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A Fortunate Life

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  7,283 ratings  ·  486 reviews
This is the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. It is the story of Albert Facey, who lived with simple honesty, compassion and courage. A parentless boy who started work at eight on the rough West Australian frontier, he struggled as an itinerant rural worker, survived the gore of Gallipoli, the loss of his farm in the Depression, the death of his son in World War II an ...more
Paperback, 331 pages
Published 1981 by Penguin Books Australia Ltd
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SezLou Documents and records taken in WW1 were on the whole quite inaccurate. The failure of Gallipoli is due to the fact that the British Army had recorded …moreDocuments and records taken in WW1 were on the whole quite inaccurate. The failure of Gallipoli is due to the fact that the British Army had recorded the coast inaccurately and therefore we (the AIF) departed at the wrong area of the coast. This mistake cost the lives of thousands of men and yet through this Australia's reputation was formed. We can never imagine what those men went through and as such we can not condemn Bert Facey for his perceived mistakes. Also remember this is an autobiography of his life and memories. Don't criticise a 78 year old man who probably did a lot more than what you ever have done or will do. Don't just take the opinion of one man against the reputation and legacy of another man. (less)
Oz777 Yes he does, our family consists of Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren of Joseph Facey , Albert and Evelyns 3rd son. He married Emily Anne Hamersle…moreYes he does, our family consists of Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren of Joseph Facey , Albert and Evelyns 3rd son. He married Emily Anne Hamersley and had 5 children, Joseph passed away 17th june 2007, his wife Anne will be nearly 90. Thankyou for your kind review(less)

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Suzanne
I picked up this by recommendation of my daughter, and the owner of Dymocks when spending a Christmas voucher. Excellent choice!

I have to say this is a thoroughly thoughtfully told life story, of Albert Barnett Facey, an Australian born in 1894. The mere fact we are able to read the story of his remarkable life is testament to his hard work and tenacity; having taught himself to read and write. Albert had a hard life, being forced to work laboriously from age 9, working his little heart out for
...more
Sharon
Nov 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, I must say how much I enjoyed this book and what an extraordinary read it was. This story takes us on a journey of Albert Barnett Facey's life.

Albert's mother deserted him when he was only two years old. From that day forward Albert would have to grow up rather quickly. Having to start work at an early age was only the start for Albert, but he made the most of each day and tackled whatever life threw at him whether it be working hard on a farm or going off to war.

A beautifully written
...more
Simone
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those amazing books where you just can't find enough superlatives to convey exactly how much you enjoyed it and/or the impact it had on you. As a school student and as an adult you often hear tales of how difficult life was for previous generations, but it is only through reading a first hand account like this one, that you really "get" it.

Born in 1894 in Victoria, Albert Facey faced many and varied challenges right from the get go. Yet you get the sense that right from his earli
...more
Brenda
And that’s the way it was.

I would often go into the bush and watch the birds and think in some ways they were like me – they had to fend for themselves as soon as the mother bird thought that they were old enough.


Abandoned by his mother at the tender age of two, Albert Facey lived with some of his siblings and his grandparents in Victoria until 1899 when his Grandma decided to take them all to Perth in Western Australia where they would reunite with family. Bert’s granddad had recently died and
...more
Dillwynia Peter
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I finished this book with mixed feelings: the descriptions of the opening of the Western Australian Wheatbelt, and an Australia so foreign to us make the book wonderful; and yet, I felt it was too long in places and wondered when it would ever end. I am also very suspicious of the accurate dates and names of people recounted 70 years after the fact. Facey couldn’t write during the interesting aspects of his life, so there were no diaries to rely on.

Books on areas being developed, by those that a
...more
Joss
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An Australian classic that somehow I had not read before. I thought it would probably be a little boring, but in fact I found it a wonderful read. Even more so because I once lived in the Great Southern District of Western Australia, where Albert’s childhood was spent. Not that he had much childhood. It reminded me of how our early settlers struggled to survive. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Australian Social History.

