He has been described as "Australia's most famous historian," but his work has been the target of much criticism, particularly from conservative and c...moreHe has been described as "Australia's most famous historian," but his work has been the target of much criticism, particularly from conservative and classical liberal academics and philosophers.
This is not really a novel, more like crib notes for high school ~ useful but not much depth.(less)
Ikey Solomon and his partner in crime, Mary Abacus, make the harsh journey from thriving nineteenth-century London to the convict sett...morereview finally!.
Ikey Solomon and his partner in crime, Mary Abacus, make the harsh journey from thriving nineteenth-century London to the convict settlement of Van Diemen's Land.
In the backstreets and dives of Hobart Town, Mary builds The Potato Factory - a brewery, where she plans a new future. But her ambitions are threatened by Ikey's wife, Hannah, her old enemy. As each woman sets out to destroy the other, the families are brought to the edge of disaster.
The characters Ikey, Mary and Hannah (Ikey's wife) were documented real people & some of the other characters in Tasmania are based on real historical people. Although Ikey's character is partially based on Fagin ( from Dicken's Oliver Twist) it's interesting just how much Courtenay has borrowed of Dicken's Twist to flesh out Ikey's London years particularly with his apprentice thieves. This is the first Courtneay book I've read. It's faced paced generally and keeps you hooked though a few chapters here and there dragged -although interesting & possibly historically close to actual reality of the early whalers, the point was long in coming eg. the chapter about Blue Whale Sally.
Here and there I was annoyed at some of Courtenay's descriptions of our particular Australian things such as daub and wattle huts. They felt like they were lifted out of the wikipedia, awkward and jarring compared to the dialogue. This may be because Courtneay is not Australian, Or ? felt the international reader needed that type of stilted information. Normally when I come across a term or phrase I am not familiar with in a book I look it up myself...I don't need the author to give an encyclopedic explanation midstream -that only works if two characters are speaking or there is a constant omnipresent narrator which I don't feel is present here. ( a glossary at the end - is more acceptable).
My other complaint is while Ikey is mostly billed as the main character, when he dies 3/4 way through, it's announced in a letter and the reader is wondering how and while there are two books in this series following this one, it seems odd he is so suddenly out of the picture. The real heroine of the book is Mary in my opinion, and it is she who achieves some greatness & transformation in the course of the story. I felt for her from the beginning, while Ikey was a little harder to understand, though I came to love him too with his penchant for liking many pockets in his coats.
Those who have no knowledge of convict times in Australia will find the conditions & punishments harsh. While I've read accounts before of conditions on the transport ships and of the lashings, beatings and meagre food rations and the inhumanity of The Female Factory orphans, it still shocks me. Makes you wonder sometimes how our Aussie psyche evolved into a "she'll be right mate" attitude.
There are several good quotes in the book, two I listed below - if I have time will find the others.
(wireless router problems...review later
Score! 50c today op shop find.
There was an Australian mini series made of this book with Lisa McClune which I missed probably for the better since many down under mini series end up seeming the same, particular period ones.
"When the poor embrace the tenants of morality it comes ready-made with misery as it's constant companion".
..."it is not the nature of things to remain calm. Contentment is always a summer to be counted in brief snatches of sunlight while unhappiness is an endless winter season of dark and stormy weather".
This is the tale of a reluctant hero, an endearing, if flawed, man whose stubborn integrity is nearly his undoing. Vividly conveying the spirit of the...moreThis is the tale of a reluctant hero, an endearing, if flawed, man whose stubborn integrity is nearly his undoing. Vividly conveying the spirit of the times, Tom Keneally's vibrant portrait of the river town of Kempsey manifests the inescapability of human malice in a place of natural splendour.
(first paragraph below;) "On a hot morning in the New Year, a black police wagon went rolling along Kempsey's Belgrave Street from the direction of West Kemspey. All of this in the valley of the Macleay on the lush and humid north coast of New South Wales. The wagon attracted a fair amount of notice from the passers-by and witnesses. Many shopowners and customers in fact came out onto the footpaths to watch this wagon be drawn by, and some of them waved mockingly at the dark, barred window of the thing. Tim Shea of T. Shea - General Store stayed behind his counter but looked out with as much fascination as anyone as the wagon passed, two constables on the driver's seat, and Fry the sergeant of police riding behind."
Some of my colonial ancestors settled in Kempsey, and "A River Town" amply filled in the brutality and beautiful atmosphere of the times. (less)
This 1991 prize-winning novel Lemprière's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk has as its background John Lemprière's writing of his dictionary (Bibliotheca...moreThis 1991 prize-winning novel Lemprière's Dictionary by Lawrence Norfolk has as its background John Lemprière's writing of his dictionary (Bibliotheca Classica" or "Classical Dictionary containing a full Account of all the Proper Names mentioned in Ancient Authors", (Reading,1788)), as well as the places the Lemprière family came from. The main character is John Lemprière, author of the Classical Dictionary, and also his father, Charles Lemprière. The rest of the story is "apparently" fiction. Am interested to see what Norfolk makes of this as Lempriere is an ancestor of mine. (less)
This book is probably out of print now and very hard to find. It's avail at the Mitchell Library at Sydney (which is where I managed to photocopy a fa...moreThis book is probably out of print now and very hard to find. It's avail at the Mitchell Library at Sydney (which is where I managed to photocopy a fair number of chapters for family history research). If you are looking for detailed info about very early settlers, ticket of leavers, colonials and emancipists in the Hunter Valley you might find it here.
