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Journey to the Stone Country

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,020 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Betrayed by her husband, Annabelle retreats in confusion to the supposed sanctuary of her old family home in tropical Townsville. There she meets and begins to work with ex-stockman and Jangga, Bo. Intrigued by his assertion that he holds the key to her future, she begins on a path into her past.
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Allen & Unwin Academic (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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Sep 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I read another description of Bo rolling a cigarette in the Pajero I am going to scream. Why not just call it a truck sometimes? Why do we have to hear about these interminable cigarettes? I am about to start going through with a highlighter to count those cigarettes. It is lazy writing and indicative of many of the annoyances of this book. I am not at all sure I am going to bother finishing it. It is a not very successful attempt at chick-lit sprinkled with race relations and the inhospitabi ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
Where do I begin! Since when does a seemingly affluent academic say, "Elizabeth and me ...." pp 42? What were the Miles Franklin judges thinking? This book is only a little shy of a mills and boon romance, and while they have their place, they don't deserve Miles Franklin awards. I agree with other reviewers: it is slow. Can only guess that the author has a politically correct moral on his/ her mind. (Alex?). Either way, the didacticism becomes evident in the last half of the book, which I get, ...more
Boy Blue
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, lit-fic
A fascinating work. A lot of reviews are negative about it but I think they miss the point; there is a monotony and rhythm to life in inland Queensland that Miller has captured well. It's a feeling that might be familiar to those involved in agriculture or land custodianship across Australia and the world. All readers should be warned that this is actually a philosophical novel hidden within a romance novel. The philosophical part slowly sheds it's romance skin throughout the narrative until the ...more
May 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I give up. I'm bored. I don't care. I'm sorry if you love this book, that's great, but it's not for me.
It might help if I was from Far North Queensland and had some connection to what the author is blathering on about, but it's all flowery crap as far as I'm concerned.
Sorry Australian Literature, once again we find we just can't get along.
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At a pace quick enough to pass a lizard lying flat out but slow enough to drink a daiquiri Mr Miller trawls through the stone country of Queensland, Australia with a satisfying and intimate tale. Nothing much resembling a plot. Characters a plenty. Images of a countryside you want to go stand and stare at.

I'm still not sure what I was so drawn to in this novel but it fair sucked me in.

Maybe as a 'pink' Australian living in a city it was the intimacy with the outback land and the locals that had
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all time favourite books. Gently weaving through the minefield that is associated with this issue, it allowed me a deeper understanding of place and connection to country. I later heard Alex Miller talk about this book and he said it is based on a true story...which made me love it even more. Oh and Alex Miller is a gem.
Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I read this slowly, partly to process the beautiful descriptions of the Australian landscape, but also because the story was really way too slow. If the story had been more engaging this would have been a gorgeous book.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another magnificent offering from Miller. I could tell it was his earlier work, somehow not as sophisticated as his latest offering, ‘Passage of Love’, but something different and just as worthwhile is being offered here. The transcendence of racial differences and reaching a point of peace and acceptance in empathy. Well written... loved the evocative descriptions of the Australian landscape throughout.
David Norris
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Subtle yet rich and beautiful. The story of Annabel is moving and realistic as she journeys back home to the cattle station where she grew up in northern QLD. Beautiful descriptions and some poetic passages worthy of the Miles Franklin. The love story is also prescient and layered with interesting symbolic connotations. Reminds me of Winton, Malouf and White rolled into one.
Aug 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a subtle book and while I was reading it I wasn’t completely convinced by it. Once I’d finished, I liked it more and it left me pondering a number of things about Australia’s past, present and future in relation to Aboriginal people.
E.H. Alger
After a great start, I nearly gave up on this book about half way through; I loved Miller's 'Coal Creek' (the only one of his I'd previously read) but was finding this uninvolving and difficult to pick up once I'd put it down. Mainly because I just could not believe in the relationship between Annabelle and Bo.

Annabelle, an intellectual, educated academic, accustomed to Melbourne's sophisticated food and culture, riding into the sunset with Bo? Really? A man who chain-smokes so badly that the o
Jane Lingard
Annabelle Beck is a 42-year-old academic living a comfortable, intellectual lifestyle in Melbourne with her husband, Steven. She returns home to an empty house; a note on the hallstand from Steven confirms her abandonment due to his fleeting infatuation with an honours student.

Annabelle feels betrayed and discarded, and contacts an old colleague, Susan. Susan arranges a flight to Townsville and takes Annabelle with her on a cultural survey project. One of the people involved in the project is Bo
Cheyenne Blue
May 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheyenne by: Found on a shelf in the latest housesit
Shelves: australian
Unfortunately, after a really promising beginning, this book went downhill fast for me. I found it started to drag, and the slow moving descriptions of landscape that I'd so enjoyed in the first third of the book became somewhat repetitious.

And there there was the "x looked at y" issue. Miller uses this a lot. A LOT. Annabelle looked at Bo. Bo looked at Arner. Arner looked at Trace. And so on. Repeatedly. Two or three times a page on occasion. By the middle of the book I was heartily sick of rea
May 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think this would have been a much better story without the whole forced drama of the betrayed by her husband part. So many ridiculous parts to that reduced the story to borderline romance novel at times. I wanted to love the scenic descriptions more than I did. I feel like the author was probably doing a excellent job describing it but I could never form a good picture of it and had difficulty keeping directions straight. Still some of the information presented was interesting and thought prov ...more
Lesley Moseley
Update: I was getting so bored with current 'Dry Country Who/WHY dunnits', that I was grateful to lose myself in a masterwork. Wish there was a sequel; miss these very real-seeming characters.

