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Happy Valley

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Happy Valley is a place of dreams and secrets, of snow and ice and wind. In this remote little town, perched in its landscape of desolate beauty, everybody has a story to tell about loss and longing and loneliness, about their passion to escape. I must get away, thinks Dr. Oliver Halliday, thinks Alys Browne, thinks Sidney Furlow. But Happy Valley is not a place that can b ...more
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published 1940 by The Viking Press (first published 1939)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Al Bità
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Australia’s only Nobel Laureate for Literature, Patrick White, published Happy Valley, his first novel (set in the Monaro district in south-east New South Wales), in 1939, just as WWII was about to begin. It was awarded the Gold Medal of the Australian Literature Society in 1941, the same year in which he published his second novel The Living and the Dead (set in London in the ’30s). It could be argued that it was only after he met the love of his life Manoly Lascaris in Greece during the War (W ...more
Dillwynia Peter
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't fully understand why White suppressed the re-publishing of this novel during his life, because there is nothing to be ashamed about it. Already we have classic White with his interest in domestic relationships & suburban morality.

The novel might be set in a small country town, but the pettiness, gossiping & morality that he would develop later in such books as The Eye of the Storm & The Twyborn Affair are all here. There are some style techniques that he didn't use later & I have to be h
Dec 20, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: literary-fiction
from More Intelligent Life:

"Happy Valley by Patrick White (Cape, hardback, out now). When this first novel appeared in 1939, reviewers including Graham Greene came together in a chorus of praise. Then Patrick White suppressed it. Reissued now to mark his centenary, it turns out to be a masterpiece. Happy Valley is a small Australian town, a microcosm through which White explores the passions simmering below the surface of apparently unexceptional lives. The only Australian writer to win a Nobel
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, fiction
It is no wonder really that the last of Patrick White's novels that I have read should be the first that he had written, as he had it withdrawn after its initial printing in 1939. The reason, given in the introduction, was that he was unhappy with his portrayal of the Chinese family in the novel, and admittedly there are a few descriptions which make for uncomfortable reading. Overall, however, the book is an excellent first novel, filled with his trademark stream of conciousness passages (more ...more
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a pleasure to read this first novel of Patrick White's. Do we really know why, after its publication in 1939, the author did not want it reissued? Was he embarrassed by his early work or protecting the identity of some of the people who were inspirations for the characters?
I find the area of southern New South Wales where the book is set a beautiful place; although I have never lived there I have that sensation of coming home when I visit. This immediately drew me to the place of the nove
Four stars (the actual star images have disappeared from this site) Text have done serious readers a service by re-publishing this Patrick White first novel which he suppressed. If you've read Tree of Man and The Aunt's Story, his masterpiece, you'll see where they came from. However, it's a most enjoyable and approachable read in its own right. I was reminded of its re-publication by my recent reading of Michelle de Kretser's Questions of Travel (Allen & Unwin)as she left tantalising references ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
My sis-in-law revisited a Patrick White novel, so I decided it was high time I actually read one. So I started with his first novel, Happy Valley. Interestingly White refused to allow reprints on this novel.
White takes the reader deep into the lives of a few families in a small NSW country town, Happy Valley. All want to escape the drudgery and boredom of this place. The story was quite sad. The helplessness of people in the late 1930s stuck in a rut they had no hope of leaving, and how that sh
Jayden McComiskie
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
It is so unbelievable he prevent this from being republished for so long. Happy Valley was a fantastic read. Easily a five star. The language and stream of consciousness was employed masterly.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

‘Waiting, waiting for what, Happy Valley waiting in the dark is the question without answer.’