I gave this book 5 Stars.
Kris
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While in the second hand store looking for books to read during my month in Costa Rica I came across the memoir, A Fortunate Life. My idea was to read books while traveling around CR and then leave them in whatever city I finished them thus making more room available in my suitcase to bring home souvineers. After reading this book, no, reading is the wrong word ....um...living ...experiencing ...empathizing ...something like that, I have determined my life will have one less souvineer so that I ...more
Marianne
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Fortunate Life is the only book written by Australian author, Albert Bernard Facey. The author recounts the events of his life from the late 19th century through to 1976. There are no literary devices employed: this is simple narration, the honest telling of a tale by a marvellous storyteller. What makes it such a great read is that it contains so many details of everyday life in an era devoid of the convenience of electronics, modern day appliances and fast, convenient travel and communicatio ...more
Laura C.
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I can't be enthusiastic enough about this autobiography by Albert Facey. This is the kind of book that you read aloud to your kids when they are beginning to be bored with you reading to them. Albert Facey was born in 1894 in Australia. Abandoned by his mother at age 4, he was raised by his grandmother in the goldfields of western Australia. He was let out to work at age 8. Completely self taught, he was unflinchingly hard working. He escaped from drunken employers after they beat him with a bul ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Stef Fatoni
Shelves: biography
This book was given me by a woman of Italian ancestry who was raised in Australia. In handing it over she noted that it was a text familiar to most Australisns. Having the impression that it was fictional I wasn't sure I'd read it. Given our friendship, however, I resolved to give it a try.

As it happens this is an autobiography of one Albert B. Facey, born just before the turn of one century and dead shortly before the beginning of the next. The focus of the work is on the first quarter of the t
...more
Sue Gerhardt Griffiths
Extraordinary!!! I was riveted by Albert B. Facey’s story from the first page. This book blew me away, I don’t think words can express how much I adored this novel. His modestly written autobiography is an inspiration. The struggles and hardships he endured throughout most of his life was sad to read about but Albert Facey believed he had a fortunate life. Truly awe-inspiring.
Describing the horrors he experienced at Gallipoli in World War I was extremely upsetting and I couldn’t help but cry buc
...more
Calzean
Quite a life did A.B. Facey lead. Sent to work in the Western Australian wheat district at the age of 9, his early employers used him as slave labour including one who horse-whipped him. He learnt a lot of practical things related to farming and by the age of 16 was able to manage properties. He kept moving from job to job and seemed to be industrious, no nonsense, very capable and intelligent chap. WWI sent him to Gallipoli and he returned in late in 1915 with serious internal injuries. He has ...more
Colleen Stone
Albert Facey was born around the time of Australia's Federation. If the author had been more aware of the conventions and devices of writing and a great deal more literate he might have made more of this and perhaps even changed the date of his birth to get a perfect fit. But neither Facey nor his country (and let's face it, Australia is the other main character in this book) was sophisticated or learned. Facey is born poverty in rural Victoria. Things go from bad to worse for his family and ove ...more
Kathy
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In Australia this is a famous autobiography and I remember first reading it in high school and when I was done I was glad it had been on the reading list. It opened my eyes to how hard life had been for earlier generations in Australia.

Albert Facey was the type of man I remember among my older rural relatives from when I was young: Resilient, a real handyman with only basic tools, never complains and always finish what they start. However, Facey's life was one of extremes from the early land cl
...more
Nigel
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This moving memoir, in plain, early 20th century Australian vernacular, was written by a man who was illiterate until his late teens, published when the author was in his eighties, and instantly acclaimed, bringing him national fame in the very last months of his life. It covers in detail an almost Dickensian childhood of poverty and enslavement across southern and western Australia from around the turn of the 20th century. Abandoned in infancy by his widowed mother to his grandmother, young Ber ...more
Sulie
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
One of the BEST books I have EVER read in my LIFE... I thoroughly recommend reading this novel!!.. It completely changed my perspective on life... truly TRULY well worth the read.. Tells the true story of the life of Albert. B. Facey.. (who will forever be in my heart and mind).. It paints a picture of Australia, from the 1900's, at the turn of the century, (when he was born), and further on throughout his life, and details the struggles he faced from a very very young age.. (and there were many ...more
Laura Tenfingers
I unfortunately did not enjoy this book. I felt it was full of very interesting information but was written in such a way as to be extremely boring.

