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The Whole Bright Year

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  45 reviews
In the summer of 1976 it's picking season on an Australian stone-fruit orchard run by Celia, a hard-working woman in her early forties. Years ago, when her husband was killed as a bystander in an armed robbery, Celia left the city and brought her newborn daughter Zoe to this farm for a secure life. Now sixteen, Zoe is a passionate, intelligent girl, chafing against her mot ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 29th 2018 by Viking
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aww2018, 2018-books
4.5 stars
The life changing events that occur one hot summer at a stone fruit farm in Australia in the year 1976, is the story of The Whole Bright Year by scriptwriter turned author, Debra Oswald. This is an intricate and meaningful tale of growing up, letting go, falling in love and making mistakes.

The Whole Bright Yearis author Debra Oswald’s second title for the contemporary adult fiction field. It picks up in the throes of picking season. The owner of the
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Whole Bright Year is the second adult novel by Australian playwright, television scriptwriter and author, Debra Oswald. Young widow Celia Janson and her sixteen-year-old daughter Zoe were picking the peaches by themselves. Old Roza, their fruit packer, watched from the shed. Their regular pickers hadn’t turned up and the ripe Red Havens needed to be picked this week.

When Roza’s son Joe turned up with a tattooed young bloke and his pierced older sister, a pair he’d rescued when their car bro
I love Debra Oswald's work for TV, but this novel just didn't grab me like I thought it would. The orchard setting was fabulous and I really felt that it came to life for me, but I didn't particularly care for any of the characters and the plot didn't give me anything I haven't read before. Just OK for me. ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Debra has created heartwarming characters who leap off the page and become real people with whom the reader has a personal relationship. The plot is compelling. This book is a great accomplishment. Looking forward to the next novel by Debra Oswald.
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Whole Bright Year is the second adult novel by Australian playwright, television scriptwriter and author, Debra Oswald. The audio version is narrated by Maria Angelico. Young widow Celia Janson and her sixteen-year-old daughter Zoe were picking the peaches by themselves. Old Roza, their fruit packer, watched from the shed. Their regular pickers hadn’t turned up and the ripe Red Havens needed to be picked this week.

When Roza’s son Joe turned up with a tattooed young bloke and his pierced olde
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite of Debra's books so far. ...more
David Chenu
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An outstanding book which I read almost in one sitting. Beautifully written with a story line that continues to build up and till the last page. Highly recommended.
Kerrie Laurence
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel. Wonderful story line of a mother who yearns to hold on
to her child to keep her safe from life, and the daughter who needs to break
away to make that life. The other interlocking characters - Roza, Sheena,
Kieran, Joe , each have stories that bring tenderness and tension to the
story, as well as a lot of humour. A must read.

Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this gritty Australian novel. The story of Celia and her 16 year old daughter, Zoe who together, run a peach orchard. Their relationship seems fine until brother and sister, Kieran and Sheena come along as itinerant fruit-pickers.

The minute cracks in Celia and Zoe's relationship, crack wide open when Kieran and Zoe run away together.

Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book left me wanting to know more about the characters, I felt they weren’t explained properly and the events in this book seemed rushed, there was no real build up other then ‘young love’ which I completely understand can happen but the circumstances seemed unrealistic considering Zoe and Kieran only knew each other for 10 days. I felt the Cecilia and Joe thing quite restrained and unexplained, even more so that Joe had sex with Sheena and nothing came about it other then ‘a good f ...more
Kylie ward
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. This book started out doing ok. I was liking the characters and the peach farm setting. Then things had to turn ugly and I started to hate Zoe and Kieren and there behaviour. I really disliked how childish Zoe had become. I never like Kieren to start with but his choices that he made we infuriating for an 18yr old boy.
I still liked Roza and Celia and I didn’t see why she was the issue for Zoe when all Celia was doing was being a parent!
This angered me and I just couldn’t stand Zoe an
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this Australian based book. Debra s grasp of trauma, youth, substance use and mental health issues is exceptional. She is such a talented story teller who has made a simple easy read out of a heavy set of incidents.
The sucker for romance in me wishes for a different ending, yet I know that only happens in stories.

Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
*Slight spoilers ahead.*
Apparently this is the novel of Debra Oswald's play The Peach Season. Play, book, we are in the hands of a masterful writer here. At first I didn't think I'd be interested in the outworkings of an unusual (but obviously on-the-run-and-desperate) fruit picker taking off with the teenage daughter of the orchard owner, herself widowed by a violent act. But I really enjoyed Oswald's first book Useful, so was more or less happy to go with the flow and give it a go. That, and
Brenda Kittelty
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
There was something a bit wrong with the timestamp of this novel. It was meant to be 1976 but it was basically today sans mobile phones and the internet. That sort of thing really irritates me, but if you can look past that it wasn’t a bad story.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
It almost felt like a young adult book. The sense of the 1970s was not that strong, apart from a couple of food references. Hard to believe the police didn't do more, given the time the under-age character was missing. ...more
What a great read. I've heard of this author but never watched her tv shows. She drew such vivid characters and the plot twisted and turned beautifully. I felt empathy for all of them except the wife! ...more
Sheryl Maree Akintola
A bright and intriguing read...

