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The River House

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The River House is a spellbinding debut novel, resonant of childhoods past and the beauty of the Australian countryside.

It is the late 1940s, and the Broody River runs through a maze of sandbanks into the Coral Sea. On its southern bank lies the holiday town of Baroodibah. But its northern shore is wild - unsettled except for the River House, an old weatherboard box on stu
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 4th 2016 by Random House AU
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Average rating 3.19  · 
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 ·  187 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Four year old Laurie Carlyle, her brother Tony and baby Miranda along with their mother and father holidayed often at the River House on the Broody River. An isolated destination with the only way to the River House being via ferry from the town of Baroodibah, the 1940s was a relaxed time for the family; Laurie and Tony would explore through the bush and down by the river on a daily basis. The old home had no electricity, only an outhouse and they used an icebox which meant they crossed the rive ...more
Jülie ☼♄ 

The story begins in the late 1940's with the young Carlyle family at their river house, the place where they regularly take their holidays.
The river house is an old weatherboard holiday cottage built up on stumps to protect it from occasional rising tides and floods.
Set on the northern edge of the Broody River near the holiday town of Baroodibah, it is an untamed, and apart from the Carlyle family, unpopulated area, remote from mainstream holiday makers staying at the more populated southern end
Jan 31, 2016 rated it liked it
The River House, a place of treasured family holidays, a place of secrets and a place of near tragedy. An intriguing well written novel that follows a family through the decades from the post war 50s, the heady turbulent days of the 60s and 70s and finishing in the first few years of this century. Perplexed is probably the best way I can describe how I feel about it, I think it misses the mark and although I enjoyed the experience of reading I feel the journey was better than the destination.
Sharon J
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found this an intriguing and thought provoking story and loved the Australian setting and incredible descriptions.

The story opens in 1949 when Laurie is 4 1/2 years old and the family are holidaying at their River House on the Broody River near a holiday town of Baroodibah in Queensland, Australia. Being told from Laurie’s perspective is cleverly done. We move through to significant periods in Laurie’s life and that of her family and as it progresses the perspective changes reflecting Laurie’
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was majestic! Cunnington swept me along in this epic novel about family and the tides of change. There were many metaphors that can be drawn on, that were cleverly interwoven through this beautifully written book. Cunnington has a writing style that allows you to be completely immersed in the family saga that focuses mostly on Laurie. Laurie has two siblings (I shall not divulge any spoilers in this review, but suffice to say that there are many twists and turns in relation to this alo ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The River House by Janita Cunnington is an excellent, Queensland, Australian read.

It's very well-written. Set in the 1940's in the holiday town of Baroodibah near the Broody River which is a maze of sandbanks leading out to The Coral Sea.

An old weatherboard holiday family cottage set on stumps is The River House where the Carlyle family take their summer holidays.

The River House is seen through the eyes of a four year old child, Laurie Carlyle and takes us through to her life as an adult, growin
Jo :: The Country Book Nerd
This book is slow and lack lustre. Despite this I felt compelled to finish it. The idea behind the book is good but is just too ordinary for my liking. To use a Seinfeld phrase, it was a book about nothing.
Fay Gerschwitz
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Did not finish this book. I became bored. With a good editor, it would have for a good read
Set in Australia from the 1940s onwards this is the life story of Laurie and her family, and it follows Laurie as a four year old kid, through her teenage angst years, university days, heart break, love, marriage, middle life and all the trials and tribulations along the way.

Laurie's family spend their time between their holiday home The River House in the holiday town of Baroodibah and their other home in sunny Queensland. Laurie's family - brother, sister, father and mother all play a big part
A Reader's Heaven
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

It is the late 1940s, and the Broody River runs through a maze of sandbanks into the Coral Sea. On its southern bank lies the holiday town of Baroodibah. But its northern shore is wild - unsettled except for the River House, an old weatherboard box on stumps where the Carlyle family take their holidays.
For four-year-old Laurie Carlyle the house and its untold stories fire the imagination. It is a place of boa
Sarah Jones
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
While The River House fell short of being a real page-turner for me and I was tempted at times to put it down, there were still many things I loved about the book and I’m glad I persevered.

The writing was beautiful as were the vivid descriptions of summer in Australia, a little reminiscent of a Tim Winton novel I thought. Being a child of the early seventies myself, it was a hark back to my own family holidays at the water’s edge, bumping along the “corduroy track”. The characters were real, co
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Fixed in time by historical references the river house is the all seeing eye of the book. The reader looks through its window and is drawn into the sweeping waters which foreshadow and exemplify the characters emotion and growth. The current changes as time passes, the children mature but are uncertainly observed as minors in retrospect to the greater forces of nature and its tides.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
An eloquent and beautifully told tale of growing up. Laura's perspective on herself and her family saga through childhood to adulthood. Exploring the the love, problems, secrets, betrayals, missed opportunities and tragedies of a lifetime. ...more
Helene Wood
I'm so sorry. I read about a 1/4 of this book and just couldn't read anymore. I did try 3 times though starting back at the beginning each time.
The overuse and saturation of describing everthing left me frustrated and exhausted
Danielle O'Sullivan
Jan 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book just didn’t grab me. Lots of unnecessary text that didn’t lead anywhere
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Took to much effort to read. I couldn't get the storyline. It was just a bunch of words strung together for me. ...more
Cass Moriarty
Jul 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Earlier this month I heard Janita Cunnington speak at the Avid Reader Big Breakfast Book Club about her debut novel, The River House, a sprawling account of the life of Laurie Carlyle and her family, set from 1949 (when Laurie is four) and continuing over six decades. At the heart of the story lies the River House, an old weatherboard Queenslander, set on the banks of the Broody River in the midst of wild, untamed country where cattle once ran. The Carlyle family holiday there regularly, until a ...more
Spanning from 1949 to 2005, The River House tells the story of Laurie Carlyle, her family, and the house on the Broody River. The site of many childhood adventures, adolescent yearning, secrets, fights and reconciliations, the house is at the centre of their lives.

