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Fly Away Peter

3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  1,054 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
In this shimmering work of imagination, one of Australia's most honored writers conjures a single still moment on the edge of the 20th century in which two unlikely people share a friendship. When Ashley Crowther returns to Australia to manage his father's property, he discovers a timeless landscape of kingfishers and ibises; he also meets Jim Saddler, the young woodsman w ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 26th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This follows the same formula as his "Remembering Babylon." First, the story. Here, a simple country lad who's into bird watching. David Malouf throws in a possible love interest, most likely pretty, who does photography. Also a rich, young man who becomes his friend. Both guys goes to war (World War 1). The contrast, from the peaceful idyll of their natural world in Australia to the numbing horrors of trench warfare. From colorful birds to rotting corpses. Some characters die, untimely, needles ...more
20/09 - Had to read this for year 12 English and I didn't really understand it and therefore didn't enjoy it. I find both situations strange as I am usually drawn to Australian war stories, fiction and non-fiction. Maybe it deserves a re-read with my older, more mature day.

14/4/16 - New Review due to Reread

20/4 - I think this might be the least enjoyable war story I've read. It took till page 80 (of 138) before we got to anything interesting, before that it was all about Jim and his
Feb 22, 2014 Bec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fly Away Peter is the story of Jim Saddler, an avid birdwatcher living in Queensland in the early 1900s. When the war arrives in 1914, he enlists, and, travelling to France, becomes a bitter soldier fighting a losing war, while musing on the meaning of life. And that's about all that happens.

The first time I read this book, I didn't like it very much. I thought it was boring, slow-paced, with too many descriptions of birds and a rather tame description of the battlefield.
But then we had to ana
Suhasini Srihari
May 02, 2012 Suhasini Srihari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Fly Away Peter' is a distinctive novel wherein the author reveals to us, the readers, through life's small instances is there the continuity of life. Life is insignificant, therefore, its the individual's ability to create his or her own world. The individual can always escape from the immediate [through imagination] and travel to 'another world'. The theme of seeking permanence is also touched upon in the novel if given it a detailed and introspective reading. The poetic language used by Malou ...more
Aug 19, 2007 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love David Malouf's writing. I picked up this old (1982) novel at a used book store and didn't think it would be as good as his more recent stuff. Now I remember why I love his style--his writing is very poetic (he is a poet) and descriptive. He's one of those writers who capture the geography of the land as well as the mind of the narrator. He's received many awards, but I believe if he were British rather than Australian, he would have gotten a lot more. This novel of WWI Australia and Europ ...more
Mar 23, 2008 Ainsley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
David Malouf is one of Australia's most talented authors, renowned for his sensual, descripive style. Unfortunately (for him and me), I happen to loathe this style of communication. I admire people who can maintain a sense of interest and wonder as Mr Malouf spends two or three pages describing how the character felt when walking up a hill. This book deals, at least partially, with war and communicates the confusion of a soldier in battle reasonably well. However, that's all it does. You are lef ...more
David Sarkies
Jul 21, 2012 David Sarkies rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to David by: My English Teacher (in Year 12)
Shelves: modernist
A rant about literature
21 July 2012

To be honest with you I thought this novel was little more than a load of existentialist rubbish. I have only read two of Malouf's novels, this one and the one about Ovid being exiled to the edge of the Roman Empire. It seems as if there is something in common with these two novels. Ovid is exiled from the centre to the fringe while here, in this novel, the main characters go from the fringe (being Queensland in Australia) to the centre (being the trenches in
May 06, 2008 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolyn Mck
May 18, 2016 Carolyn Mck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
This is a gem of a short novel, which I first read in the 70s after my father died. At that time I was reading whatever I could about experiences of World War One as my father had spent three years in the trenches as a signaller. Like many of his generation, he was profoundly altered by that experience but rarely spoke of it. Through literature, I was trying to understand him better than I had when he was alive.

