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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 3 star ratings
3 reviews
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4.7 out of 5
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    Poetic and uplifting.

    Beautiful story of friendship and hope set in Australia after WW1. Highly reccommended.
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    Fruit Co-Operative

    This is such a charming and heart warming story that it took me completely by surprise. I wasn't really sure what to expect from it before I started reading but what I didn't expect was to be so completely swept away in it all and left with such a hopeful feeling when it finished; finished all too soon it must be said, I could have happily spent another 2 or 3 hundred pages with this cast. Set after the end of World War I and with the Australian Forces now repatriated it follows their struggles to move back to a normal existence. This book taught me such a lot about Australian History from this time period - the setting up of "reservations" for the Aboriginal People, the land act that meant their land was sold off in parcels to returning white men who had served. All things I had no real prior knowledge of and now intend to research in to more fully. In fact, the book deals with some real, and extreme, atrocities perpetrated on the indiginous peoples at this time - children being stolen from their parents, Aboriginal men who had served being declared dead so their dependants didn't get their pay which then "disappeared". It also deals with Shell Shock, or as we know it now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have some knowledge of it's treatment (or lack thereof) during the Second world War as a former boss suffered from it at the time and it was still impacting his life in the early 1990's - but at least he could talk about it which he confessed provided some relief. The main story centres around Jack Bell; an Aboriginal man who comes from the small town of Sunshine and served in the Light Horse during the conflict. Now he finds himself without a home and on the run as the Government have decided that any Aboriginal person not living under their control on a reservation is dangerous. Despite this he is determined to camp on his land, fish in the same river he always fished in and just keep himself to himself. As his story unfolds you realise that he has lost so much during the war but he somehow manages to ward off bitterness and hatred. He has Anger but directed in the right way at the right people. Snow McGlynn went to war with his three friends but only two of them made it back. Lucky enough to receive a parcel of land that is fertile he plans carefully to begin a new life as a citrus farmer. He was perhaps a loner by nature before the war but the things he saw in the trenches have definitely changed him for the worse. Despite his ascerbic nature there is such empathy on the page for his situation that even though he doesn't complain you find yourself wanting him to succeed in business and in life. Grace Lovelee was a frontline nurse during the conflict and English by birth. Meeting Art Lovelee during his hospitalisation and nursing him through the early stages of Shell Shock they fall in love, marry and move to his home country of Australia. They too manage to purchase some land in Sunshine and Art hopes to begin a fruit nursery there. Grace's descriptions of how the trauma Art suffered still effects him are vivid and even humorous - giving them names such as Dancing Dawg and Naughty Boy - but still managing to evoke the true devastation war wrought in men's psyches. Despite all this gloom the story itself is rather joyous with trials and tribulations offset by moments of simple friendship as the three disparate people move closer together, recognising kindred spirits who understand, without words, just what they have all been through. As I said earlier the tale itself is full of hope - hope for love, for friendship, for family and for happiness. I could easily have given this a 5 Star review. However, the end of the story feels very rushed and a handful of years are dispatched in as many pages, so rather than being able to savour the triumphs of the Sunshine Fruit Co-Operative and follow Jack's progress to Brewarinna it is glossed over in a few paragraphs. Still a beautiful tale and one I highly recommend. THIS IS AN HONEST AND UNBIASED REVIEW OF A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK RECEIVED VIA THE PIGEONHOLE.
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    Life in the Outback

    A lovely read full of imagery and insight that showed me just how similar Australians and Canadians are (apart from some interesting differences in dialect).
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