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The Blue Mile

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Broke and hopeless in 1929, Yo O’Keenan flees the violence of his home in Chippendale, and by some miracle charms his way into a job on the Harbour Bridge, a new start for himself and his little sister, Agnes.

Meanwhile, on the north side of Sydney, in her cluttered cottage at Lavender Bay, a young and ambitious costumier, Olivia Greene, works on her latest millinery creati
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 2017 by Jazz Monkey Publications (first published May 1st 2014)
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3.84  · 
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 ·  205 ratings  ·  47 reviews

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Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Blue Mile is set in the 1930's in Sydney.

Eoghan O'Keenan not only has to deal with a difficult family life, but now he has to deal with losing his job as well. Times were tough for many people, particularly during the Great Depression, but Eoghan had had enough of everything, especially his home life, so he decides to leave home, taking his seven year old sister, Agnes with him. With nowhere to live and no plans in place Eoghan and Agnes find themselves bunking down in the Botanical Gardens
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All lovers of historical fiction - and lovers of a damn good story!
In the few days before Christmas in 1929, Eoghan O’Keenan (pronounced Owen he told strangers - but Yo to family and friends) found himself without work – the downturn was affecting them all, and his mates were in the same boat. So spending their last pay on the grog seemed like a good idea at the time. As he staggered home to face an abusive father, he knew his life wouldn’t be worth living – an alcoholic mother, a mean drunk for a father, a brother who had disappeared years before, another one ...more
Dale Harcombe
As one who grew up in Sydney and recognised some of the places mentioned, I really enjoyed the setting of this novel. It is obvious a lot of research went into it about the building of our wonderful Harbour Bridge, the Depression, attitudes and conditions of the time and the way Jack Lang was deposed. So all that added to the authenticity of the book. I liked the way Eoghan O Keenan and Olivia Greene were drawn to each other despite their very different backgrounds and upbringings. Eoghan’s love ...more
A lovely book (with an even lovelier cover) which describes beautifully Sydney as it was at the time of the construction of the Harbour Bridge. I liked the way the author set her main characters living one each side of the bridge and coming together as the bridge did. I really enjoyed the chapters given to Yo and Agnes. They felt so real and reminded me a little of Ruth Park. However I could not take to Olivia at all. I understood that her attitudes and beliefs belonged to that period and that d ...more
Julian Leatherdale
This is one of those rare things in Australian fiction: a political novel that is also a romance. Bridging the class divide and told in alternating first-person voices, its central story tells of an improbable but convincing romantic attraction between an Irish Catholic labourer and an aspiring young couturier (and businesswoman) of aristocratic descent and upper middle class upbringing.

While the story has a deliberately fairytale aspect (two lovers separated by 'the blue mile' of harbour betwe
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

The expanse of the glittering Sydney Harbour, known as The Blue Mile, is not all that separates Eoghan (Yo) O’Keenan and Olivia Greene. An unskilled Irish labourer escaping a poverty stricken, abusive home with his young sister in tow and the daughter of a Viscount and talented costumière making her name in Sydney society, seem an unlikely couple but a chance encounter in the Royal Botanical Gardens forges an unconventional and turbulent romance. Set against a period of great celebration and Dep
Set in 1930s Sydney, I really liked some of the aspects of this story. I felt that the author did a great job of depicting life in Sydney at that time - the threat of being laid off and the problems that ensued from that including evictions, the terror of the possibility of being taken by “the Welfare”, and the worry of the possibility of civil war as a result of politics. The Author’s Note at the end is worth reading for this, as well. I liked the chapters where the main male character, Eoghan ...more
☼♄Jülie 
The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly

This is a really good and insightful book about life and love in 1930's Sydney.
The title The Blue Mile refers to the mile wide expanse of Harbour water dividing the South shore of Sydney from the North shore, which are now connected by the Harbour Bridge.
Before the bridge was built the only means of crossing was by boat, and workers would choke the landing wharves during morning and afternoon peak hours when clambering for ferry transport back and forth across the Harb
Carol Preston
This is a moving and engaging story, set in Sydney at the time of the building of the harbour bridge. Eoghan O'Keenan loses his position at Fould's Boots in the depression years and finds the only job he can get is working on the bridge - a dangerous and challenging job, but the only way he can support himself and his young sister. When he meets Olivia, a milliner and dressmaker who is doing well in her shop and has been raised to consider herself above the working classes, Eoghan falls madly in ...more
Lauren Chater
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read, especially for lovers of historical fiction. I saw this at the library and the cover caught my attention... Gorgeous cover!

