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From the Wreck

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  266 ratings  ·  85 reviews
From the Wreck tells the remarkable story of George Hills, who survived the sinking of the steamship Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859. Haunted by his memories and the disappearance of a fellow survivor, George’s fractured life is intertwined with that of a woman from another dimension, seeking refuge on Earth. This is a novel imbued with beauty and feeling, f ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Transit Lounge
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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  266 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible gem of a book. What starts off as a historical novel of the wrecking of a ship soon takes an unusual but brilliant twist as we follow one survivor, George a man on board, and the other... a being from another planet. What follows is a twisting, haunting yet sometimes hilarious and heartbreaking tale of characters who all want to belong to someone or something. Utterly brilliant. One of my favourite reads of the year so far.
T.D. Whittle
Jun 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australia-nz, reviews
*** Plot spoilers alert ***

I had never read Jane Rawson until now, and I just love this book. From the Wreck weaves a tale based in a completely believable "real-world" Port Adelaide of the 1850s, but the net is shot through with luminous (or, rather, bioluminescent) threads of magic. The book keeps us floating in a sense of timeless wonder, drifting back and forth between the hard reality of life on land with the "boot stompers" and the beautiful world that simmers and shimmers beneath the ocea
Michael Livingston
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful and utterly unique book, about loneliness and belonging, trauma and recovery all with a shape-shifting alien thrown in. That makes it sound much wackier than it is - this is sad, lovely and deeply original.
Robin Riedstra
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Move over Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s Tralfamadorians, there’s a new alien in town.

In Jane Rawson’s fourth novel, From the Wreck, she takes her unique approach to historical fiction. Rawson is known for playing with form and function within narrative structures. Her first novel, A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, blended dystopian fiction with the motifs of a humorous road trip and was shortlisted for an Aurealis award. Her novel Formaldehyde cemented Rawson as an author known for their quirky s
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I feel like my more recent Australian fiction reading list has inadvertently featured bleak reads with young, vulnerable female characters at its centre. So it was refreshing to read this book!

A unique, imaginative blend of historical and speculative fiction, this is a story based on a real event; the sinking of the steamship Admella off the coast of South Australia in 1859. The author’s great great grandfather, George Hills, survived this shipwreck but not without residual trauma and survivor’
Chris Wolak
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had decided not to give star ratings this year, but couldn’t stop myself from giving this one 5 stars. It’s amazing. So rich and complex, yet a breeze to read. One of those novels I wanted to start reading again as soon as I finished it.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars. For some reason this book just didn't click with me. Maybe my expectations were abnormally high, it was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and has had many favourable reviews, but it never rose above the level of just being a nice entertaining read for me. I did enjoy it, especially the parts narrated by Henry. I think Rawson does a wonderful job of taking the reader into his head and experiencing the world and life through a young boy's eyes. inquisitive and questioning everyth ...more
Debbie Robson
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew from the start of this novel that From the Wreck was going to be something unique. I mean a famous Australian shipwreck and an alien, some sort of cephalopod? How intriguing is that? What I didn’t expect was the outcome of reading this marvellous book. But more about that later.
From the very beginning Rawson takes you to the heart of being on a ship and then soon after into the world of Australian life in 1859. Everything rings true from the conversations of the crew to the depiction of t
The author recreates the shipwreck tale of her great-great-grandfather who survived 8 days on the sea before being rescued. It could have been a nice enough story but to provide some spice the author adds to the mix a shape-shifter alien marooned on Earth. The story moves from the third person when describing the human characters to a drifting complex of words when narrated by shape-shifter. Quite an accomplishment which worked for me.
Family history genealogies will never read the same again.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
In 1859 George Hill survived the sinking of the Admella. The way how he survived will hunt him forever...

This is an original and intriguing story set in Australia. It reads like a family drama with a supernatural touch. I loved the alien aspect and what it did to George but was puzzled by his son Henry, who behaved too macabre for my taste.

