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Reckoning: A Memoir

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  5,367 ratings  ·  553 reviews
Heartbreaking, joyous, traumatic, intimate and revelatory, Reckoning is the book where Magda Szubanski, one of Australia's most beloved performers, tells her story.

In this extraordinary memoir, Magda describes her journey of self-discovery from a suburban childhood, haunted by the demons of her father's espionage activities in wartime Poland and by her secret awareness of
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 23rd 2015 by Text Publishing (first published September 30th 2013)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  5,367 ratings  ·  553 reviews

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John Purcell
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pretend you have never heard the name Magda Szubanski. I know it's difficult. You're probably already picturing her as Sharon Strzelecki in Kath and Kim, or as Esme Hoggett in Babe, or as Pixie-Anne Wheatley or Chenille fromFast Forward. 

But do try. Reckoning isn't a celebrity memoir. Magda's story is rich, beautifully told and moving. The daughter of Polish and Scottish migrants, it's a thoroughly Australian story. Like Raimond Gaita's Romulus, My Father, Madga's memoir centres on her relations
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
“…humour was the life line. It had got people through famines and clearances and clan wars. Humour. The life force”

Reckoning: A Memoir is the first book by English-born Australian actress, comedian, television presenter, radio host and author, Magda Szubanski. In it, she reveals just what has made her into the woman she is today, what the major influences in her life have been. She bravely exposes her weaknesses, explores her family history and details her successes and failures. In a memoir tha
When I was young(er) I used to look disdainfully at comedies and comedians, as if they were lesser forms of art and performers respectively. I read "serious" books and watched arthouse dramas. Comedies were for the plebs. Luckily, I'm always willing to change my opinions when called for.

In the last fifteen years or so, after consuming huge quantities of stand-up and funny movies (there are a lot of moronic comedies out there - I'm looking at you Adam Sandler and few of your pals) I've concluded
Steve lovell
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
'Is there anyone left who isn't totally in love with Magda Szubanski?' Well, yes in fact. Me. It is not that I dislike her. How could anyone do that after reading 'Reckoning'? It's just that, apart from her role as Sharon in the beloved 'Kath and Kim', she hasn't been on my radar much. I have never seen 'Babe', nor her various shows ('The D Generation', 'Fast Forward', 'Big Girl's Blouse') on the small screen. And yes, before you ask, I have nothing against females who make their living by makin ...more
Text Publishing
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book blurb for Reckoning, Magda Szubanski's memoir, promises that it will 'touch the lives of its readers' and that it 'announces the arrival of a fearless writer and natural storyteller'. Both statements could not be truer. It's only increased our awe for this incredibly talented and beloved performer.

Here's the powerful first chapter. Nothing you know about Magda Szubanski will prepare you for what is revealed in Reckoning

‘A brave and tender book about everything that matters most in life.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
there are some interesting anecdotes throughout, but magda’s insistence on including the most minute of details makes the book feel tiresome and self-indulgent.
while I appreciate that this book would have been cathartic for magda to produce, it feels as if the enjoyment of the reader was somewhat sacrificed for her own satisfaction
Ryan Buckby
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
actual rating: 4.5
i listened to this one via audiobook while on the plane and i have loved Magda's work on various comedy sketch shows and playing Sharon on the australian comedy show 'Kath and Kim' which is still one of my favourite shows to date.

this story had a lot of her childhood and beginnings of her story and i really enjoyed learning more about her life and what she went through in her life. I loved how Magda did her own audiobook which was a brilliant idea because i like when the auth
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aussie, 5-stars
A fantastic memoir, that digs below the surface of a persona we all know and love. A rich account of her polish and Scottish backgrounds and predominantly focusing on her fathers story and what a story is it....a compelling read and not the usual celebrity fluff, a worthy read that will take you on a journey that leaves a lasting impression
Sue Gerhardt Griffiths
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017