Other people have covered the plot so I won't go into it. I found it quite easy to get into, the characters have very distinctive voices. Some reviewers have mentioned the swearing ... I felt it was justified and 'true' to the character. It didn't bother me, maybe I swear too much? :)

There were some lovely passages, a some really interesting historical st
Jo Harrison
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nice easy listen in the car. Interesting to hear a little of Sydney's history in the early 1930's. Irish immigrants, the tragedy of how alcohol can affect a family, sibling love, the Catholic faith and the building of the harbour bridge.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was not my normal choice of reading, but after reading Black Diamonds and loving it, I had to read another Kim kelly book. This had me up til 2 am 3 nights in a row. just one more chapter and 4 hours later with the words blurring I was reluctantly putting it down. Olivia, Eoghan and Agnes were such wonderful characters. I loved little Agnes' ability to see magic all around her. I loved the descriptive way that Kim used to describe the people and the places. The use of clothing choices ...more
Selena Hanet-Hutchins
I loved this book. It kept me up at night, turning the pages. I loved learning about the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge through Yo (or Eoghan) viewpoint and I loved learning about the fashion from Olivia's viewpoint. And I loved their love story. In many ways this novel is what you'd expect of the elements it has brought together -- the turbulent between-wars Lang years, the last years of the Bridge being built, class-challenged love story -- but it's told with nuances that are unexpected ...more
The Blue Mile is the distance between Lavender Bay and Balmain on Sydney harbour -or just a ferry stop between the two. Olivia and her mother live above Lavender Bay in the little cottage her mother inherited and together run a couture business on the top floor of the Strand Arcade in the Sydney CBD. Eoghan, a reformed alcoholic, attempts to provide for his sister Agnes, he gains tenuous employment on the Bridge but still struggles to make ends meet in the small house in Balmain. Agnes and Eogha ...more
Karen Brooks
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Blue Mile is quite simply an extraordinary book. I absolutely loved it and, once I'd grown accustomed to its very original style, the quirkiness and authenticity of the language, as well as the way the tale is told, found it impossible to put down.

Set in the late 1920s and early 1930s in Depression-era Sydney, the book is narrated from two points of view: that of Eoghan O'Keenan, an Irish-Australian man eking out an existence in the slums of Chippendale, Sydney, and Olivia Greene, a lovely y
Karen O'Brien-Hall
Whenever I return to Sydney, I love flying in over the Harbour so I can gaze out the window at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Despite living away from Sydney for various periods, permanently for the past ten years, the sight of the harbour with the bridge joining north to south is my enduring image of home.
In The Blue Mile, Kim Kelly skilfully uses the construction of this iconic Sydney landmark as the background for her novel. This author is obviously very knowledgeable about the history of the pe
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
A historical fiction that takes the time period and setting of the construction of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and pairs it perfectly with a subtle love story.
The setting is the true highlight of this book. The book opens in Sydney in the late 1920’s, Kim Kelly gives the reader accurate insight into the political tensions, unemployment, trade unions and immigration issues of the time period. This is highlighted by the differences faced by the two main protagonists as they come from polarizing back
Jenni Boyd
The setting of this story is Sydney, and the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an international icon for Australia. The widest and one of the longest steel arch bridges in the world. I found the story interesting in regards to what risks and hardship the men suffered, something I had no idea about until reading this book, and will now look upon this monument with new eyes.

The story revolves around three main characters, Eoghan O'Keenan (Yo), Agnes (Ag) his sister, both Irish who flee fr
I WAS really enjoying this light read ...