I re-read the novel recently as my grandson was studying it in his Year 11 English c
Kris McCracken
Fly Away Peter by David Malouf breaks my Australian novel duck this year! Moreover, it’s a book that seems equal parts loathed and loved by thousands of Australian high school students due to its status as a set text on the Senior English curriculum in some states…

An exploration of identity that explores the boundaries of place, class and experience, Malouf uses a central motif of birdlife to survey a range of themes. Set in Queensland in the lead up to the First World War, the mystery of the mi
Apr 13, 2009 El rated it really liked it
Beginning in Queensland, Ashley Crowther returns home to manage his father's land. Malouf here creates a sort of Australian Eden with the detailed nature of birds. Ashley works with Jim Saddler, a woodsman, and Imogene Harcourt, a British wildlife photographer, to create what is referred to as The Book, a researched collection of the birds of Queensland.

The second part of the book is the exact opposite of the first part. In the second Jim is in southern France during WW1 in the muddy trenches wi
Sep 05, 2007 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teenagers up
This is a beautifully written novella which uses bird imagery to capture the horrors of WW1. It is superb in describing the strange ambivalence that Australians have about getting involved in other people's wars on the other side of the world. I really enjoyed the main character's refections as he tried to understand why he was headed for a war in places he knew nothing about and didn't really understand why he needed to go. A very interesting comparison when read alongside a novel like Birdsong ...more
Andrew Lucas
Dec 26, 2016 Andrew Lucas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early work by David Malouf, short but dealing with important themes, juxtaposing a the peace of bird sanctuary and industrial scale death in the trenches in WW1. The book needs to be absorbed thoughtfully, but it's rewarding for those who take the time, recognising that there isn't a word of it that is careless or superfluous.
Jan 22, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm.... I found this book quite boring. Even though description is good, there was too much for my liking. It would have been more interesting if there was more dialogue. I also found the storyline boring. But apart from that, it's an extremely well written book. The use of writing techniques was excellent, and the description of the war was excellent.
Senna Black
Fly Away Peter is a 1982 novel (well… novella) by David Malouf. I read this in about three hours (it’s probably 40-50,000 words) and I am going to dash off a short review while I am working up to writing a review of "Letters from a Lost Generation", a task which continues to daunt me.

What to say about "Fly Away Peter"? First, a little background. I read this book in high school, as the compulsory UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR FOREBEARS WENT THROUGH, CHILDREN book. As I reread, I had some vague memories o
Tim Armstrong
From memory, this book and "An Imaginary Life" established Malouf as a great new talent in the Australian literary scene.
It is a short book but it shows all the qualities that Malouf became famous for.
Anastasia Circelli
Read for English... probably the most painful book I've ever read 💩
Victoria Circelli
May 11, 2017 Victoria Circelli rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Please don't do this to yourself, unless your English class makes you...
Andrea Kelly
This was my first Malouf novel - he's been on my list of authors to check out for a while. I decided to read 'Fly Away Peter' because I wanted a quick read and it was on my shelf.

Well it certainly was quick and considering the subject matter, I found this a little perplexing. Set in Queensland just before the First World War, the novel explores, or juxtaposes two levels of one life. Jim, the protagonist's idyllic and peaceful life, one that seems to fit his nature and his desires perfectly, is c
Fly Away Peter is a 1982 novel (well… novella) by David Malouf. I read this in about three hours (it’s probably 40-50,000 words) and I am going to dash off a short review while I am working up to writing a review of "Letters from a Lost Generation", a task which continues to daunt me.

What to say about "Fly Away Peter"? First, a little background. I read this book in high school, as the compulsory UNDERSTAND WHAT YOUR FOREBEARS WENT THROUGH, CHILDREN book. As I reread, I had some vague memories o
Jan 09, 2017 Vicky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fly Away Peter was... pretty good. There was nothing overly bad about it, and I really loved the character Jim, however nothing else was that outstanding.

As an Australian, I might be a little less harsh on the book, so just take that into account when reading my review :)

It was very surprising for me while reading that Peter Malouf did not explore the characters more in depth. Other than Jim and maybe Ashley, I didn't have a clue what anyone was like. But looking back on the book, I think the au
Cathy Smith
Creative writing courses encourage their students to create plot driven stories with action and dialogue, rather than description and explanation. David Malouf proves that literary fiction has power in poetic prose.

