A thoroughly researched portrayal of the last execution in Iceland. Kent’s words gnaw like the bitter wind through to my bones. The abject poverty, the grisly warts of humanity almost primitive, don’t go unseen. I smell fish and smoking oil, my hands ache with the cold as I follow the trail of her prose. She shapes her words like whalebone, sharp and ivory white. The wonder of them only equal to the horror of the cruelty of a life lived and lost. I have been there with Agnes to the last and can thank God that I have been but an onlooking ghost.
Womersley is like a Parisian cook. He brushes the pastry of seventeenth century France with colour, flair and fragrance. He uses words like flavours so I can almost smell garlic on the breaths of gallic troubadours. He throws in herbs, casting a spell, luring me with latin.
I run to catch up with them, daring to make their world mine, if only from a safe distance. For plague and pestilence aren’t just physical maladies, and a soul is easily won. They are all an unsavoury lot.
I had hoped for a cure more palatable than the one he presented, a conclusion more enjoyable. I couldn’t help but turn my nose up at the turn of events. Shy away at a crust he could have kneaded more satisfactorily.
Throughout, he convinces us that magic is nothing but a clumsy show, so that I was hard pressed to swallow the ending. For although the scent of thyme and the sound of pigeons took me to a wondrously alive place and held me captive, the characters on Womersley’s stage were pallid and flavourless in comparison. He has thrown them into the mix without first salting their characters. I wasn’t able to savour their emotions. Perhaps he forgot to season the heartstrings because he was too busy bringing the streets to life?
With a turn of phrase as harsh as the Tasmanian elements, Rachel Leary uses words sparsely. She tears meat from sinew, leaving her sentences like bare bones, at once confronting, daringly sharp.
From the beginning I followed in Bridget’s direction, following, always following, only to find at story’s end, that I was left with a rather melancholy anti-climax. There was no purpose, no plot, just a monotonous journey through unforgiving wet scrub, like rain with no respite
There is a madness that comes from hunger, both spiritual as well as physical. In this respect, Leary portrays the angst well. She ekes out the ugly in humanity, coarse as rough rum.
In some respects I came to the conclusion with relief. But it was not like I had finally been given a good meal. On the contrary, the author sent me to bed hungry, and I closed the book on the last page without repletion.
I would have had Bridget suck the marrow out of life, but the forces of nature and the wilderness, held Bridget Crack every bit as captive as the constabulary she feared.
I feel emotionally numb. It’s as though greyness has overcome me, as though my perception has been upended. I am left wondering how to start to explain this book. I wasn’t emotionally attached to this story. I didn’t cry or grieve when it was done. It did, however make me think.
I considered the power society can have on belief. But what stands out, the one thing that gave me hope in this read, was love. That we are saved by love alone. That without it we are colourless, without meaning or purpose. This is perhaps the glimmering light that we should take as a reminder for our future.
It’s debatable that a child will glean as much as can be got from this kind of read. My thirteen year old daughter Cordelia read it first then suggested it to me. But then she is no ordinary thirteen. Yet if we feed them on bread and milk, they may struggle all their lives to chew on meat. The concept of Jonas’s world is frightening enough that to shrug it off without thought is perhaps childishness itself.
Usually I will sit with the memory of a book in my mind long enough to have it settle. I let it linger on the tastebuds of my heart like wine as I clarify my emotions. With this book, I know the aftertaste will linger with me for some time to come. Its characters will stay in the eddy of my memories, the sediment almost as real as the earth at my feet.
A ponderous beginning it was, but as a life unfurls at no great speed, the story of Isabel and Tom is no different. We made acquaintance slowly. I waded into the pages wondering when if at all I would feel their voices. Yet there with Isabel and Tom, the pull of the lighthouse draws me in.
Sometimes a story will coat the glass of your soul like elixir. The salt tears M. L .Steadman wrung from my heart took me unawares. When I look at a lighthouse I will smile at the poignant memory of Isabel and Tom. For fiction is never just make believe. Their story could easily be anyone’s. Given a glimpse at their tale, I am grateful that in those pages, I also made the story mine.
A poignant glimpse into the teen years, Catriona McKeown gives an understanding of what it’s like to be at school all over again. A story that brings insight and inspiration to the young, and takes everyone else down memory lane to back in the day. Never thought returning to school could bring such sweet reminiscence. With realism enough to remind the reader of what it’s like to be a teenager, and the grace to show the beauty of those years. Enjoyable from start to finish.
This book makes an appealing gift for those who enjoy an historical romantic escape. An anthology is a great way to read works from a variety of different authors, and since I enjoy historical fiction, I was thankful to receive a copy gifted by one of the authors of ‘The Captive Brides’.
The standout story for me was by Lucy Thompson. Her wit adds sour to sweet. She snatches the title of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and gilds her tale as an icon before we ever start the story. This is bold, but she pulls it off with a humour unashamedly Australian.
This collection is a light hearted glimpse into another era, albeit a mostly unrealistic one. A modern tolerant ethos woven into a time far more heartless makes for a feel good read but doesn’t ring true for that period. Faithful adherence to the everyday foods, literacy standards and social mores would have made this stick to my ribs.
Thank you very to Australian author Amanda deed for her words on ‘Folly’. Amanda is the author of numerous books, including her newest novel, ‘Unnoticed’.
From the Back Cover
It is 1822. The colony bells of Newcastle chime for a wedding but Emma Colchester is uneasy. Her cousin is nowhere to be found. A red satin ribon unearths the truth, and the family face their worst fears. Fingers of blame are pointed too close to home and Emma’s future with Tobias threatens to unravel. The walls of The Folly standing by The Hunter River hold the clue, and Emma risks everything in finding out the truth.
Since reading D.J. Blackmore’s debut novel, Charter to Redemption, three years ago, I have been looking forward to this second instalment, which continues the story of Tobias and Emma and their search for the truth. Who is really buried out at The Folly? Is it truly Gideon Quinn? Tobias and Emma can’t rest until these questions and more are answered.
As a lover of Australian historical…
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