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The Road to Gundagai

(The Matilda Saga #3)

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  465 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Blue Laurence has escaped the prison of her aunt's mansion to join The Magnifico Family Circus, a travelling troupe that brings glamour and laughter to country towns gripped by the Depression. Blue hides her crippled legs and scars behind the sparkle of a mermaid's costume; but she’s not the only member of the circus hiding a dark secret. The unquenchable Madame Zlosky cre ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 1st 2013 by HarperCollins Publishers
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4.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  465 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Victoria, 1932. On her sixteenth birthday, Bluebell "Blue" Laurence looks in the mirror of her bedroom in her aunt's rented house in Willow Creek, and sees a monster. The scars from the fire cover her neck, and her red hair is falling out. She can barely walk, reduced to a clumsy shuffle because of scar tissue joining her thighs together. Her aunts, Daisy and Lilac, whisked her away not long after the fire to this house in the country, where they feed her detestable liver custard and tapioca. He ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow what an awesome book. I'll admit this is my first Jackie French book other than her famous picture books like Diary of a Wombat. But when I saw this released and the 3rd in the series I thought my 11yr old would enjoy it. After a stressful few days for our family, my daughter was having trouble sleeping so I offered to read to her. We haven't read to her for a few years, she is an able reader, but in our stressful time we started again. And I was so glad I did it has been an awesome experien ...more
Lauren Boeyen
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jackie French never fails to amaze me with the way she writes. The only way I can describe it is magic, because it is vivid, exciting and nostalgic, seemingly without even trying.
Blue: As someone who is reading the Matilda Saga in order, Blue felt a little different to the protagonists from French's other stories. She wasn't brave like Flinty, or tough and determined like Matilda. Especially in the beginning of the novel, she did as she was told and went where she was instructed t
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Review on my blog - another great novel from Jackie French, book three in The Matilda Saga. Really enjoying this series.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and found it hard to put it down.
Interesting story of a rich girl who is nearly killed in a criminal fire, and then nearly dies through poisoning. She is rescued by a circus with interesting characters who turns out to all have their own secret stories.
The story takes place in the 1930 in Australia during depression times and gives a clear picture of this era. The heroin is also a strong woman who wants to have her own career and life and not only be 'a wife'...
The c
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Is one of my favourite and most cherrished books I have ever read. Has everything you could possibly want in a story!! Is full of adventure, secrets and friendships that will last forever.
If you’re looking for a real page turner then give it go!!!
I’ve read it so many times and I still find surprises xx
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading the entire series again in preparation for the release of book #8 next month!!
Still as absorbing and mesmerizing as the first time I read them, even though I'm now reading the series for the 4th of 5th time!!
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such an incredible book
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is very gripping. The way it was written was very clever, and the information was really accurate. I loved this book and recommend it to any teenager.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i love the excitement of the circus and the cover. This book has a very interesting start and it drew me in and i want to know what happens afterwards.
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another brilliant book in the Matilda saga and one that I enjoyed as much as the first book. The Road to Gundagai is about a girl who was crippled in the same fire that killed her family, and her mission to find a new family and live life at it's fullest. She lives with her aunts and when a circus comes to town she goes to watch it. She then runs away with the circus and finds love, friends and family. A gorgeous book!!
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book 5 stars because of the writing and the characters, which are pretty much the main elements of this book. I have always been a fan of Jackie French's writing, as I think it demonstrates true depth of character and feeling. The characters in "The Road To Gundagai" feel real, unlike other books, where you are just reading with no personality and emotion. The main character is Bluebell Lawrence, crippled with horrific burns to her legs. The book refers to Bluebell as 'Blue' througho ...more
Eugenia (Genie In A Book)
As the third book in the Matilda saga, Jackie French has once again produced another spectacular piece of Australian historical fiction. Following the journey of Blue Laurence as she escapes from her aunts' house to the Magnifico circus, this story is an enchanting one which delves deeper into the lives of the characters from the previous novels while introducing some new personalities who are just as intriguing. This author never ceases to amaze me with her beautiful storytelling, and I can see ...more
Lorraine Cobcroft
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story, set in the period of the Great Depression. Bluebelle Laurence came from a wealthy family and enjoyed a privileged life until her parents and brother were accidentally drowned and her house was burned by an arsonist hoping to kill her and take her inheritance. She survives to be nursed by stale old maiden aunts until her companion, a former domestic servant in her family home, suspects the aunts of trying to poison her and arranges for her to be spirited away to join ...more
Clare Cannon
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
I loved the heroine and all the characters, I loved the glimpse of history which shows the towns of Melbourne and Sydney during the depression, and I loved the mystery... but there are a few mature situations that—though naively told and without much detail—are not wholly recommendable for the young, discerning readership to whom I have so far promoted the series (the circus harem dancers who, though in costumes with false bosoms, know how to arouse desire in their audience, the apparently tople ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another great read from master storyteller Jackie French - the third book in her Matilda series. The main thread of the story follows the members of a travelling circus in Australian country towns during the difficult depression years. It slowly reveals their secrets, reasons for being there, and their loyalty to each other.
This novel not only produces a fascinating plot line with many surprises, but also includes so much historical detail it could be called a work of "faction". French's researc
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Really great read to continue the story that began with 'A Waltz for Matilda'. Superb historical reading that I have recommended to my more able Year 8 students. Blue's story is unique and unpacks the stigma associated with circus life and perhaps what we call 'carnies'. Connection back to Miss Matilda, Joseph and Flinty was well worked and in reading the notes at the end I can clearly see the future vision as questions get answered with each time period. What research goes into a novel of this ...more
Get Ahead Kids
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Blue Laurence’s life is a tragic story. She lost her parents to a boating accident, was rescued from a burning house, was poisoned by arsenic, and escaped the prison of her aunts’ mansion to join The Magnifico Family Circus.

