Book Review: The White Earth by Andrew McGahan

Summary

After his father’s death, young William is cast upon the charity of an unknown great-uncle, John McIvor. The old man was brought up, expecting to marry the heiress to Kuran Station—a grand estate in the Australian Outback—only to be disappointed by his rejection and the selling off of the land. He has devoted his life to putting the estate back together, and has moved into the once-elegant mansion.

McIvor tries to imbue William with his obsession, but his hold on the land is threatened by laws entitling the Aborigines to reclaim sacred sites. William’s mother desperately wants her son to become John McIvor’s heir, but no one realizes that William is ill and his condition is worsening.

Issues covered are Native Title legislation, the Mabo decison and Australian politics.

My Thoughts

When I first began to read this book, I had no idea what it was about. I wasn’t far into it when I realised this was the perfect book for me to read, in the week of Australia Day.

The setting is the Darling Downs in Queensland, spanning a time frame of 150 years. I really enjoyed the sense of place and landscape that this novel evoked. I loved it’s Australian-ness.

The publicity material describes this book as ‘part family saga, part history and part gothic thriller’. I agree with that completely. I do love a family saga and a historical novel, but the mention of gothic really had me intrigued. I’m not really interested in gothic or ghost stories, but I found the story to be entirely believable.

There is so much to this novel, including multiple themes but I would prefer to say less rather than more for fear of spoiling the reading experience for someone who picks up this book.

William was a lovely, beautiful, innocent young boy, but he was surrounded by very unattractive and flawed characters. This gave a dark and sinister feeling to the story. The characterisations by the author, I felt were brilliant.

I listened to this as an audio book. It didn’t lose any of the tension of gothicness in that form at all. The narrator, Edwin Hodgeman, an actor of many decades, was able to portray the darkness of certain characters and events in the story.

Recommendations

Winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 2005.
Winner of The Age Book of the Year Award in 2004

“…..The White Earth has all the trappings of a classic supernatural tale, and McGahan seamlessly blends the factual elements with the preernatural dimensions – the ghosts of black and white that haunt the landscape”  – The Age

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Andrew McGahan, was an Australian novelist, born 1966, in Queensland, Australia. He passed away in 2019 at age 52. He is  best known for his first novel Praise, and for his Miles Franklin Award-winning novel The White Earth. His novel Praise is considered to be part of the Australian literary genre of grunge lit.

This review is linked to lovelyaudiobooks.info
#2020 AussieAuthorChallenge

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#A-ZChallenge P: Places We Swim By Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Summary

 From lap pools to ocean pools to hot springs. Places We Swim covers the breadth of Australia, bringing you the sixty best places to swim, dive, jump, paddle and float, around the country. You’ll discover just what makes each swimming spot unique, learn the best time to go, gain some useful local knowledge and find out the best things to see and do in the area.

With destinations ranging from the neighbourhood city pool to remote outback waterfalls , this book is a celebration of not just these magnificent swimming spots, but of the diverse landscapes and communities that make up Australia.

The chapters are divided by the States of Australia, with each state claiming very diverse types of swimming pools. The photographs invoke the typical ideas of summer in Australia.

The two page foreword is written by Benjamin Law. Here is just one paragraph:
“And every body of water in this country has a compelling story behind it. Australian swimming spots tell this country’s social and political history” – Benjamin Law, author, journalist, radio host and TV personality.

My Thoughts

This is an amazingly beautiful coffee table book. Before reading it, I couldn’t resist the temptation of flipping through the stunning photos. Immediately they  brought back memories of long, hot summers when I was a child. On the weekends my grandparents would take us to different neighbouring towns to swim at their local pool. I have very happy memories of all those pools we visited. Some were formal swimming pools and others were designated areas in rivers.  

I loved the Top Five lists that were included:
Beaches

Nudie Swims
Best for relaxing with a cold beer
Best Waterfalls

Places We Swim is a stunning photo book, including essays about the relationship between Australians and bodies of water. As I read Places We Swim, I found myself day dreaming of leaving my day job and wandering off to explore this beautiful country and it’s swimming pools.

My Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the authors

Caroline Clements is writer, editor and creative producer originally from Melbourne.
New Mexican by birth, Australian by choice, Dillon Seitchik-Reardon is a photographer, writer, and videographer.

      Published by Hardie Grant Travel in 2018.
Large, softcover book – 192 pages, including index

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Images: Goodreads