Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Fortunate Life” as Want to Read:
A Fortunate Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Fortunate Life

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  5,494 Ratings  ·  366 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
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Fortunate Life, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

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…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)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
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
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
Debra Watkins
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could rate this book more than 5 stars because it truly deserves a sky filled with stars and still it may not come close. I cried most of the way through the latter part of this book. Facey's life was less than fortunate at the best of times and yet he turned every crisis into an opportunity. On every single page of this autobiography Facey encapsulated the great "Aussie spirit" that people always talk about in this country.
I came to Western Australia in the late 1970s and grew up in th
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 ...experiencing ...empathizing ...something like that, I have determined my life will have one less souvineer so that I ...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
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
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
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
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.
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
Grace Sunflower
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Thomas Leek
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I am a mess of emotions at the moment.
Real Rating: 4.75.
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.
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.
Sally Edgerton
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
loved it - felt like I'd lost my best friend when I fineshed it.
Judi Cowlrick
Simply written indeed, do not expect a literary experience. I found the book compelling however, as a means of glimpsing the experiences of battlers in the early 20th century. If the facts are correct, Facey's memory is astounding, especially given the inability to record details of earlier life in writing.
There are so many detailed GR reviews, I won't reinvent the wheel by saying too much about the plot or characters, and instead just focus on why I belong in the camp of Facey fans.

I loved this book -- or rather the story, which I read in print more than 30 years ago and have just now listened to in audio book format -- a format that I have found highly problematic with many books. For example, I just could not finish listening to The Book Thief as the reader irritated me so much with his voice a
Daniel Jon Kershaw
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Albert Facey’s ‘A Fortunate Life’ has, in my opinion, been unfairly criticised for its simple prose. I am not sure why people would make this defunct argument considering the memoir was written by someone who was not a writer, and, until his teens, completely illiterate.

If you’re looking for a well written book, do not read this. In saying that, I enjoyed the sparseness of the language – he simply told things in an economical and modest way. However, there were moments when I cringed when he us
R.L. Stedman
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
My father recommended this. Nervously, I embarked on reading it - my father and I have little common taste in literature. I think the fact that Dad and I both enjoyed this book so much is a reflection of the broad appeal of the story.

Facey was born the same year as my grandfather, and he died the same year. Like my own grandfather, he was raised in extreme poverty, and served in World War One.

The story is fascinating reading; not only does it detail Facey's childhood and adulthood, it probably
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
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
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-books
What an amazing, inspirational story. It certainly puts things into perspective in our own lives. Obviously, this story couldn't be written in today's society - a nine year old not wanted by his mother goes out to start his working life. Of course in this day and age he'd be put into foster care.

Ranging over an 80 year period, "A Fortunate Life" is the true story of Albert (Bert) Facey. Set in Western Australia starting in the early 1900's, it is written in the most honest, least technical writ
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is told is such a matter-of-fact tone that you can also hear the old guy telling it from a rocking chair on a front porch somewhere (maybe Melbourne).
AB Facey believes he lived a "fortunate" life but I think everyone who reads this book will find other ways to describe it, such as "amazing" or "miraculous" or "courageous" or "grim."
It starts when he is a boy and his father dies and his mom ships him off to work for a family he does't know or like and goes downhill from there. What happ
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
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simply told with a power that I found stirring. The poverty, the Aussie battler, in a harsh environment was insightful to read just over a century after his story began.I found this audio edition worthwhile; the reader fitted well as an older person looking back on their life. I managed to borrow a digital copy from my library and mainly listened to it while driving. Quite a contrast to the horse and cart mode of travel described in the book.
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Harp in the South
  • My Place
  • For the Term of His Natural Life
  • My Brother Jack
  • My Brilliant Career
  • We of the Never Never
  • The Magic Pudding
  • Fortunes of Richard Mahony
  • Romulus, My Father
  • I Can Jump Puddles
  • The Dig Tree: The Story of Bravery, Insanity, and the Race to Discover Australia's Wild Frontier
  • That Deadman Dance
  • Power Without Glory
  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  • Carpentaria
  • The Shiralee
  • Come in Spinner
  • The Happiest Refugee: A Memoir

Share This Book

“I told him that I had at first, when I had to go out to work so young, but I was used to it now and I didn't feel lonely. There were always the birds and the animals in the bush. "They are like music to me.” 1 likes
More quotes…