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Careful He Might Hear You

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  330 ratings  ·  27 reviews
The story of a bitter strugle between two women for the possession of a six-year-old boy, written with tenderness, humour and irony.

First Paragraph:

'P S,' they said.

And 'Vanessa'.

Or sometimes 'Ness'.

PS. PS. PS. PS. Ness. Ness. Ness.

It sounded through his half sleep like surreptitious mice foraging through tissue paper. It was as mysterious as the lateness of the hour
Published (first published 1963)
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Penni Russon
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this as an airport read. I had seen the movie as a kid and it surprised me how much of the movie had stayed with me (hold me Logan, hold me).

Anyway, I loved this novel. I want to sieze strangers in the street and convert them to this novel. I love the porous nature of reality, the lightning crackle of otherworldliness, and the aunts, oh, I loved the aunts.

You know whenever people talk about place being a character in novels I always think, oh, what rubbish, places can't be characters.
Sean Kennedy
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you read about a book's brilliance so much that it taints your impression of it when you finally read it. No so with Sumner Locke Elliott's classic Australian novel "Careful He Might Hear You".

PS lives with his aunt and uncle after his mother's death. Six years pass, and his other aunt from England comes to Australia to 'civilise' him. The clash between the two aunts, who both feel that PS's mother chose them to be responsible for his upbringing, leads to a split existence and eventua
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1963, Sumner Locke Elliott’s Careful, He Might Hear You is a big, beautiful, bold-hearted book set in Sydney during the Great Depression. It’s most definitely a five-star read.

To read my review in full, please visit my blog.
Sofia T. (♥ Dimitri Belikov)
I had to read this for uni and I loved it! I couldn't hate Vanessa because she reminded me of Heathcliff (from Wuthering Heights ) and don't get me started about him! No, I haven't romanticised Heathcliff but I don't hate him either. To me, both characters (Vanessa and Heathcliff) act they way they do because of influences/ incidents in their lives (in Vanessa's case her mother and in Heathcliff's, that bitch Catherine)!!!
Deborah Sheldon
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at family dynamics. Multiple POVs ensure that, interestingly, no character is "the bad guy".
Jul 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Surprisingly good!

I got this book from a book flea market and didn't know a thing about it, what it was about, neither did I know the author. It stood in my to-read shelf for years and finally I took it and gave it a try - and read it in two days.

Without a huge storyline, it still did tell much and I found the ending surprising. I liked it.
Carmen Tudor
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me about a hundred pages to get into the novel, but once I did I felt connected to the characters in a way that surprised me. Generally I don't much care for omniscient narration, but I was able to set that distaste aside and focus instead on PS's quiet presence in what is essentially a study of control and family dynamics. Very nicely put together.
This is actually my first read for 2013. We were going to the beach on New Year’s Day and I took the couple of days before to consider which book I’d like to start the year with. I still didn’t quite decide ‘til nearly the last minute. We went to Balmoral Beach and when I cracked this book open, by happy coincidence, it was set around that area (Balmoral Beach / Neutral Bay). I was stoked!
I made a mistake by reading the Introduction though for it told me more of the story that I’d like to know a
Jun 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Set in Australia in the 1930s, this is a good but very soapy novel about two sisters fighting for custody of their dead sister's son. As a newborn, P.S. (so called because he's the postscript to his novelist mother's life) goes to live with his Aunt Lila and her husband George after his mother dies giving birth to him and his father is nowhere to be found. Though Lila and George are the only parents P.S. has ever known, when he's six-years-old, his aunt Vanessa arrives from London and carries ou ...more
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‘Graceful and assured.’
New York Times

