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The Fortunes Of Richard Mahoney

(The Fortunes of Richard Mahony #1-3)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Set in Australia during the gold-mining boom, this remarkable trilogy is one of the classics of Australian literature.
Henry Handel Richardson’s great literary achievement, comprising the novels Australia Felix, The Way Home and Ultima Thule, weaves together many themes. Richard Mahony, despite finding initial contentment with his wife Mary, becomes increasingly dissatified
Paperback, 841 pages
Published 1986 by Penguin (first published 1930)
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  262 ratings  ·  24 reviews

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Ian "Marvin" Graye
Cry Me a River

I don't think I have ever cried so hard and so long as when I arrived at the end of this book.

In Defence of Slow Reading

I read it at a time when I had the time and inclination to embrace and be embraced by a genuine epic.
I don't know whether I would be as patient now, but that is my loss.
Hopefully, you, with the time available to you, will be more patient than me and you will be rewarded more recently as well.
Some things in life, as Paul Keating once said of his political opponent,
Justin Evans
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Warning: plot spoilers.

When your country has a tiny population, like Australia's, authors often have to symbolize more than one thing. Richardson, for instance, is Australia's Joyce (insofar as she wrote one of the great Australian young person comes of age novel). She is Australia's Eliot; not only did she, like George, give herself a 'man's' name; she also knew far more about 19th century intellectual life than most people of her circle would have known, and put that to good work in her novel
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read this book shortly after the birth of my second child (who turns 29 in about six weeks time). It was on the syllabus for a university course I was doing at the time. My enduring memory is sitting in bed at 2.00 am, reading while feeding the baby, with my tears falling onto his head. And then, continuing to read, well after the baby was asleep again, because I couldn't put it down. An epic book.
Angela Meyer
It's about the life of the restless Richard Mahony, from the Ballarat goldfields in the 1850s, via many adventures in Australia and abroad, to the latter part of the nineteenth century. It’s also a stunning portrait of a marriage, and an incredibly detailed account of colonial Australia: Ballarat, Melbourne, the bush and the seaside.

Reading it was one of the most fulfilling literary experiences I’ve ever had. This is mainly due to the character of Richard Mahony and his self-induced tribulations
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic epic of what it means to be human, by following the life of a man and a marriage, with all the foibles of humanity and love and weakness and fear, but the memory is love. A rereading of a favourite.
Bryn Hammond
A soul's slow, slow descent. I remember the trauma.
John Purcell
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beyond brilliant. Without peer.
This was a difficult one to rate. For most of the book (nearly 90% of it, according to my Kindle) I was ready to give up at any moment. I was going to give it a two-star rating. Not one star, because even in the depths of its interminably meandering middle, it had clear literary merit. But god, it was so BORING. In the chronicle of the lives of Richard and Mary Mahony, it felt as though the author left not a single day undescribed. And then, towards the end, it suddenly became not only interesti ...more
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great Australian Novel. Heavy going in spots, but worth it. Mahony (pronounced MAhony as he would remind you) is an intelligent man with ambitions to rise. He has a restlessness and a somewhat contrary nature, both of which characteristics contribute to his eventual downfall. He is championed only by his long suffering wife- he loves her deeply but never really understands her. Mahony is like a warped version of Micawber- he believes that if he picks up and moves to a new situation then ever ...more
Aug 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australiana
I can see why this book was a classic, but I found it too long. I disengaged several times. The strength of thos book to me, was the characters. They really evoked strong emotions ranging from sympathy and affection to disgust and annoyance, often about the same character in the same chapter.
Carole Dent
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVED this book. Absolutely unputdownable
Michael Dalton
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whew! Amazing!
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 9-10
the ending is SAD! oh god i cried, and i couldn't sleep after. (i never cry from books)
okay, lots of this book is nice people, little events, writing varies from fine to amazing, but like lots of writing of this period has passages of intense emotional insight into how people work.

What makes me want to give it 5/5 is the incredible, central portrait of a marriage, in-depth and life-long, showing two completely believable natures and how they unite then drift apart, so that, when you're reading
Diane B
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To start with, a warning - this book is LONG. 942 pages of fairly small print. It's really three novels in one, so you need to be committed!

The story is set in the latter half of the 19th century during the Australian gold rush and as the title describes, it tells of the rising and falling (and rising and falling...) fortunes of Richard Mahony, a man for whom the grass is always greener elsewhere. I found him incredibly frustrating and maddening, but also a strangely sympathetic character, trap
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Given its length, inevitably it is uneven and lags a bit in places, but - the third and final book, in particular, is unbelievably moving, displaying a piercing insight into married life and familial relationships. I wept at the end.
Michele Mason
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most enjoyable books I have ever read, and easily the best Australian book. I continue to be amazed that this is not more well known and recognised as one of the best examples of Australian fiction.
I read it as a three volume set and couldn't put it down.
Highly recommended.
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect descritive book of early Australian life.
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourites, always ready to read again.
Paul Blakemore
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Text Publishing
‘The Fortunes of Richard Mahony is a masterpiece, a great novel. Reading it was one of the most fulfilling literary experiences I’ve ever had.’
Angela Meyer, LiteraryMinded

‘More than any other novel in our literature, more than Voss, The Fortunes of Richard Mahony deserves the accolade of the Great Australian Novel… it is a mighty and moving work, this bursting at the seams anti-epic to the muse of a vanity which sees every golden bowl broken and every silver cord loosed.’
Peter Craven
Jul 16, 2016 marked it as to-read
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Family and Self

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Martin Brakman
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Sonya Staffolani
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Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson's use of a pen-name, adopted for mixed motives, probably militated against recognition especially when feminist literary history began. Maurice Guest was highly praised in Germany when it first appeared in translation in 1912, but received a bad press in England, though it influenced other novelists. The publishers bowdlerized the language for the second imprint. ...more

Other books in the series

The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (4 books)
  • Australia Felix
  • The Way Home (Fortunes of Richard Mahony #2)
  • Ultima Thule