I went into this book thinking I would roar with laughter instead Magda Szubanski's words are nothing less than powerful, dramatic, passionate, vivid and at times humorous.
This is an in-depth account of her polish history and of her struggles with her sexuality. A compelling, intelligent and moving memoir. Magnificent! An amazing woman!
Catherine Davison
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did: I'm not a fan of biographies and especially as Magda is my contemporary I initially thought it was a bit odd to be writing a memoir in one's early fifties. As it turned out it was the fact that so much of her life and her life experiences mirrored my own that I really enjoyed it plus the fact that she writes really well....there you go, a good convent education pays off in some ways! I was moved by her coming out story, especially to her fa ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

Another for my Read Harder challenge, something I would normally not pick up without the nudge. I really enjoyed Magda's writing, she is brutally honest and funny. However, the story of her family history is a sad and horrible tale, embroiled in Polish and Irish political violence.

The slow progression of her comedy background through Australian TVs big comedy boom when I was a teenager was so great to read about and I think that knowing the venues, the comedians and the skits being discus
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh. Tears fill my eyes.
I have just finished and still feel the emotion of the last few chapters. If you have never until now indulged in reading an audio book, treat yourself and read this one with the author reading her own story. It, I feel, adds a dimension you will not get from the printed page. Saying that however, I am quite certain I may revisit this book a second time into the future via the written word.
I am not going to detail the story here as it has been reviewed fully by many other
Gillian Murrell
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I felt this was a bit hit and miss. I enjoyed learning about how Magda grew up, the family history was interesting and Magda's career was also interesting. Magda narrated her own audio book which as it turns out I feel was a mistake. It was very stilted and unemotional, at time Magda would do the accents of some or her relative and they were great. I feel Magda dwelled on her sexuality too much and even buy the end I still didn't think she was comfortable with it. All I can say is its ok that yo ...more
Janelle Collins
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I would give this book 10 stars out of 5 if I could. There has never been a better memoir than this one. Magda has the most amazingly poetic vocabulary, and is so aware of her feelings, describing them eloquently. I listened to Magda narrate this autobiography, which was a pleasure to listen to, especially as she can recreate both her parents' accents so accurately. I laughed out loud sometimes, and sobbed my heard out just as many times, as the story of her life thus far unfolded. If you ever r ...more
Fiona Mackie
Absolutely unputdownable, Magda Szubanski's memoir outlines her life and the survivor guilt she inherited from her father, as well as her realisation about her sexuality. I loved this and have kept reading it long after I should have gone to sleep, or put the book down to do other tasks. This is my memoir of 2015.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful biography told through the fretwork of family. It's a rare thing to find a comedian who can make you cry – Szubanksi is something special.
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've always been a fan of Magda since her Big Girls Blouse days, and was so lucky to purchase a signed copy of her memoir. In this book Magda describes in detail about her family, her father being a self-confessed assassin in Poland as a child. The stories of her father's family is quite disturbing in parts and reflects what life must have been like in the war years. Magda's father eventually marries her Scottish mother and together with Magda and her brother and sister, they move to Melbourne.

Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I really wanted to love this book. I'm a fan of her comedy, thought her coming out was fabulous and am based in her home town of Melbourne. Alas - I'm not a fan of navel-gazing biopics. Especially when written by someone who actually seems to have had quite a privileged life. (Oh dear - her dad wanted her to play tennis well). All the trauma was suffered by her relatives who seemed united in saying 'get over it'. I nearly choked at the last chapter. The book's written well, and the history of Po ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star
I have to say upfront that I am not a fan of autobiographies, bios yes. Having said that, and from my limited experience in reading the genre, I would say that this book is an excellent example. Honest, heart-warming and a very well-written glimpse into the life of one of Australia's favourite people. And mine as well. Who could ever forget the scarlet rash covering Sharon's face (Kath and Kim) after her pash session? Hysterical. A minor quibble is that I thought there was an over-emphasis on he ...more
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is great. A worts and all story of someone I've been interested in for a long time. Long ago I watched her performances on TV in Australia and admired her guts and humour. This is more than a celebrity memoir, this is a family history. Magda's father was a resistance fighter in Poland during WW2. There is a goodly portion of Irish history from her Mother's side too. Magda's story is interesting for me, her coming out as a lesbian, the issues she has with her weight. There was plenty for me ...more
Hazel Edwards
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This memoir is a homage to her Polish father's legacy of flaws and strengths. Beautifully written.
Highly recommend the keenly observed settings (including Croydon North) and characterisations which indicate why Madga is such a good comic. She notices details as well as emotions.
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I always knew she was funny, but Magda Szubanski turns out to be braver, funnier and more beautiful than I could ever have guessed. It has made me want to go back and watch "Kath and Kim" all over again, just to re-watch Sharon through Magda's eyes.
I listened to the audiobook, read by the author.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reviews
If you had met my father you would never, not for an instant, have thought he was an assassin.

