Book Club Book Reviews August 2021

Napoleon’s Last Island by Thomas Keneally

Summary

In October 1815, after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte was sent to live the remainder of his life in exile on the remote Southern Atlantic island of St. Helena. There, on what he called “the cursed rock,” with no chance of escape, he found an unexpected ally: a spirited British teenager named Betsy Balcombe who lived on the island with her family. While Napoleon waited for his own accommodations to be made livable, the Balcombe family played host to the infamous exile, a decision that would have far-reaching consequences for them all.

Comments

We generally did not enjoy this book although most of us researched the characters after finishing it. We were not engaged with the story and felt that modern ideas and opinions were to too prominent in the narrative. We would have been more interested in reading about the central characters’ life in NSW as a result of their time and experiences on the island.

Read by MJ Readers

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Summary

For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Comments

Starting in the 1950s, set in North Carolina, Where the Crawdads Sing follows the story of Kya, who grows up alone after being abandoned by her family.  She learns her life lessons from the wildlife around her.  Learning how to hide from the truant officer and hunting skills to catch food.

We absolutely, unanimously loved this book!  Loved, loved, LOVED IT!  Beautifully written; we felt like we were in the shack, or hiding in the marshes, or on the boat exploring the water ways of the swamp.  We enjoyed the way the story alternated between Kya’s childhood and, her present day.  This book kept us guessing to the very end.  To an ending none of us picked and loved all the same.   We loved Kya, her quiet strength and determination.  And the wonderful characters that surrounded her (Jumpin & Mabel) and the relationships she had with all of them.  Even the not so likeable ones. They were real, and people we could relate to.  The book covered a whole range of issues, loss and abandonment, racial prejudice, social injustice, and love.  We cannot recommend this book enough.

Read by Cultcha Club – Rating 9.5/10

Book Club Reviews Dundas Book Clubs

A Fortunate Life by A.B. Facey

A great book club choice. Albert Facey’s life spans most of the twentieth century and his memoir written in later life for his children and grandchildren has justly become an Australian classic. From his infancy in the Eastern states to his early childhood in Kalgoorlie and in many small towns in country Western Australia, we follow the gruelling and heart rending story of his early childhood. Abandoned by his mother as a toddler, his wonderful Grandma is his anchor. He is reunited with his mother and family as a teenager and takes a range of challenging jobs until the outbreak of the first world war. He fights in the hellish conditions at Gallipoli where he received wounds which stayed with him throughout his long life. Despite these hardships, he remains optimistic and hard working and meets and marries his soul mate Evelyn. They have six children. Simply written by a man who had no formal schooling, this is a valuable historic document as well as a touching and wonderful read.

9/10

Read by Dundas Readers

The Bush by Don Watson

Although we all felt that this book was well written, the topic did not capture us and most of our members did not finish reading it. The author was obviously very passionate about his topic but we found much of it depressing and repetitive. What we did take away from our discussion was that in the early days of settlement of the land people were fighting against the environment to survive whereas now we are fighting for the environment to survive. We can learn from the past, recognise mistakes and good intentions and make better choices.

Read by MJ Readers

Book Club Reviews

Our Dundas Book Clubs have been very busy reading and reviewing their book club picks over the last month.

Read what they thought about, ‘The Woman in the Window’, ‘Any Ordinary Day’ and ‘The Alice Network’. All of which have been hugely popular reads with a lot of our clubs.

Enjoy!

Jody

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