Now, I mean no offense to Albert B. Facey. He was illiterate until a teenager and then only learned from workbooks on his own after long days of hard labour. I believe everything he did was commendable. But honestly, although the author presents a lot of interesting information about early 20th century Western Australia, I was distracted by his writ
...more
Tallsharon
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An old boyfriend, when I lived in Sydney, told me that if I wanted to really understand the Australian culture, I should read this.

Of course, I was much to busy living to pick up a book that I assumed was boring and "historical".

When I was forced to leave the country (visa expiration), I actually bought the book at the Sydney Airport, and started to read it on my way to Hong Kong on the plane, after I dried the tears from my departure and goodbyes.

I finished the entire thing within a few days b
...more
Jodie
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2016
Oh my goodness! Truly one of the BEST books I have ever read. What a crazy, sad, happy, unfortunate, lonely, blessed, wonderful, adventurous, FORTUNATE life this amazing man had. There were many occasions when I smiled, cringed, cried and laughed in this book. It is truly such a beautiful book/ recount of this man's life. I cannot begin to express how much I simply adored it. I would recommend this book to anyone, Australian or not, it is truly a masterpiece and really makes you think about life ...more
Dominic
Jun 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in an Australian story
I was surprised at how much I like this book. It is not what I would typically read: an Australian biography of an "ordinary" man, but his simple, humble writing really captivated me. He leads an amazing life filled with problems (wars, poverty, abuse, the depression) yet always seem to find the bright side and come out of it okay. An engaging read and quite the history lesson.
Sally Edgerton
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
loved it - felt like I'd lost my best friend when I fineshed it.
Missy J
My GR friend Caroline recommended this book to me while I was reading The Secret River several years ago. She thought that I would like A Fortunate Life and explained that it was considered a classic in Australia. I tried to look for this book in the library, but they didn't have it. Several years went by. Then right before the coronavirus lockdown happened, I found the young reader's edition of this book, which I believe is slightly different from the original book? It contains a lovely introdu ...more
Grace Sunflower
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne
Albert Facey was a storyteller. Australian born in the late 1800's, his mother abandoned him at just two years of age. From then on, he led a remarkable life from being farmed out at a young age (to cruel and kind families alike), working in agriculture and lifestock, serving during World War I at Gallipoli, surviving the Depression and the loss of a son during World War II. Facey often told these stories to his children, who begged him to write them down for future generations. As it happened, ...more
Tracey
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was the best book about Australia and what it means to be Australian that I have ever read. Mr Facey was not an author. He wrote this book to leave his story behind for his children and we are so lucky that he did. I felt like I was having a conversation with my grandad who died a long time ago and had a hard life working on the railways. This book covered his hard childhood (he started working at 8!), life on the land, Gallipolli and The Depression. I am so glad I read this near Anzac Day ...more
Sharon
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an Australia classic for good reason. From a social history perspective, it's valuable. His detailed descriptions of farming methods in the early 20th century were marvellous and important. The interactions between the settlers and local indigenous Australians was refreshing and honest.

This is a simply told story and it is the better for that. I admired his courage, even as a young child, to leave certain situations when he wasn't happy. To keep moving on when he was so young showed his
...more
Jonathan
Jul 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know it sounds funny, or what you'd probably expect. However this book changed me, in many ways that I can't describe.

Trying to explain what I mean, and think it puts things into perspective. That old phrase comes to mind - It could always be worse.

I would recommend this book to everyone, and noone - because I want to keep the story for myself. In the end, it's brilliant, and will keep you reading.
Thomas Leek
Jul 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
Wow! I am a mess of emotions at the moment.
Real Rating: 4 STARS
Albert Facey is a true hero, one who even throughout the hardships of life believes that his life is fortunate.
For some reason I was going to DNF this book. WHY? There was a slump in the middle, but as soon as he goes to war everything picks up and just keeps going.
If you want a good biography - even if you aren't Australian - I recommend this to you.
Amy
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
A simple book about the simple life of a simple man. Simply perfect. Gorgeous and immersive, this little treasure about the importance of kindness and friendship was a powerful book to read in the lead up to the 100 year anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. As with 7 Little Australians, gets bonus points for mentioning my home town.
Chyina
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. What this man went through and how he handles the many (and there were Many) troubles in life. A beautuifully, insperational life story. A must read for those who have hit rough time or simple need a bit of a smile and uplifting word. So glad my best friend Sulie suggested this book and now I recomend it to all of you.
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