Disabled by the fire, Blue hides her scarred legs behind the sparkle of a mermaid’s costume. Blue’s thrilling story is interwoven with those of the interesting and unusual circus characters.

As well as a tale of mystery, murder a
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book filled me in, although I didn't read it constantly because I was on holiday and sometimes I just fell asleep with the book open on me. Anyways, this book really took me into the early 20th century. It made me realise how much women's rights have changed. It shows us the struggles also the effects of the Depression within all of Australia. It showed us the loss of happiness, laughter and joy. I also really enjoyed Bluebell's story, her struggle for freedom and the evil of money. This bo ...more
Shirley Evans
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once a teacher-librarian always one. This book came from the children's section in my library and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would probably have put it in the young adults section, but perhaps I am out of date these days. The characters were great and the plot included mystery, excitement, romance and Australian history. As if this wasn't enough, one of the main characters was a very charismatic elephant and I love elephants. This was the third title in a series so I plant to read the other 2 at ...more
Kerryn Lawson
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having read the first two books in the Matilda saga I was keen to read the third instalment. Strangely it took me quite a few months to force myself to read it, I'm not sure why. It took me no more than a couple of chapters for this book to capture me hook, line and sinker though. An enjoyable read set in an interesting period of Australian history. I will never tire of reading Australian historical fiction, especially those written by the incredible Jackie French.
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-library
Another absolutely magical book in the "Matilda saga" from Jackie French. Again she captivated me with the history of my country in a way I'd never imagined. The story of the circus held a magical element to the book for me.

I loved the way this book has been woven in with the two previous novels in the saga. Easily read as a stand alone book.

Can't wait for the final two novels to be released. Well done once again Jackie French.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reviewer: Maddi
Rating: 4.5/5

I was a bit lost at the start and a little disappointed that I hadn't found any connections but then the ending came about and I loved the murder mystery sense of it all! One of my favourite series'. Would definitely recommend.
Elizabeth Allan
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Again, i've enjoyed Jackie's writings on Australian history, but putting her twist on it. I was not expecting lots of things in this story, but it really delivers plenty to keep the reader interested.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING! I loved the mystery in this book, it was so interesting and imaginative. I got really attatched to some of the characters, and I liked how characters from the other novels in the series featured, from a different perspective.
Annie Preston
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The first time I tried to read this, I had to put it down, because I found the plot a bit ridiculous. Now, about two or three years later, I've reread it and honestly it's so good, I'm so glad I picked it up again :)
Jul 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a solid three star book for me. I feel like while it is both well written and very unique, the pace is a little too slow and I disliked the main character. Nevertheless, this was an exciting instalment to the Matilda saga.
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Third in the Matilda linked series as just as good as the others. Would have liked more about Blue's life after she left the circus but maybe there'll be more in the future books
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful read, highly recommended
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Jackie is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator and the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014-2015. She is regarded as one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors, and writes across all genres - from picture books, history, fantasy, ecology and sci-fi to her much loved historical fiction. In her capacity as Australian Children’s Laureate, ‘Share a Story’ will be the primary philosoph ...more

Other books in the series

The Matilda Saga (8 books)
  • A Waltz for Matilda (Matilda Saga, #1)
  • The Girl from Snowy River (Matilda Saga, #2)
  • To Love a Sunburnt Country (Matilda Saga, #4)
  • The Ghost by the Billabong (Matilda Saga, #5)
  • If Blood Should Stain the Wattle (Matilda Saga, #6)
  • Facing the Flame (Matilda Saga, #7)
  • The Last Dingo Summer (Matilda Saga, #8)