A little slow to start, this was an enjoyable read, that went where I didn't expect it to go! Highly recommended!
Anita Hill
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Unexpected, flawed, compelling characters. Loved seeing how they came though.
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gripping then profound. Loved this. Have now read a second time and loved it even more. I love the way it's so unexpected in terms of how the characters shift, change and grow. ...more
Steve lovell
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
We’d have to go back to ‘The Secret Life of Us’ for a more engaging home grown tele comedy-drama series than ‘Offspring’. We’d have to go back to Clive James’ ‘Unreliable Memoirs’ for a funnier and more engrossing chronicle of growing up in Oz than ‘Flesh Wounds’. The award winning small-screen success that ran for seven seasons was written by Debra Oswald. The autobiography came from the pen of Richard Glover, Sydney newspaper columnist and radio identity. Both had new books, that I’ve just cau ...more
Tracy Bock
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
A single mum, hard working Celia - running a stone fruit orchard- is mother to Zoe, a caring, passionate, intelligent, focused teenager. While reading Debra Oswald’s ‘The Whole Bright Year’ I sat back and contemplated while sipping on my @duejolly Rosé- having just been blessed with our adorable granddaughter- I suddenly thought oh wow! What does my daughter have ahead of her! She now has her own daughter, and I’m thinking just like my girl- intelligent, caring, feisty, loving, curious, empathet ...more
Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

The Whole Bright Year by Debra Oswald. (2018).

This story is set in Australia in 1976 on a stone-fruit orchard where Celia, a widowed single mother, lives with her 16 year old daughter Zoe. Sheena and her 18 year old wildchild brother Kieran come to work as fruit pickers on the orchard. Sparks fly between Zoe and Kieran which could lead to strife as Kieran has a troubled past and Celia struggles with anxieties and stress for her daughter.
It's a very easy read, I fini
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is divided into two parts, and my reaction to the two was quite different. I really liked Part One, centred around the peach harvest and the blossoming of a youthful romance. The characters were nicely developed, and I particularly liked the ageing Roza (whose recipes reminded me of my grandmother's) and the prickly Sheena.

Part Two didn't sit so well with me. I couldn't relate to the motivations behind many of the characters' decisions, which was frustrating after enjoying their devel
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
A gritty novel that takes us back to the mid 70s and is set mainly amongst peach tree orchards. Starting at the peak of picking season two interesting characters enter the world of Celia and Zoe and end up turning everyone's lives upside down. The novel highlights how quickly things can turn for the worse or the better, depending on what choices are made. A solid read, a strong 3.5 stars, couldn't quite move it to a 4. ...more
Corinne Johnston
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I expected more from this novel because of Debra Oswald's screenwriting and plays. It reads more like a young adult novel than one for those over 18. Set in 1976 but one only knows this from clues (Mousetrap game for Christmas) if one lived through it. It is not until almost one third in to the book that the year is mentioned. The characters have little redeeming features and so much of the storyline is unbelievable. I was sorry I didn't enjoy this more. ...more
Lizzie Norman
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book.The characters were relatable and the plot believable. From the idyllic orchard and small town in the country to the seedy, dirty squats and night clubs in the city, the writing draws you in to the story and into the characters lives. I’ll look forward to the next Deborah Oswald novel.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-library
I binged this book on a road trip across the Victorian countryside and it was a nice indulgent experience. The motivations of the characters weren’t totally convincing but it was engaging enough and very Australian which I enjoyed.
Sophie Asquith
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
An easy, interesting read that oozes Aussie charm. The story follows an expected plot line, but the unique descriptions of the characters make sticking around until the final chapter worth it.

It would have been great if the 70s era was a little more woven in (at times it was completely forgotten - and this is a shame, as it was a draw card for me), but overall a great read.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good story, and an easy and enjoyable book to read- would be a good holiday read. The Whole Bright Year is about the events that occur over the course of a summer on a stone-fruit orchard. Oswald definitely has a skill for creating real, engaging and raw characters.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely written book covering a widows journey raising her teenager daughter who experiences first love madness with a boy with a chequered past. The book takes you on a wandering journey of pain and discovery.
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Debra Oswald is a Sydney-based playwright and author. She began writing as a teenager and sold her first radioplay at 17. Since then, she’s made her living as a writer for film, television, stage, and radio, as well as publishing a number of novels for children.

Debra has written extensively for the stage and is best known for her play Dags, which has had many productions both in Australia and over

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