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Rush Oh!

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,487 ratings  ·  288 reviews
An impassioned, charming, and hilarious debut novel about a young woman's coming-of-age, during one of the harshest whaling seasons in the history of New South Wales.

1908: It's the year that proves to be life-changing for our teenage narrator, Mary Davidson, tasked with providing support to her father's boisterous whaling crews while caring for five brothers and sisters in
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 22nd 2016 by Little, Brown and Company (first published September 1st 2015)
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Esme I'm a huge whale enthusiast too and did not find it soul crushing. Some descriptions are quite visceral, but it's told in a thrilling and generally hu…moreI'm a huge whale enthusiast too and did not find it soul crushing. Some descriptions are quite visceral, but it's told in a thrilling and generally humorous way. I loved this book.(less)

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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  1,487 ratings  ·  288 reviews


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Hannah Greendale
It is 1908, and nineteen-year-old Mary Davidson must care for her siblings in the wake of her mother's death and support her father's rowdy whaling crew in the midst of the bleakest whaling season in the history of New South Wales. When a mysterious and handsome stranger arrives to join her father's crew, Mary must also navigate the tumultuous desires of her heart.

Rush Oh! gives a well-researched, fascinating account of whaling practices in the port town of Eden, off the coast of Australia. Fro
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Simon
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Really wanted to give this 4.5 stars to be fair. I am not a fan of books about boats or the sea but I was utterly charmed and won over by this tale of whaling and love discovered amongst the blubber. Highly highly recommended.
Carolyn
This novel is very loosely based on the life of George 'Fearless' Davidson, Master Whaler of Eden. He was a real character born in 1936 and the third generation to take up whaling. He was married (and not a widow as in this book) and had eight children, none of whom feature as his offspring in the story.

The novel tells the story of the whaling season of 1908, following on from several bad years, where George is struggling to keep his family and whalers fed. One of George's fictional daughters, M
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Marianne
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rush Oh! is the first novel by Australian screenwriter, director and author, Shirley Barrett. it is based on the life of Eden whaler, George “Fearless” Davidson, although Barrett freely admits to taking liberties with known facts. Narrated by his nineteen-year-old daughter, Mary, it tells of the events of the 1908 whaling season in Twofold Bay, giving the reader a fairly comprehensive taste of the life of a whaler in the early twentieth century.

As the eldest daughter of the widower, Mary is char
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MaryannC. Book Freak
Despite the fact that this book centers around the barbaric act of whaling during the early 1900's when whales were prized for their oil and whalebones for corsets this was actually a homey, sort of old fashioned read. I enjoyed the voice of the narrator Mary and her family who live by the sea where her father and his whale men set out to hunt these gentle creatures. The book depicts a time when people lived a hard life and the sea and earth supplied their means of surviving. I enjoyed Mary's vo ...more
Kate
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Firstly, if you haven’t seen Shirley Barrett’s film, Love Serenade, stop everything and see it. It is truly one of the best Australian films. Best. Ever.

If you appreciate the humour in Love Serenade, I’m quite certain you’ll love Barrett’s novel, Rush Oh!.

Rush Oh! tells the story of Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a prominent whaling family living in Eden on the rugged south coast of New South Wales. Mary narrates her family’s tumultuous experiences during 1908, a year that brings a tough
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Jenny
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did not expect to enjoy this book.... however I loved it.... it is flawed and there is a bit too much description of the whale killing.... but it is a great story. As it ended I began to think of the possibilities of a second book....
Renita D'Silva
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny, irreverent, highly original. Loved it.
Andrea
2.5★

I was expecting to like this a bit more than I did. It started off really well - the story was great, the writing was fine - but ultimately I think it was the tone that dragged it down for me. This is a fictional memoir of Mary Davidson, fictional daughter of real-life character, George 'Fearless' Davidson, a whaler from the Eden region of NSW at the turn of the 20th century. Mary gives us an account of the 1908 whaling season, although the narrative wanders off to other periods as the story
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Rebecca
A debut novel in which an Australian whaler’s daughter looks back at 1908, a catastrophic whaling season but also her first chance at romance. I felt that additional narrators, such as a whaleman or an omniscient voice, would have allowed for more climactic scenes. Still, I found this gently funny, especially the fact that the family’s cow and horse are inseparable and must be together on any outing. There are some great descriptions of whales, too:

