Book Reviews Harp in the South & The Life to Come & My Family and Other Animals

Our MJ Readers book club recently read, ‘The Harp in the South‘ by Ruth Park & ‘My Family and Other Animals‘ by Gerald Durrell. Another one of our clubs the Dundas Readers read ‘The Life to Come‘ by Michelle de Kretser. One group loved their book while the other one not so much. Read what our groups thought about their books below!

The Harp in the South by Ruth Park

We all enjoyed revisiting this novel and it lead to interesting conversations especially when considering all the impacts that 2020 has brought to our lives. We reflected on the sense of community and how people came together to provide support and comfort despite the differences in religion, race and class and we appreciated how contentment was found in

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small things. These are things we have experienced again this year.

The topics of political correctness, religion and access to education were also at the forefront of our discussion. We felt the portrayal of certain characters would be seen as politically inappropriate now and that the role of religion as ‘the opiate of the masses’ has probably been replaced by peoples’ obsession with social media and technology. We also felt that access to education as we have now was something that could have given some of the characters more of a ‘voice’ and changed how they coped with their situations. We recommend this thought provoking and entertaining novel.

Read by the MJ Readers


The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser

‘The life to come’ is a ramble of short stories about relationships that are vaguely linked and most of us did not enjoy reading it. The characters were self indulgent, depressing and

shallow. This is not a book we would recommend.

Read by Dundas Readers

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

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We all found ‘My Family and Other Animals’ an interesting and entertaining read. We were captivated by the descriptive language. Every creature, season and landscape were so vividly described that they came alive in your imagination. The characterisations were equally well written and, whether you liked the character or not, you could appreciate them.

The place and time reflected a trusting world with less restrictions and the main character had an endearing, fresh faced enthusiasm and a joy of learning and discovery. We particularly enjoyed the quote, “I said I enjoyed being half educated; you were so much more surprised at everything when you were ignorant.” We are happy to recommend this novel.

Read by the MJ Readers