The style of a book like FLY AWAY PETER takes a chapter or two to fall into. It's like listening to classical music again after commercial radio songs with lyrics. It's beauty is in the word choices and descriptions and symbolism.

I read the first chapter aloud, to help me engage wit
Jan 24, 2013 Natasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, aussie
I'm going to be totally honest, here: the reason why this got four stars was because someone had been pretty much been reading it to me and showing me where all the good bits were. If I had not had that, I probably wouldn't have found it as enjoyable as I did.

In saying that, I do think the story is quite beautiful -- and is very poetic. I would be grateful with half the talent Malouf has to paint pictures of certain things in your head that you understand but would've never described. You get t
Nov 16, 2014 Liz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, uni-books
David Malouf manages to fit so much detail into just one page, or even a paragraph, that you come out of this novella thinking you've just read a 300 page book. Therefore, within the first 20 pages you already have a favorite character and are waiting anxiously for them to reappear later in the book.

Brilliantly written - I went into this book thinking I knew what was going to happen, but was pleasantly surprised by the end of it.

I'm not into sad books, especially war-time stories, but it was a
I had to read this book for English this year. Honestly, if it hadn't been the Year 12 novel picked by the teacher, I would never have picked it up. I'm not usually a fan of contemporary classics (especially set in Australia, even though it's my country, I don't enjoy reading about it). I enjoyed this book to an extent the first time through. I like rich description and analysing imagery, metaphors and other techniques. I did not, however, enjoy the second read through. It bored me to read every ...more
I'm currently reading and evaluating every chapter of this book in my current Year 11 I.B. English Class.
It was rather difficult to begin with. For those whom are unaware of the Australian cultural references to the landscape of Queensland and the terms used to describe Jim as a character, would not truly understand in full the depth the nature and moral values this moral is attempting to convey to us.
Although I have to say I didn't really enjoy this book, I wouldn't brush away it's significan
Jan 19, 2014 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up because it was on the shelf and I wanted something to read inbetween 2 private detective novels. It was only on the shelf due to being a high school syllabus book of my husbands from over 20 years ago. I'm glad that I wasn't forced to read it in high school, where boring books are rendered even more boring (A Backward Place by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala) and good books are generally ruined due to over-analysis (People Might Hear You by Robin Klein). I think I probably would have ...more
Jan 12, 2014 andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
fly away peter is definitely a book that i probably wouldn't normally gravitate towards if i were in a library or a bookshop (i had to read it 4 skool). whilst reading this i kept telling myself that the style of writing was "too descriptive" although some people could say that it's poetically written. there are some parts of the book that were a total bore to read and slightly confusing too. the parts about the war were very insightful as to what it would actually feel like to be in the war and ...more
Aug 08, 2011 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written almost short story this novel takes us to Queensland, Australia as WW1 is breaking. The characters are described in a wonderful style while interlinked with descriptions of local and 'immigrant' bird life. Suddenly the reader is transported to the horrors of trench war fare and how the main character Jim returns in thought to his Australian dear friend along with his beloved bird watching - these memories help him escape the unimaginable horror he is living each day. I was ...more
Peter Holz
Jim's obsession with birds brings him to the attention of Ashley, who hires him to watch birds, take notes and generally care for the wild habitat on his property. This is all rudely interrupted by the arrival of the first world war, which drags both men off to the trenches of Europe. While a solid depiction of the horrors of trench warfare I found the story to be too one dimensional with not enough links connecting the two parts of the book. If there was a message there, I failed to see it. The ...more
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David Malouf is the author of ten novels and six volumes of poetry. His novel The Great World was awarded both the prestigious Commonwealth Prize and the Prix Femina Estranger. Remembering Babylon was short-listed for the Booker Prize. He has also received the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He lives in Sydney, Australia.
More about David Malouf...

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“A life wasn't for anything. It simply was.” 2 likes
“So many things were new. Everything changed. The past would not hold and could not be held.” 2 likes
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