Marianne's Reviews > Taking Tom Murray Home [Bolinda]

Taking Tom Murray Home [Bolinda] by Tim Slee
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it was amazing
bookshelves: wishlist

Taking Tom Murray Home is the debut novel by prize-winning Australian author, Tim Slee. Dairy farmer, Tom Murray had reached the end of his tether. The supermarkets had screwed down the price of milk so much that, despite all their hard work, the farm he ran with Dawn, Lazy Bones Dairy had become unviable. The bank wanted to take the house. Tom wasn’t going to allow that. They cleared out their belongings and, Dawn and the kids safely away, Tom set the place on fire.

But things didn’t quite go to plan: Tom didn’t make it out. Now Dawn is a widow and the twins, Jack and Jenny are fatherless. And they’re homeless. But Yardley being the typical Victorian country town, everyone pitches in to help. And, prompted by farmer/footie coach, Don Aloisi, Dawn decides that Tom’s death will not be in vain.

Dawn feels Tom should be buried in Carlton, where he was from, but the funeral procession will be a statement: something that will give Maximum Exposure to the plight of dairy farmers. John Garrett offers his Clydesdale, Danny Boy, and his milk cart for transporting the coffin in a funeral procession that rapidly becomes a days-long convoy. Townspeople tag along; coverage on social media, and later by mainstream media, ensures that people along the route cheer them on.

But as they travel, it seems someone is taking Direct Action: banks and supermarkets in the towns they travel through are being fire-bombed. Geraldine from the Geelong Advertiser smells a good story and the core group is wary, but she is welcomed when she reveals her father and brother are dairy farmers. From Portland, Karsi (Senior Sergeant Hussein Karsioglu) tries to maintain a balance between keeping order and helping the cause.

Jack tries in earnest to convince Karsi that his father had been murdered by the bank man, while Jenny is not even convinced her father is dead. But as they proceed, Jack’s conversations with accompanying townsfolk lead him to a quite different theory about what has been happening. Jenny, meanwhile, busies herself with a Go Fund Me page for funeral costs.

What a charming tale Slee gives the reader. The townspeople are a little quirky yet entirely believable, familiar in any country town, full of care and support for each other. Jack and Jenny have a special place in the hearts of the community, with their strange, shared condition, Dorotea’s Analgesia. The dialogue is a delight, and many of the characters offer wise words as well as dry humour. It’s difficult not to chuckle and even laugh out loud at their antics.

There’s very much a Jasper Jones/Craig Silvey feel to Jack’s account; his voice is genuine and guileless. The Bolinda audio version is brilliantly read by Stig Wemyss, who bestows on this tale the same wonderful expressiveness and vocal quality that he gives his narration of Boy Swallows Universe; his voice is an absolute pleasure to listen to. Funny, topical and moving, this is a truly entertaining read.
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Reading Progress

September 4, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
September 4, 2019 – Shelved
September 4, 2019 – Shelved as: wishlist
April 24, 2020 – Started Reading
April 24, 2020 –
April 24, 2020 –
April 25, 2020 –
April 26, 2020 –
April 27, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Carolyn Wonderful review Marianne. The novel had such a lovely feel to it.

Marianne Thanks, Carolyn, yes it did, and the narrator in the audio version contributed no small part to that

message 3: by Gloria (new)

Gloria (Ms. G's Bookshelf) Great review Marianne glad you got to hear the audio version in the end :)

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