Its ugly, misshapen head had the tumorous quali
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Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
This is such a special book. It’s charming, but not in a self-conscious way, with a wonderful first-person narrator and a sneaky emotional undertone. Rush Oh! follows the fortunes of the Davidsons, a whaling family in 1908 Australia. It gave me Jane Austen vibes, but without the archness – the whaling sections can be pretty gruesome, and the narrator’s descriptions of being earnest and awkward while flirting are painfully sharp. A fun, touching homage to a lost way of life, and to moments in tim ...more
Angela Meyer
I've long been fascinated by the relationship the killer whales had with the whalers in Eden (having read Danielle Clode's Killers in Eden years ago) and I was excited to learn about this novel. It's an enjoyable coming of age tale, told from the 1st person POV (with language suitable to the era) of the head whaler's daughter. The most absorbing, heart-in-mouth parts are Mary's recollections of the whale hunts. Otherwise, it's a gentle story of family, desire, struggle, loyalty, tradition and ch ...more
Michael Livingston
A slightly twee and hugely entertaining novel about the Davidson family, whalers in the town of Eden around the turn of the century. Based roughly on history, the book tells the tale of the killer whales of Eden who hunt cooperatively with the local whalers and is stuffed full of larger than life characters. It's not going to change your life, but it's a fun ride. ...more
Anna
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this bittersweet and slightly quirky historical novel. The narrator, Mary Davidson, is a well-drawn character, likeable and relatable, even as she deals with challenges and disappointments. The other characters are also well-rounded, many of them with fallibilities that demonstrate the author's understanding of human nature, and at times provide a healthy dose of humour.

The author has clearly undertaken close research into whaling at Eden in the early 20th century, and it provides a fa
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lark benobi
it was sweet, but i was bored. I wanted it to be more like His Bloody Project and less like Pride and Prejudice, a goal not helped by there being a character named Darcy in it. i didn't buy the narrative voice--it always sounded like an author trying to sound like a character. Another problem for me was that the narrator, a woman named Mary, is not present in the most gripping scenes she is writing about (of whalers in the act of killing a whale) and must narrate from a distance.

I got to the en
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Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
3.5 Stars.

This novel had a delightful and very strong voice. The conversational tone is sweet and engaging.

The setting is beautifully rendered. And considering how troublesome the topic is (whaling) it is incredibly sensitive and even handed in its exploration of this unique time and place.

This is essentially a novel about family and it has a melancholic tone and a bitter sweet ending.

I really enjoyed this novel.
Helen King
A lovely, gentle story (despite some of the graphic scenes about the whaling). Provides insight into life in early twentieth century South East NSW, including the dynamics within families, small towns, a small business, and between humans and other species. Beautiful writing, and I loved the touches of humour. It's inspired me to visit this part of the world, hopefully soon. ...more
Stephen
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rush Oh! is a more adult version Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books—with whales!—and I mean that as a compliment.

Wilder’s books are written from the perspective of an older author telling the story of her youth through the eyes of her younger self. They describe the charm and challenges of settling the American frontier in the 1880s and 90s, and are beloved by readers.

Barret uses the same formula in Rush Oh! to describe the life of the Davidsons, a whaling family from Eden, New South Wale
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Ericka Seidemann
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: whaling
Rush OH! is the battle cry when one sees a whale – a call to arms to run to the boats.
Set in the early 1900s in New South Wales, Rush OH! is a snippet of history when whalemen along the Australian coast would rush the waters to lance their fortunes. Unlike in America, the whalemen were not gone from their homes for years at a time, but instead lived along the coast to chase the whales near shore.

