Book Review One Life My Mother’s Story by Kate Grenville

One Life: My Mother’s Story 

Kate Grenville

Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house: Goodbye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again!

When Kate Grenville’s mother died she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life, the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change. In many ways Nance’s story echoes that of many mothers and grandmothers, for whom the spectacular shifts of the twentieth century offered a path to new freedoms and choices. In other ways Nance was exceptional. In an era when women were expected to have no ambitions beyond the domestic, she ran successful businesses as a registered pharmacist, laid the bricks for the family home, and discovered her husband’s secret life as a revolutionary.

One Life is an act of great imaginative sympathy, a daughter’s intimate account of the patterns in her mother’s life. It is a deeply moving homage by one of Australia’s finest writers.

Comments

We enjoyed most of this story, but there was a lot of repetition about some aspects, such as her life as an apprentice at the shop, family issues, which boy to pursue and some of the politics.

We thought the writing style was a bit unsophisticated but think that Kate Grenville was trying to express things using her mother’s voice and expressions since it was her mother’s story.

The second half of the book dragged a bit and we couldn’t understand her reaction on finding out about her husband’s affair since she’d had one herself with their good friend.

It showed how hard it was for women in unhappy marriages to leave when they had children and no way of supporting themselves.

Overall, we thought it showed how far the role of women has come in the workforce. We had never considered the challenges faced around childcare in a time when there was nothing established outside family help. She certainly had courage setting up her businesses and helping to build the house. Nance was an impressive woman for her time.

Wishing readers happy summer reading, from the Dundas Readers.

Group Rating 7/10

2nd Tuesday Evening Book Group

This month the Group read Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville.

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Book Summary

Sarah Thornhill is the youngest child of William Thornhill, convict-turned-landowner on the Hawkesbury River. She grows up in the fine house her father is so proud of, a strong-willed young woman who’s certain where her future lies. She’s known Jack Langland since she was a child, and always loved him. But the past is waiting in ambush with its dark legacy. There’s a secret in Sarah’s family, a piece of the past kept hidden from the world and from her. A secret Jack can’t live with…

Group Comments

Most of the group enjoyed the book. Some thought that the characters ‘did not speak to them’.

Many, who had read ‘The Secret River’, did not find this book as good. The first book was well researched and well written.

Sarah Thornhill reminded one reader of Mary in ‘The Potato Factory’. But having read ‘Sarah Thornhill’ before ‘The Secret River’ this may have influenced her.

The book brought out the alienation, dispossession, prejudice and the lack of empathy towards indigenous people. The themes of guilt and regret and the family rifts that were caused well portrayed. Some understood that the evil of William Thornhill could not ever be forgiven by his son, Dick. Continue reading

Last Thursday Book Group

Book TitleThe Lieutenant by Kate Grenville

The Lieutenant

Book Summary

The Lieutenant is the profoundly moving tale of a young soldier’s arrival in Australia on the First Fleet and the extraordinary friendship he develops with the local Aboriginal people. Daniel Rooke, soldier and astronomer, arrives in NSW in 1788. He sets up his observatory away from the main camp to begin the scientific work that he hopes will make him famous. Aboriginal people soon start to visit his isolated promontory, and a child named Tagaran begins to teach him her language. A genuine friendship forms, and Rooke has almost forgotten he is a soldier when a man is fatally wounded in the fledgling colony. The lieutenant faces a decision that will define the course of his entire life.

Group Comments Continue reading

Ist Wednesday book group read Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville

Sarah Thornhill is the youngest child of William Thornhill, convict-turned-landowner on the Hawkesbury River. She grows up in the fine house her father is so proud of, a strong-willed young woman who’s certain where her future lies. She’s known Jack Langland since she was a child, and always loved him. But the past is waiting in ambush with its dark legacy. There’s a secret in Sarah’s family, a piece of the past kept hidden from the world and from her. A secret Jack can’t live with… (NovelList Plus) Continue reading