Janita Cunnington hints at many different angles she could take the reader on in The River House. There's certainly a lot of stories crammed into the 400 or so pages. But the end result is something not unlike a disjointed narrative, f
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: aww-2016
I loved the premise of this book. The description of a family holiday house in a small town on the Queensland coast reached out to me immediately and I was quickly drawn into Laurie's story as she described visiting the River House at the age of four. It is the 1940s and life is simpler, although as we know humans have always experienced drama and tragedy - as well as happiness - within their lives throughout history. All these emotions are played out as Laurie's life and that of her family move ...more
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
*3.5 stars
A holiday home called the “River House” for the Carlyle family in the sparsely populated country town of Baroodibah, Queensland is the beautiful setting for Australian author Janita Cunnington’s first full length novel. The book opens in the 1940’s and the centred on the voice of Laurie, the middle child of the Carlyle family. This family focussed story spans some 60 years, following the ebb and flow of life for the individual members of the Carlyle family as they make their regular vi
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
From the moment I started reading this story until the end I was sucked into the story.

It started with a four year old Laurie and her older brother and the relationship they both shared with their father. It was heart wrenching at first and as they grew up, more complications about life and love happened to them and left you a little breathless. I could understand Laurie's point of view; her struggle with being cheated on by her best friend and then feeling as if her brother didn't even stand u
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think I liked this book so much because I am of Laurie's generation and could relate to all the childhood adventures of that time. The descriptions of their clothes, the furniture, the lack of electricity and running water, the outside loo - my childhood to a tee. As for the writing: it was an easy read and a most enjoyable family saga. Not always happy; but a family that ended up moving past their differences and sticking it out. A lot of seaside stories too. Floods, cyclones, adoptions, ment ...more
Tegan Ballinger
Nov 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish it - a rare thing for me. This book was set in a place I love that I've spent a lot of my life in, a time similar to me, and the writing was very descriptive of the environment - so it had all the hallmarks of what I would love in a book. So, what a disappointment - so long winded and confusing - the story did not flow - it was like the author had written little short stories or thoughts about some topic, and then just jammed them all into the book. These random thoughts were not ...more
May 13, 2016 rated it liked it
This is the story of a family, beginning in the 1940s and concluding with an epilogue set in the present. Set in Queensland it has magnificent descriptions of the coast and the idyll of summer holidays at the beach. The characters are carefully drawn and as I am of the narrator's generation I identified with the issues she faced. It is a slow moving book, sometimes frustrating with its leaps in time, but well worth reading. ...more
Kali Napier
Beginning in 1949, and spanning the lives of the Carlyle family until 2005, this novel is richly evocative and anchored in the Brisbane and surrounding environment. A fictional equivalent to Matt Condon's book above. This book could only have been written by a Queenslander who lived and breathed the politics of the 1960s-1980s. The story functions to weave together the memories that are inextricably linked with the local people and area--much like the Broody River. ...more
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
While I enjoyed reading about the wilderness and the beauty of having a house on the banks of a remote river I couldn't quite get what the story was about. It jumped from being a personal memoir through the decades to being some esoteric essay on life. Overall a very worthy effort for a debut novel though. ...more
Kerri Jones
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Probably just a little too much landscape for my liking. The writing was beautiful and flowed easily however the jumps and connections to the story you were meant to make between breaks and chapters got a little too much for me although admittedly they were usually clarified in the next section.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Hmmm.....some very evocative writing, interesting characters. I particularly enjoyed 'Doug' who, although not drawn out in great detail, really came to life in my head. If you like family stories, descriptions of Australia in earlier eras and descriptive phrasing you will may enjoy. ...more
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved the vivid descriptions of the Australian landscape. I could identify with a lot of the description of growing up in Australia. I feel the actual plots of the story lost its way.
Carolyn Enks
Mar 22, 2016 rated it liked it
A good Australian read l particularly liked the depictions of Australiana both landscapes and people.
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Janita Cunnington has been writing for much of her life, mostly under the desk — verse, stories, articles, musings — when her mind should have been on important matters. Some of her poems have been published, along with reams of public information, booklets, brochures and, with her husband, Col, a travel guide to South-East Queensland.

Janita was born at the end of World War II in the small New Sou

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