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Coonardoo: The Well in The Shadow

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  205 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Coonardoo is the moving story of a young Aboriginal woman trained form childhood to be the housekeeper at Wytaliba station and, as such, destined to look after its owner, Hugh Watt. The love between Coonardoo and Hugh, which so shocked its readers when the book was first published in 1929, is never acknowledged and so, degraded and twisted in on itself, destroys not only C ...more
Published 1972 by Angus & Robertson (first published 1929)
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This is an intensely unpleasant book to read, but there's lots to talk about regarding it, so bare with me.

So, I came across this book because I realised I knew almost nothing about Australian literature, and my mum agreed that it was pretty obscure before crying, "Oh! But you know, at the start of the twentieth century there was a whole bunch of socialist women writers, Marxists, feminists, I think you'd really like them." She gave me an old textbook of hers that outlined some of these writers,
I'm a little obsessed with novels about white/Aboriginal interactions, so this didn't disappoint. Some of the writing is shockingly graphic for 1929, and the descriptions are crisp and tactile. The plot is a little meandering and changes pace dramatically for no apparent reason, but the characters are solid.
This remarkable work should have been on school English curriculums decades ago. For all that we are now prepared to talk about and beginning to discuss in Australian society, to still not have such a book as this widely known is a travesty. And I don’t merely mean from the point of view of “indigenous studies”.

The deep insights Katherine Susannah Prichard presented in her serialized novel in The Bulletin back in 1929, cover much that is in current debates and policy shifts of recent years. In p
Meg Dunley
It felt like a real privilege to read Katharine Susannah Prichard's book, Coonardoo which was written way back in 1929. She wrote this book when she went up to the Kimberley's in the North West area of Australia and stayed on a station, Turee. She was enamoured by what she observed as a writer and was inspired to write about this. What is most interesting, I found, was that she writes in the indigenous language. I am not sure if it is actually reflective of the actual dialect of the mob who woul ...more
**sigh** Really, it just could not end any other way...

A love across race was not looked kindly at the time. A white man in love with a gin (Aboriginal)? God Forbid! No wonder that this book was not published until a later date. What a controversy it would have been. Prichard was definitely ahead of her time.

It was sad to read the different struggles and devotion on both sides. However, am always happy with the Aussie outback nature descriptions. There are none better!! And since it's nearly Aus
Davida N
Interesting, thought it was based on a true story until I read the last page, that Coonardoo's death was symbolic of the meaning of Wytaliba - the fire is all burnt out. I don't believe that this story is indicative of the relationships between white men and black women in outback Australia.
A highly curious novel relating to race and gender in early colonised Australia. The suppression of Hugh, arguably the protagonist despite the title, is particularly interesting.
Helenna Dohle
Loved the book! "Looking up at the stars she found herself pinned to the earth by swarming currents..." is such a beautiful way to of speaking.
This book was banned in the 1920s because of the depiction of the relationship between an aboriginal woman and English-Australian pastoralist.
200 pages covering 50 years in which nothing happens. had to read this for class and even the teacher did not finish it.
I was forced to read this for my Australian Lit subject at uni. It was surprisingly addictive. Beautiful. Tragic.
Wonderful Australian classic but such a sad story about a forbidden love between a white man and an Aboriginal girl.
Melisende d'Outremer
A story of the darker side to Australian history from the perspective of a young aboriginal woman.
I liked Coonardoo a lot more than I expected to. It is quite sad but written very nicely.
Sonia Chan
Best love story that I've ever read.
This is a book that in all probability is a white woman's view of the time in which she lived. It is honest and progressive but I did find it difficult to analyse the truth in what the author portrays as a forbidden love between Coonardoo and Hugh. She comes across as subservient and he as a mama's boy who uses this black woman over whom he could wield an influence as opposed to women of his own race. Of course, the context would be better appreciated in 1929 when the book was written. Still, an ...more
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500 Great Books B...: Coonardoo - Katherine S. Prichard 1 4 Jul 13, 2014 05:37PM  
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Katharine Susannah Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji in 1883, and spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania, before moving to Melbourne, where she won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. She worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria then travelled to England in 1908. Her first novel, The Pioneers (1915), won the Ho ...more
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