So begins Magda Szubanksi’s extraordinary memoir Reckoning, which is as much a love letter to her dad as it is an autobiography of her own life.

Most British readers will know Magda from the Australian sit-com Kath & Kim, where she plays the sports-obsessed unlucky-in-love Sharon Strzelecki. But she also starred in the 1995 Hollywood film Babe, the story of a pig who wants to be a sheepdog, a
I listened to Magda Szubanski read this over many days as I travelled in my car. Listening to her, there were times when I thought "I'd rather be reading this". On some occasions I thought that she coped with the level of vulnerability she was displaying by flattening her reading. On others, I thought she read it too well and it was almost unbearable to listen to while attempting to drive. I cried and drove and was lucky.

I expected the wit, cleverness, integrity and intelligence because I've see
Julie Garner
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc
It's taken me a few days since finishing this book to review it. I have quietly absorbed all that I read. This book is so much more than it appears - an autobiography by one of Australia's best loved comedians.
Magda used this book as an exploration into her family history and how deeds from the past have intertwined with her present and helped shaped the person she has become.
Central to this theme is the love and misunderstanding between a father and a daughter (something I can relate to). She
Kate (Lillytales)
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book has one of the best first lines of a book I've ever read: 'If you had met my father you would never, not for an instant, have thought he was an assassin.'

Magda Szubanksi is a much-loved comedian, actor and writer; best known for playing the ultra-positive, second-best friend in the Australian TV comedy series, Kath & Kim. Although funny at times, Magda's memoir feels separate from her comedy work as it delves into her Polish ancestory, and in particular, her father's involvement in a
Lizz Sayers
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Absolutely brilliant memoir by one of Australia's funniest women. Madga's story was a riveting 'Who Do You Think You Are?' style journey into her father's war-torn past which has been Magda's cross to bear since birth.
This book flattened my misguided unconscious assumption that comedians are pretty simple, one dimensional people free from the burning angst of other artistic professions. How wrong I was. Magda is an exceptionally smart, brave and creative human being and her story is a reminder t
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A change of pace for me - an audio book AND an autobiography. Having given other audio books a largely unsuccessful try recently, I chose this one hoping the author would exhibit her acting talents in the delivery of the content. Which she did - and just as well because this was 12 hours of audio. Magda’s Scottish, Polish and Irish heritage gives lots of scope for her to read the book using the well-loved accents we are familiar with from her career as a comedian.
Rania T
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
For a woman who came up with some of the most memorable comedy sketches in Australian TV in the late 80's and 90's comes this multi level memoir that is well written, confronting, poignant and joyous at the same time. Be prepared to go on a reading journey that will teach you many things along the way.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting story but quite heavy with war stories of Magda's Polish father, depression, anxiety and Magda's struggle with her sexuality. I'm sad she found it so hard to be her authentic self growing up and I didn't think Australia was so hard on gays that she had to hide it. I could be wrong coming from a very liberal Holland at that time. I'm glad Magda is happy in her own skin now.
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Around the Year i...: Reckoning: A Memoir, by Magda Szubanski 1 15 Jul 11, 2016 03:46AM  
Melbourne Library...: Melbourne Book Club - April 1 15 Apr 21, 2016 06:15PM  

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“If you had met my father you would never, not for an instant, have thought he was an assassin.” 4 likes
“flight of confusions and disturbances would flutter across her cheeks like frightened birds.” 2 likes
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