The novel opens with a hawk's-eye view of the (fictional) Snowy Mountains townships of Happy Valley, Moorang and Kambala. Then, as the Kambala publican's wife gives birth, the narrator tells us that the towns were founded as a consequence of gold prospecting, and still have some inhabitants of Chinese descent. It's a peaceful place that Clem Hagan has to work at, as overseer for the Furlows. Or is it? As
Pat Giese
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Such a hard life for the people of "Happy" Valley, somewhere in remote Australia. The local doctor is compassionate but weak in that he seeks the company of Miss Alys Brown instead of his wife, Hilda. Their son Rodney is bullied at school and has one friend, the local Chinese store owner's daughter. Rodney has great aspirations and like Margaret Quong because she is smart. The elite Furlow's are shallow and seem only to admire wealth, diamonds & horses. Their daughter Sydney is head-strong to sa ...more
Dec 25, 2012 added it
While this is, by no means, the author at the height of his powers, it is nevertheless a sure indicator of the excellence to come. The incorrectly-named Happy Valley is peopled by the type of characters we will come to know well in White's later works, and their generic and particular unhappinesses and frustrations are familiar to us even today.
White's keen descriptions of the landscape, and characters' relationships with it, are exceptional. Equally engaging is his use of stream of consciousnes
Natalie Muller
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The formative work of a future master.
Big Pete
Feb 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terrifyingly assured for a debut novel, although the build up to the ending is a little loose. A restrained, beautifully written modernist work that marked the birth of perhaps the most formidable career in Australian letters.
Text Publishing
‘[Patrick White] was a prophet, and from his sublime mountaintop, he sent down lightning bolts on our callow heads. Some of these bolts are vivid in Happy Valley, his first novel, published in 1939 and now reissued…The novel stands up well in the high company of its later brethren. It prefigures the greatness to come, and is a more adventurously wrought than many of our own age. White is a mesmerising narrator whose prose illuminates the most ordinary object and event in new and gripping ways.’
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
At the beginning, this was very promising. The narrative is character-driven, detailed, with interesting plot points and a focus on domestic life, which interested me. Despite the detailed description of each character, I still felt very detached from them - I think this was because White used their full names when referencing them, which put me off a little. I couldn't feel sympathy, dislike, anything towards the characters because I simply didn't care enough about them. This made anything that ...more
Phil Devereux
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Phil by: David Marr
I can't pretend this wasn't a bit of a slog in parts. It is White's first novel, and given his prestige, I have to assume his stream-of-consciousness style improved with later books. Its use here made a couple of chapters almost entirely indecipherable. That said, overall it is an interesting story with (some) very well drawn characters and is certainly evocative of the specific place and time, 1930s rural NSW. And it did pique my interest enough that I would still like to read some of his later ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
The first Patrick White novel I've read, and the first he wrote. Reading it right after #menwritingwomen became a thing on Twitter, I did notice the way the women were written (and how often they think about their breasts), not to mention the racial issues with the characterisation of the Chinese family - which is the reason White wouldn't allow reprints of the book in his lifetime. This is a very close portrait of a small town and all of the drama and love and mess that entails. ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Small-town Australia under a microscope.... Small-town anywhere for that matter.

"There is something relentless about the hatred induced by human contacts in a small town. At times it seems to have a kind of superhuman organisation, like the passions in a Greek tragedy, but there is seldom any nobility about the passions of a small town..."
Sarah Harrison
This one started a bit slow and thoughout the book theres parts that get very long winded but I overall theres enough to the story and to keep it interesting. I liked the insights into the different characters and while this book isnt one I'd recommend to anyone, I did enjoy it & thought it worth reading. Was published in 1939 and is a much different style to books published more recently. ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This was... fine. The writing style seemed erratic, yet I couldn't help but become attached to some of the characters, particularly Alys. At times, I did feel like the frequent change in perspective was distracting, but overall it was an okay novel. I do look forward to reading more of Patrick White's work! ...more
Maureen Mathews
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was exciting to read White's 1st novel (not reprinted in his lifetime). Ther were clunky bits, and self-consciously Joycean moderbuat touches, and obvious imagery (Woman playing with snake = prick-teaser), and he's none too keen on women, but I LOVED it. Grim, but beautiful. Very much the embryonic White. Very disappointed that it is the only White novel available on Audible. ...more
Colin Bisset
Brilliant character writing. Feels like the archetypal Australian novel with the bored inhabitants of small-town Australia dreaming of better lives and watching everyone else around them. Lots of threads that mostly get drawn together.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 12review, australia, c20th
Review comping soon!
James M
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: x-australia
A story of loss and loneliness set in a desolate town.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to believe this was White's first novel. It seems so assured. ...more
Aveugle Vogel
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
"the hands turning, the heart" ...more
"Australia. The land of plagues.

A beautiful first novel.

Happy Valley was published in 1939, when White was 27. He had been publishing short stories and a few middlingly-received plays (none of which have been professionally published) and was living in London. This was natural enough for an upwardly-mobile Australian family of the time; the Land Down Under was still considered a very-poor-man's England!

Set in a chilly village in the Snowy Mountains of country New South Wales - born from White's
Aug 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit to not being a Patrick White fan.
I have read a couple of his novels and now this, his first, and his "last" one (published posthumously despite his wish that it be destroyed as he considered it unfinished).
White's very unique style is there in each of the books I have read. It seems to have changed little over time. The much discussed "stream of consciousness" and the lack of punctuation can be a little tiresome at times. White portrays the township of Happy Valley, its people and
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
White’s first novel, apparently republished for the first time since 1939’ish. (White had always blocked its reissue supposedly as he feared it libeled a family he knew during his jackaroo years). Anyway, it’s a great book, not exactly White-lite, but the plot is very melodramatic, the overall effect very Faulkneresque, with the more modernist stuff occurring more sparingly than his later, far more challenging stuff (at least based on my reading of Voss and The Tree of Man. A perfect introductio ...more
John Benson
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This was the first book published by Australia's only Nobel Literature laureate. It came out in 1939 and then the author banned further printings of the book. This edition was republished by Text Publishing in Melbourne after he died. It is the first book by Patrick White that I have read. Despite its title, it brings out the lives of different characters in this small mountainous town, their interconnections and sorrows. While the characters are interesting, I wasn't that fond of the book and i ...more
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Patrick Victor Martindale White was an Australian author widely regarded as one of the major English-language novelists of the 20th century. From 1935 until death, he published twelve novels, two short story collections, eight plays, and also non-fiction. His fiction freely employs shifting narrative vantages and the stream of consciousness technique. In 1973, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Li ...more

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