This is the tale of the life Mary Davidson, the 19-year-old daughter of a brave whaling captain, who
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Kim
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engaging story that was well narrated on audio.
I read Danielle Clode's work "Killers in Eden" back in the '80s and I know the Eden area so already was familiar with the topic and Shirley Barrett has given an entertaining piece of fiction loosely based on real events and a real family. George Davidson's fictional offspring are entertaining and The Whalers are far more gentlemanly and funny than I imagine the real men to be.
A fun one to listen to.
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Iris Bratton
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5/5 STARS

A fun and moving coming-of-age story!

Oh how I loved this book! It's such a thorough and entertaining piece of historical fiction. The narrative is so well-told that I flew through this in one day. It was impossible to put down as it was filled with action, comedy and a tidbit of romance. It was a pure delight to glimpse into the Davidson family and to share with them in the moments of love, loss and action-packed whaling adventure! This is such a charming read.

What I especially loved
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Caspette
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh I wish we could give half stars! The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I'm not sold on the ending.

This is a sweet, funny and often brutal book about a Whaling family in Eden NSW. Based on true events it is the memoirs of the eldest daughter Mary who is recalling predominantly the whaling season of 1908 (her story does wander to other years from time to time). While the father is based on a real person the rest of the family (and even his story line to a degree) are comple
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Eric Anderson
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoy it when novels clue me into fascinating new facts about the past. Shirley Barrett’s novel “Rush Oh!” takes place in the rural township of Eden in Australia. From a future point, Mary recounts the story of whaling season in the year 1908 so that her nephew can have a feeling for this defunct way of life. Her father George Davidson is a local hero as he leads whaling expeditions along the coast whenever they are spotted during their migration. What’s so interesting is that Barrett bases he ...more
Eleanor
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing that struck me about Rush Oh! was: this is a happy, happy book. That doesn’t mean it’s a book with a happy ending (although I would say that this isn’t a book with an unhappy ending, either). It means simply that the writing was obviously done with great pleasure and good humour, and the effect is contagious. In an industry that can seem saturated by serious, hard, important reads, Shirley Barrett’s glorious debut—about a whaling family in Australia at the turn of the twentieth c ...more
Terri
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I happened to flick through the Bailey's Prize longlist whilst on a recent browse through Dymocks, and so walked out this this gem of a book. Written by an Australian author, and all to do with whales - I was sold. I probably didn't quite register that Rush Oh! is not just about whales, but whaling, and so the graphic violence and gore of the trade as happened in the early 1900s NSW town of Eden was a bit of a shock to start with. Luckily, Shirley Barrett's main character Mary Davidson is an utt ...more
Kate
Despite the whaling theme, which did put me off until I remembered how much I love Moby Dick, this is such a light and entertaining read - so much fun and beautifully wriiten, illustrated gorgeously throughout. Richly evocative of its time and place.

Anne
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the first 2/3, the parts about the whaling and Mary's budding romance with one of the whalers. But the last third veered away from these storylines and the ending just kind of sputtered out. An interesting bit of historical fiction. Fun, unique. ...more
Gayla Bassham
I started this book feeling a little skeptical, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, largely because of the wry, thoughtful first-person perspective. The plot isn't earth-shattering, but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in Mary's company. ...more
Dana
2.5 Stars. I nearly abandoned this book at around 100 pages, perhaps I should have. I did find some parts quite engaging but mostly the style in which this was written frustrated me. This has some excellent reviews so clearly my opinion is not the norm.
meg
Apr 22, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
I’m treating myself to quitting this book because it’s Fine but there are so many books in the world that are better than Fine and i’m trying to learn my lessons from fevre dream
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Shirley Barrett is best known for her work as a screenwriter and director. Shirley's first film, Love Serenade won the Camera D'Or (Best First Feature) at Cannes Film Festival in 1996. The script for her film South Solitary won the Queensland Premier's Prize (script) 2010, the West Australian Premier's Literary Prize (script) 2010, and the West Australian Premier's Prize 2010. Rush Oh! is Shirley' ...more

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