City girl Elise is like a fish-out-of-water when she and husband Bill and daughters Marjorie and Ruby move from Melbourne to Bill's childhood home in the Mallee in Northern Victoria. Red sand, short stubby trees, no shade, a sunburnt land with no place for the glamorous and sophisticated Elise. As the reality of life in the Mallee bites and Elise becomes increasingly fragile, the family struggles to meet the challenges of outback life.
Evocative of time and place, this is a memorable and illuminating story of 1950s rural Australia.
Enjoyed by all.
This book touched everyone's heart. Such a well crafted story, beautifully written. The content of the book was bravely addressed and each character exquisitely described. All the personal trials of family life in such desolate conditions were addressed with understanding and compassion. It is the opinion of the group that perhaps a sequel will follow
We all "enjoyed" the book - if you can say that when it was very depressing! Beautiful writing and the descriptions put you there. We all remembered fancy dresses made from crepe paper. Mental illness is so sad.
Most readers enjoyed this very much.
After a slow start the book took on more energy and extended more into the characters etc. All in the group agreed it was a lovely read, and would recommend it. The author painted lovely pictures with words.
Some thought it was a little slow to start but overall a powerful book that moved us to tears. Some wanted a more definite ending - a happy ending with Marjorie and Jesse together. I think the ending was best left as it was.
Mixed reviews from our group. Some didn't finish it. Most of us felt the Mallee was over worked and didn't add to the story. The story itself is sad and the explorations of relationship, duties and mental illness were interesting.
We thought it was very well-written and thought provoking. Being a Rural group we had lots to discuss mainly about being accepted and fitting into a new area. Some of us felt completely out of our depth too as young brides. Our group really enjoyed this book.
Everyone really enjoyed this book - found it well written with believable characters and a great insight to outback life. Mental illness was well explored and explained with sensitivity. Definitely recommend.
We all thought this was an extraordinary book - on many levels. The descriptions of farming in the Mallee, and the effects of the area and its inhabitants on a creative woman. We realised that Elise was probably bi-polar, but the effect of this on her family was profound. The Mallee was treated as almost another character in the story, brilliantly told.
Enjoyed by all. Loved the personification of lots of inanimate objects. The Mallee was very much a part of the story. Loved the humour and the community spirit coming through at the end, and the way the family stuck together. We wanted something more definite at the end with the renewal of the relationship/romance with Jesse and Marjorie.
We all loved this book, lots of depth to the story. It showed how hard it is to fit into smaller communities if the likes of Elise's type of woman don't fit the so called norm required. It gave us insight into mental health issues and the treatments of that era.
Enjoyed by every member of our Reading Group. Excellent writing.
We look forward to her next book! Liked it very much.
Overall, a positive review. Poetic language. Realistic portrayal of mental illness and how it impacts family.
We all felt it was a wonderful book that covered many issues, and left us thinking about - mental illness, mistakes, self esteem, resilience, survival, adapting to different worlds, city cultured Elise moving to Malee, Marjorie's voice as a child wanting to love and be loved by her mother, Jesse and Marjorie's love story... Beautiful.
We had big talks about mental health in the 1950s and 60s, and as we are all in our 70s - could relate to the stigma and expectations of our culture then.
Beautifully captures outback Australia. Most characters well drawn. Writing at times a bit floral. Title a bit misleading. Readers really enjoyed the book.
Only about half of us read this book as a busy time of year with school holidays. Those that did read it did appreciate the story, but some found it to be a very tense read, and very close to home for those that have dealt with mental illness in close family. We would have preferred a more definitive happy ending.
The group enjoyed the book. It is rather an intense read in parts, with the dry, inhospitable setting almost making up another character in this family drama.