A couple of times the abrupt changes in style and perspective from one chapter to the next confused me. Not only the setting changed, also the mood and the t
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Spectacularly late to the party on this one, but so glad I finally got around to reading this. Reading? More like devouring.
Kate Wyver
Loved the descriptions of the shapeshifting and squishy tentacles, and everything to do with birthmark. Got a bit lost by third trail of the story, but see why this is easily loved.
Cass Moriarty
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
From the Wreck (Transit Lounge Publishing 2017) is the new novel from author Jane Rawson and it is utterly, utterly strange and compelling. It's difficult to find the right words to even begin to describe this evocative hybrid of historical fiction and science fiction, this tale of grief and loss combined with playfulness, adventure and imagination. At its centre is the tragedy of the 1859 sinking of the steamship Admella, off the coast of South Australia, and the story of the survival of George ...more
Carolyn DeCarlo
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
A great idea executed poorly. I enjoyed so much of the details of this book, from the Mark, to the giant blue octopus, to the relationship between Henry and Georgie. Overall, though, this book did not do it for me. The amalgamation of narrative voices could have been a good touch in a longer book, but made me feel held at a distance from both George and Bea, the two characters (besides, perhaps, Henry) we are supposed to understand the most. And I'm not sure this is the type of novel where heari ...more
Justine Hyde
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Genre-bending, ambitious, wild and magical. I loved this novel. Rawson challenges the boundaries of historical fiction with a shape-shifting alien character. She takes us on a journey from dusty and dry 19th century Adelaide, drags us down into the deepest oceans, flings us out past the stars and into space and then reels us back to earth again. This tale of loneliness, trauma and grief is equal measures tender, dark and playful. This novel is original and deeply human. Rawson is masterful at st ...more
Ian Mond
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If the world was fair and just Jane Rawson’s From the Wreck would win numerous awards, both literary and genre. Not that shiny trophies are the arbiter of great fiction, but they do draw attention to the nominees and this a novel that's worthy of the hype and buzz regularly applied to lesser works. From the Wreck is an extraordinary piece of writing, in the way it blends genres, in the way its ambitions are matched by sublime prose, in the way it explores and questions life in all its varied sta ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A very interesting and unique read. Sometimes the shift in narrative confused me (which I suppose isn't to hard to do) and took me out of the story. I'd deff recommend if your looking for a historical novel with a surreal element, and I'd deff look to read more by Jane Rawson in the future.
Rachel Watts
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jane Rawson writes the most unusual, genre defying books and this novel is no exception. Somehow it seamlessly blends historical and speculative fiction while remaining true and invested in both. Wonderful concept, beautifully executed.

Full review:
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting novel with a different approach. I didn't really enjoy it but could see the writer was aiming for another level. Lots of people admire this book but it didn't work for me.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A strange tale of young man who, in 1859, survives a terrible shipwreck off the coast of Australia thanks to the aid of a mysterious woman. After they are rescued and back on land the woman soon disappears. The young man, one George Hills, struggles to deal with this terrible ordeal. It seems that his mysterious rescuer may actually have been a shape-shifting alien from another dimension.

"From the Wreck" deftly mixes the genres of historical fiction and fantasy. The writing is subtle and quite
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Jane Rawson for giving me this book to read.

When I first started reading this book I couldn't 'get it'. The part after the ship sank was just a bit confusing for me. I just wasn't understanding what was going on but I kept on reading and I'm so glad I did.
This is an awesome story about life in the 1860's and beings from somewhere else. It is wonderfully written and cleverly crafted in a story.

I admired how you have taken a true story about a ship that your great great grandfather was
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like what the author did here. She's added such an other-worldly element to a real event in 1859 that made me float through her writing.
We really are specks that get way too caught up in our worries and fears....
"Why were you so angry? You lived, you fool! You got to have a whole wonderful life on a beautiful world and all you could do was rage against it......You're a speck, a tiny speck in time, in space....." page 254.

This novel was a worthy inclusion in the 2018 Miles Franklin Long
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just as strange as A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists, the other book I've read by Rawson, which is good news. But this one is even more accomplished, set in mid-nineteenth century South Australia, based on a real shipwreck that an ancestor of Rawson's survived. She introduces a shape-shifting alien creature from another dimension into this historical fiction scenario and it's all the better for it as she tells a humane story about pain and loss.
Jessica B
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Possibly the best book I have ever read
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Strange and compelling. Utterly unique. I love the writing style and character development. The alien aspect didn't really appeal to me, but overall it was an engaging and atmospheric read.
Jul 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
What an interesting place Jane Rawson's brain must be.
Dasha M
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
From the Wreck is (at surface level) the tale of George Hills, ancestor of author Jane Rawson. In the afterword, Rawson describes her decision in fictionalising Hills’ story post research into the real-life wreck of the Admella. The value of immersive research is evident in Rawson’s depiction of a richly layered historical landscape that is never bogged down by restrictive detail. Rawson skilfully reveals nothing more than those crumbs required to appreciate the unfolding dramas of the character ...more
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jane is my friend and her book snapped me out of a months-long reading slump. I liked it quite a lot: a genre-mixing historical fiction with a bit of sci-fi in the background, but also a mediation on what it means to be haunted by past trauma, how past trauma has reverberations on later generations, and also about travel: about feeling compelled to wander and explore, and about how eventually you might feel content to stay in one place.
Angela Maher
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is certainly a unique and interesting book. I found it a little hard to engage with at times, but it was intriguing enough to keep me going with it.
I received my copy through Goodreads First Reads.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intriguing read - a story with historical basis but with a twist and a touch of magical realism or fantasy about it, where George Hills, survivor of a ship wreck in 1859, is plagued by memories of how he survived, and who helped him - and the question of how the woman came into the life of his son, Henry.
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Jane Rawson grew up in Canberra. During years as a travel editor and writer, mostly for Lonely Planet, she dawdled around the streets of San Francisco, Prague and Phnom Penh and left smitten. She has also worked as the Environment Editor for news website The Conversation. She likes cats, quiet, minimal capitalisation, and finding out that everything is going to be OK.
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