Book Review: A Life At the Edge of the World by Michelle Scott Tucker


In 1788, a young gentlewoman raised in the vicarage of an English village married a handsome, haughty and penniless army officer. In any Jane Austen novel that would be the end of the story, but for the real-life woman who would play an integral part in establishing Australia’s wool industry, it was just the beginning 

John Macarthur took credit for establishing the Australian wool industry and would feature on the two-dollar note, but it was practical Elizabeth who managed their holdings—while dealing with the results of John’s manias: duels, quarrels, court cases, a military coup, long absences overseas, grandiose construction projects and, finally, his descent into certified insanity.- goodreads

My Thoughts

As soon as I finished reading A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville, I knew that I must read A Life at the Edge of the World. I really wanted to get to know the real Elizabeth, after reading about Kate Grenville’s imagined version.

This is the true story of a strong woman, who was truly a farmer, and not just a farmer’s wife, in the days when women weren’t expected to do much more than socialise and entertain. The Macarthur farming enterprise into Merino Sheep would not have happened or been successful without Elizabeth at the helm. She did the work, but then stood back and allowed her husband to take the credit, without a complaint.

I thought Elizabeth’s life, although priveleged, to be very sad. Her husband was away in London often, and for long periods of time, while Elizabeth stayed home and managed the farm, while caring for a large family of children. Four of her children died, and her boys also spent time away from her, in London.

Michelle Scott Tucker, has captured Elizabeth Macarthur perfectly, due to her meticulous research. This is evident in the bibliography, the notes which contained a huge amount of detail, and the comprehensive index.

I learnt about John Macarthur at school, but knew nothing of his wife Elizabeth. I’m so pleased that I read this book to set that wrong right. Elizabeth Macarthur’s story should be taught in history lessons, along with the story of her husband. Elizabeth was as much a pioneer of the wool industry and of this country, as was her husband.

Quotes From The Book

“As her daughter’s health improved, Elizabeth turned her energies and focus to the farms. That is not to say, with John away, she hadn’t already been working. Apart from a handful of aristocrats, Elizabeth and the other women of her era never stopped working. They worked every day of their lives and worked extraordinarily hard. The so-called ‘farmer and his wife’ were, in reality, both farmers and then, as now, the wife’s labour inside and outside the home was crucial to the running of the farm and the economic wellbeing of the family. Elizabeth Macarthur was no exception. She was, at that time, again, merely one of a number of women who had sole responsibility for their families’ farms”. (p.208)

“Australian history has been, until recently, very much the history of white men working—as farmers, as soldiers, as miners, as explorers. Women and other outsiders were largely written out, as if they were merely peripheral to the real story. In the history of Australian farming, though, women very much were the real story. Elizabeth Macarthur is only one of many women who were—and are—crucial to the family farming enterprise. In her ambition, her fortitude and her love for her family she was just like many other strong and intelligent farm women”. (pp. 329-30)

 Star Rating: 4.5 stars


About the Author

Michelle Scott Tucker

Michelle is a writer, a mother, a company director, a feminist, a policeman’s wife, a gardener, a management consultant, a horsewoman and an indifferent cook. She lives on a small farm in regional Victoria.


Published in 2018 by Text Publishing.
Softcover, 385 pages, including bibliography, notes and index.

All books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library, unless otherwise stated.

Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads

Images and author information: Goodreads .

Aussie Author Challenge

You can find my other blogs here:
Next Phase In Fitness & Life
and Tracking Down The Family

© 2020 Copyright. all rights reserved:

Book Review: The White Earth by Andrew McGahan


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.


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
#2020 AussieAuthorChallenge

© 2019 Copyright. all rights reserved:







#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.


 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:

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

Have you read this book. If so I’d love to hear your thoughts. I promise to always reply to comments made in the section below.

If you would like to keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email into the box in the side bar. This will ensure you are notified of all updates.
Find me here: Facebook and Instagram.and Goodreads
#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary badge

This blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Bash Awards in the category of Best Book Review Blog. If you would like to vote for me click on the link below and scroll down to the Best Book Review Blog Section. You will find Best Bookish Blog there. I do appreciate you taking the time to vote.

Images: Goodreads