives.
A perfect reminder of the way things were in young Australia.
Fantastic story telling, leaves a few questions unanswered so you have to read the next instalment, which I intend to do. Setting was brilliant, a country town in the Australian Bush, from about 1920 - 1940. A compelling page turner, you feel for the main character Jenny-wren, who has a terrible time
wow. amazing story, filed with snippets of Australian life
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Joy Dettman was born in country Victoria and spent her early years in towns on either side of the Murray River. She is an award-winning writer of short stories, the complete collection of which, Diamonds in the Mud, was published in 2007, as well as the highly acclaimed novels Mallawindy, Jacaranda Blue, Goose Girl, Yesterday's Dust, The Seventh Day, Henry's Daughter, One Sunday, Pearl in a Cage, ...more
More about Joy Dettman...

Other Books in the Series

A Woody Creek Novel (6 books)
  • Thorn on the Rose
  • Moth To The Flame
  • Wind In The Wires
  • Ripples on a Pond
  • The Tying of Threads
Thorn on the Rose Mallawindy Moth To The Flame Wind In The Wires Henry's Daughter

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