Good main character (Olivia Greene - very young woman in a sort of 'Ugly Duckling'meets 'Cinderella' role).
Enjoyed hearing about the fashions of the day / the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge... and the politics of the day to a lesser extent because I found that a bit confusing.
The characters of Yo (Eoghan) and Aggie were fine .....

UNTIL **(Spoiler Alert)** Eoghan's 6 month bender. Yeah, Yeah, forgiveness is a fine thing.... but ignoring the fac
G.S. Johnston
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The novel is set in a difficult and yet exciting period of Sydney’s history. The post WWI depression has robbed the city of jobs and yet The Sydney Harbour Bridge rises from these ashes. Kelly deftly intertwines this history with a most-unlikely romance. Told through two separate voices, a fine balance is struck as the two claws of the harbour bridge, rivet to rivet, stitch to stitch, come closer together.

Kelly’s prose has a lovely surreal quality to it, possibly brought on by the use of presen
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really got into this novel. Kim Kelly explores the issue of the have and have nots and the impact it can have on star crossed lovers.

The book also investigates the risks people are prepared to take on to achieve apparently impossible results.

Eoghan comes from extreme poverty and emotional deprivation. Olivia lives in another world on the other side of the tracks. Both have experienced abandonment in different ways. They need to overcome the shackles of their different circumstances for their l
Written in first person in alternating chapters between Olivia (shy society girl designer) and Eoghan (child abuse survivor runaway homeless looking after his younger sister) who live across the harbour from each other, just a 'blue mile'. I only really got to like Eoghan as a character - he struggled with his moral code but stuck to it, and made some really strong choices for most of his story. The ending was too outlandish for me. Did they not have passport and visa controls in the 30s? Possib ...more
Mark Swivel
A great read that reminds us of the contradictions of this country, our dreams and our drunkenness, and why we dream and drink. The Blue Mile shows how the experience of ordinary folk and the building of our 'icons' has never been married in our politics. There's chaffing for mine between the romance - whose end is never in doubt - and the romance in the politics. And Lang like Whitlam was cut down as much by the working man as the toffs. (And himself ... ) But lovely that a reader be considerin ...more
Judy Wiese
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I needed something light after the last book I read & this story fulfilled that. It is a love story set in the 1930s between a young woman who is a fashion designer & dressmaker & a young man who lost his job in a factory & gained work on the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I enjoyed reading about the fashions & I learnt a lot about the iconic bridge & how it was such a challenge to build. It was interesting to learn about the politics at the time when Australi ...more
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Kelly's prose in this book. It flows with a lyricism that is rare in modern novels. The internal monologues give a direct insight into the thoughts, feelings and plans of the main characters and compel the reader on to finding out where it will all go. Kelly's depiction of 1930s Sydney is based on solid research, but she doesn't bludgeon the reader over the head with the details. I really felt like I was looking out of the eyes of people from that era. I look forward to discovering some o ...more
Kerri Jones
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Sydney in the 1930s when the harbour bridge was being built and the depression was looming over Australia, a young couple meet by chance and the rest, as they say, is history but there's a great storyline in there too if you can get a handle on the different style of writing offered on this book. Great characters and a great feel for the era it's been set.
Louise Briffa
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a Sydney-sider all my life, I loved this book for the historical view of the familiar, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Strand Arcade, two of my favourite locations. Loved the story, the setting, the time, and the characters. Meticulously researched and beautifully told.
May 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Established early on that this is not my cup of tea
Alison Swann
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another really great book by Kim Kelly. Highly recommend to readers who love Australian fiction. The research in Kim Kelly's books is brilliant.
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‘colourful, evocative and energetic’ – Sydney Morning Herald
‘impressive research’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Why can’t more people write like this?’ – The Age

Kim Kelly is the author of seven novels exploring Australia and its history, including the acclaimed Wild Chicory and The Blue Mile, and UK Pigeonhole favourite, Paper Daisies. Her stories shine a bright light on some forgotten corners of the past and
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