(Emancipist was a term used for former transported convicts in the Australian penal colonies given conditional or absolute pardon). The book also contains cemetery lists, photographs, maps drawings etc. (less)
This is another rare to find Australian historical book about the Hunter Valley, you might find it in the genealogy sections of libraries (not for loa...moreThis is another rare to find Australian historical book about the Hunter Valley, you might find it in the genealogy sections of libraries (not for loan usually), or at the Mitchell Library, but online it goes for around $400.00 (AUD) ie at Ambire Secondhand Books :currently (http://www.bookshops.com.au/subjects/...). Which is why my copy is photocopied from a relative. :)
Many old historical books of Australia are pretty dry chaff to read through but W. Allan Woods's exact and meticulous narrative shines like the light of wild poetry, as the daylight shone through the cedar forests he writes about. It is a moving history full of cruelty and homely strength and vigour.
The book documents from around 1804 to about the late 1840's on the Coal River & environs (later named the Hunter River/ Hunter Valley). There is an incredible wealth of information for the genealogist & those seeking clues about their convict & colonial ancestors. My particular interest in this book stems from information within about my mother's great great great grandmother Martha & how she arrived here in Australia and so I been able to fill in one branch of my multicultural family tree.
I was at first disappointed to find that she was English (having grown up with the belief most of my ancestors were either Irish, French, other European or Indigenous)& that the English the cause of all our troubles... but when I chanced upon her story I was surprised. People came to the antipodes for many different reasons actuated by various circumstances or in pursuit of individual goals: driven by a compelling wind or cast up like driftwood in the tide. Free immigrants, like convicts were of varying backgrounds and dispositons. Other people's ancestor stories may not be of interest to everyone but Martha's disposition and unquenchable courage and the tale of her love story probably demands a novel on it's own. I was probably lucky to stumble upon it as my immediate family had no knowlege of it at the time.
Martha Sadleir (Sadler) daughter of a Knight Banneret (descent from one of the most powerful Tudors of England (Sir Ralph Sadleir) fell in love & eloped in 1823 with with John Elliott, mere Blacksmith whose father was a miller in Northumberland. Martha was disinherited and never forgiven by the family. Elliot was blacklisted and unable to obtain work of any kind in England. Finally through friendships and many requests John was employed by Thomas Potter Macqueen for his venture to New South Wales to transport emigrants, stock equipment and stores desperately needed in the colony. Macqueen's venture was the largest individual investment to leave England up to that time. Martha, John and their newly born daughter Margaret sailed on the "Hugh Crawford" and arrived in Sydney in 1825.
The Hunter area was still wild & largely unexplored and this was Macqueens area of interest. Mostly on foot and in wagons the party travelled through swamps and dense forests to Segenhoe (Upper Hunter). Martha was one of three white women to brave the area, and she the only one who survived there seven years in a mud and slab hut giving birth to several children much of the time alone as John acted as courier for Macqueen between Sydney and the Hunter. Martha befriended the local Aboriginal tribe the Kamilaroi who were fierce warriors and she did act as interpreter and learnt many of their local medicines. Years later the Elliot's moved their base to Maitland and Morpheth; new towns being settled and John was involved in the building of various mills.
The book details many of their adventures and those of other settlers and ticket of leavers, & all who ventured into the Hunter- there's a wealth of information for those looking for family tree clues. While I did gloss over chapters that had little info about my ancestors it is a highly readable history. It's not dry - the characters are fleshed out, human in all their failings and endeavours and the sources are researchable.
For me it was uplifting to find documentation that these English ancestors of mine were courageous, honest & treated the Aboriginals with dignity unlike some other accounts of settlers. The love story was a bonus. (less)
I may never get hold of these books about the Ukraine, but are on my wishlist to remind me to look out for them. While the Ukraine interests me I am...more I may never get hold of these books about the Ukraine, but are on my wishlist to remind me to look out for them. While the Ukraine interests me I am actually looking for books about preWW1 migrations into and from the Russian - Belarus area, so if anyone knows of any please let me know. (incl. biographies,histories,memoirs etc.) Thanks. (less)
I may never get hold of these books about the Ukraine, but are on my wishlist to remind me to look out for them. While the Ukraine interests me I am a...moreI may never get hold of these books about the Ukraine, but are on my wishlist to remind me to look out for them. While the Ukraine interests me I am actually looking for books about preWW1 migrations into and from the Russian - Belarus area, so if anyone knows of any please let me know. (incl. biographies,histories,memoirs etc.) Thanks.(less)