Booklovers Melbourne's Reviews > Elianne

Elianne by Judy Nunn
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U 50x66
's review
Mar 25, 2014

it was amazing

Judy Nunn's knack and skill in bringing the history of Australia and its cities back to life, in full technicolour, is uncanny. In Elianne, it is the turn of Bundaberg.

This is a sweeping saga of the Durham family, from the 1880s era of blackbirding right through to the 'free love' and Vietnam War 1960s. Elianne is the young French wife of British Australian soldier Big Jim. To show his love for his wife, Jim builds a grand estate around his sugarcane plantation and mill in Bundaberg and names it "Elianne".

Elianne traces the relationship between White Durhams and their Kanaka (native Islander) labour as the laws of the land change, make the practice illegal and deport most of the Islander labour from Australia in the early 1900s even as the "White Australia Policy" started with the Immigration Restriction Act of 1901. Fast forward to the 1950s and 60s, Elianne's great grand children are now adults and have caught on to the catchphrase of the decade: Freedom. Freedom to love, to rock 'n' roll, to go on the Pill, to fight for their own rights... Australia vows to go 'All the way with LBJ' in the Vietnam War.. Indigenous rights become an important issue for the Australian young, including protagonist Kate. Cars and roads become more commonplace and Elianne's employees start moving into the city rather than live on the estate. Mechanisation changes the character of the sugar mill. Change is the constant here, in Elianne and in Australian life through these decades. Not all members of the Durham family and their employees deal with change well, especially as dark and distant secrets start to surface.

An absolutely amazing book, that has given me a terrible case of "book hangover" once I've finished it. Judy Nunn at her best here.

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Reading Progress

March 25, 2014 – Shelved
Started Reading
March 30, 2014 – Finished Reading

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