Stunning writing that makes you feel you know the characters as well as the landscape.
This is not only one of my favourite books, but an important one.. Many Australians have not had much contact with Aboriginal People, and this is such a great introduction to a different culture, and a partly-shared histor
May 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm. Beautiful descriptions of Queensland Australia. Raises all the
significant social, political and even spiritual questions of a land
taken from the original people in a thoughtful way but the "fated
romance" remains contrived. Too bad as it diminishes the otherwise
complex issues the author tries to explore through its characters and their family histories.

Alex Miller has tried to explore the meaning of country and land in Australia. Time and belonging to land while precious to both the Aboriginal characters and the white Australians also separate them. An important issues which unfortunately does not ever develop beyond cliches. The connection between the two main characters is never believable.
Samm Menzies
Jul 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i loved "lovesong" so much and havent quite worked out why this isnt appealling as much to me.... will battle on though as it came highly recommended! ...more
Lys Ng
Oct 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The struggle to to read this book was extensive, the author was clearly focusing on the journey rather than the destination. I feel like it was just one big fat metaphor for our earthly existence.
Susan Austin
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book with its slow pace, good writing and interesting characters. Got a bit annoyed with the repetitive fawning/describing the mysterious Arner but that's a minor issue. ...more
Jane Bartlett
Mar 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very satisfying read
Geoff Wooldridge
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller was the winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 2003.

Set in 1995, Annabelle hastily abandons her husband, Steven, in Melbourne after she discovers he is having an extra-marital dalliance with one of his students. Annabelle flees to Townsville in Far North Queensland where she grew up and still has some family and friends.

She quickly becomes involved in an indigenous heritage survey for a proposed dam site, which would flood forever a vast area of Murri c
So eloquent. Miller’s understated prose is simply beautiful. I found this book so uplifting and relaxing as I was forced to step back and wait just like Annabelle in the book must learn to be patient and absorb the nuances of the situations and her relationships with her indigenous acquaintances who reveal more by their actions than their conversations.
Synopsis - Annabelle runs away from her marriage after her world is turned upside down by her husband’s betrayal. Her old friend Susan organises
Sharon Albanese
Feb 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t begin to describe how disappointing this book was. I have read 3 other Alex Miller novels and loved them all (Lovesong, Coal Creek and Conditions of Faith) . This one is uninvolving, but worse than that, it is actually irritating. I kept reading since it is quite an easy read, and the descriptions of countryside and various places visited were quite interesting. Some of the moments were quite gripping and Alex Miller has a lovely way of describing the atmosphere of a place. There were a ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 2018
The premise of this book, i.e. the husband's affair with a student that sparked Annabelle to head off north to where she was raised as a child, seems improbable. He is quickly forgotten in all that follows. Annabelle meets up with Bo, an aboriginal fellow she knew as a child but who was in the background at that time because they were in such different spheres. Clearly she loomed more highly in his recollection than he did in hers.
In the days and weeks where she meets up with up with him again
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I started to read this to escape from another book that was depressing me and I soon found myself immersed in Miller's simple but eloquent language. I read this when it was first published and remembered little about it except for its beautiful descriptions of Australian landscape (which I relished again) and its sensitive take on indigenous issues.

I liked it better the first time though. This time I had more trouble believing in the relationship between Annabelle (the academic, betrayed by her
Trudy Graham
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book won the Miles Franklin Literary Award in 2003. I read it for the first time around then, and reread it now for one of my book clubs. I enjoyed it both times, perhaps more with this second reading.

The landscape could be said to be a character in this book. Forty years ago, I travelled through the areas Alex Miller writes of and this book brought memories of the countryside back to me, especially the Sturt desert pea – a stunning flower and one with great significance to the text, and as
Craig McKeough
Slow moving, introspective story with lots of lovely evocative language. But it was just too slow moving to keep me absorbed and the repeated use of some words and phrases and references was downright jarring and annoying. For example, always referring to Bo's vehicle as 'the Pajero' rather than 4WD or ute or whatever. Arner's vehicle was invariably 'the truck'. Was Mitsubuishi paying for product placement? Bo was always 'sucking his teeth' and smoked about 50,000 cigarettes (Drum specifically!) ...more
Linda Steiger
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! My new favorite author. If not better than Autumn Laing. Wonderful writer, though as a non-Australian I needed images from Wikipedia to visualize all the plants named in the narrative. Had a bit of difficulty getting hold of this one: had to order my copy used from England. Well worth it though. A simply stunning road trip back through memory, the complicated relationships between European and Aborigine and the land they both inhabit. One rarely reads a male author who so well gets into the ...more
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Alex Miller is one of Australia's best-loved writers, and winner of the Melbourne Prize for Literature 2012.

Alex Miller is twice winner of Australia's premier literary prize, The Miles Franklin Literary Award, first in 1993 for The Ancestor Game and again in 2003 for Journey to the Stone Country. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, in 1993 for The Ancestor Game. His fi

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