‘What a surprise, a delight, to recognise my own world, the vivid textures and sounds of my own country, in [Locke Elliott’s] novels…This beautiful story, told with wit, warmth and irony, is one of the most moving and evocative books about childhood I know. Careful, He Might Hear You remains, in my view, among the greatest of our Australian novels.’
Robyn Nevin
Marc Lane
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
an excellent book, evocative not only of Australia but of human attitudes & prejudices, the misunderstandings of communication, and family relationships. The progenitor, perhaps, of Tsolkias' "The Slap" - only infinitely more subtle. Incredibly moving, especially as you see through the eyes of PS, the boy caught in the middle. It is also a rare snapshot of Sydney in the 1930s, different yet alike.
Geoff Mcdowell
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding book. It captures so much emotion and perspective of each character and also captures the essence of Sydney in the 1930's. So many geographical references strike a chord for my home town and much of the language typifies the memories of stories related to us by grandparents who grew up in the era. Possibly the best Australian novel I've read.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
No wonder this book has become a classic of Australian literature. A powerful story of a custody battle from the perspective of a seven year old boy. The story includes uncomfortably vivid insights into Australian culture of the time (when Britain was perceived as the 'home' country).
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly charming and beguiling read. Sydney as setting was deftly woven through all the emotional turbulence of the story of PS and his Aunts' (and the lovely silent George). Those rainbirds!

I had never heard of this Australian classic and I am glad that I discovered it.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I have never even thought about picking up this book. I really enjoyed it and the dynamics between the sisters as they fought for P.S.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is so beautifully written it is mesmerising. A classic and I returned to it after many years. A great story about a little boy in the 1930's that will stay with you for a long time.
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Loved it, I love the vivid descriptions of the heat, the harbour, Lila's garden and Ness' house, PS is such a heart breaking character. Loved reading about the Australia of my Grandparents.
Diane Morter
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I first started reading this, I thought it might be too outdated. How wrong I was. Absolutely loved it. It is set in Sydney during the depression. The main character is a 6 year old boy, P.S. (short for 'post-script') whose mother dies soon after giving birth to him and his alcoholic father disappears in search of gold. He is brought up by his Aunt Lila, a warm, maternal woman and her husband, George. He is a happy well-adjusted 6 year old, until his Aunt Vanessa, elegant and dominant, arri ...more
Bec D
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautifully written book with incredible insights into the weird psychologies and motivations of people. It was remarkable too I think to develop such a well-rounded child’s character that felt real and appropriate for his age. I was so on the edge of my seat when it got close to the verdict that I skipped a few pages and then wanted to throw the book across the room when I read the decision...but there was still more. I went from hating Vanessa to having great compassion for her. This is ...more
Yvette Adams
Set in 1934, written in 1963, filmed in 1983 and read in 2018. The story of two sisters fighting over custody of their 6yo nephew PS. I remember the film and my family meeting the boy who played PS. The line I remember from the film wasn't in the book! A fight between the sisters - "I hate you!" and the reply "And I despiiiiiiiiise you!". I wonder if my memory is even correct. :D
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-for-uni
3.5 or almost 4 stars, most enjoyable text I’ve read for uni so far this year
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, australia
Reading this again after many years, still a favorite.
Apr 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I haven't read this for maybe twenty years or so. I didn't even make it through to the end of the first page this time before I started getting anxious about what lay ahead for PS.

The way Mr Elliott described PS's thoughts and reactions to the chaos the adults in his world were creating was marvellous. His journey from his initial innocence to the loss of it was at times heartbreaking as he struggled to make sense of who he was and where he felt his loyalties should lie.

The honest description o
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
I first read this book when I was about 11 years old. Clearly, I didn't understand it all, but I loved it, so much so that I named my firstborn Logan. Yes, it's a popular name now, but my Logan is 35. I started a trend.
Have read a few other books by Elliott and enjoyed them all, but none as much as this one.
Bridget Anyon
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting insights into how relationships shape us.
Chris Miles
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May 19, 2015
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Elliott was born in Sydney to the writer Helena Sumner Locke and the journalist Henry Logan Elliott. His mother died of eclampsia one day after his birth. Elliott was raised by his aunts, who had a fierce custody battle over him, fictionalized in Elliott's autobiographical novel, Careful, He Might Hear You. Elliott was educated at Cranbrook School in Bellevue Hill, Sydney.