Elizabeth at Swords for Fighting has given me the Honest Scrap award, which is an award that I have never received before!
The rules are share 10 things about yourself and then share the award with 10 other bloggers.
So here goes:
1. I am a sagittarian and have a sagittarius tattoo on my lower back;
2. I did debating in high school and was either 2nd or 3rd speaker;
3. When I am in the back seat of a car, I always sit on the left hand side;
4. I hate chewing gum, hate it;
5. I am addicted to eating caramello koalas;
6. I grew up in North Ryde and North Epping;
7. I support Sydney FC in the A-League and very much hope that they win the grand-final tonight;
8. I used to work for Ticketek and at the Sydney Opera House and have seen many free concerts and shows as a result, so now whenever I go into a venue I can't help but assess the seating arrangements;
9. I have 2 cars, one called The Beast and the other called Arj,
10. My left ear is pierced twice
That's a little trivia about me, and this is who I am passing on the award to:
1. Another Cookie Crumbles
2. Rose City Reader
3. 2010: The Year in Books
4. The Twilight Saga - Chapter by Chapter, Book by Book (one of the funniest blogs on the internet)
5. A Stiped Armchair
7. A Novel Source
8. The Blacksheep Dances
9. Mrs Q: Book Addict
10. Just One More Page
For links to these blogs, please see the blog roll on the right side of Page Turners.
APOLOGY - I know this is a day late everyone, but unfortunately my mother had an accident and I became a little distracted. Here it is now, albeit a day late.
ANNOUNCEMENT: New Meme - Book Beginnings on Friday. This is a new meme that I have decided to start entitled Book Beginnings on Friday. I hope that you all join in.
At this stage I do not have a button for this meme, being someone that is very technologically challenged. If there is anyone out there that wants to participate in this meme and has the skills to make a button, I would really appreciate it :-)
Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence.
The Spare Room by Helen Garner
"First, in my spare room, I swivelled the bed to a north-south axis."
This is an Australian novel that I have wanted to read for a very long time so I am very excited to finally be reading it.
Place a link to your Book Beginnings on Friday post in the Mr Linky below or alternatively leave a comment.
All readers have:
- the right not to read
- the right to skip pages
- the right not to finish
- the right to reread
- the right to read anything
- the right to escapism
- the right to read anywhere
- the right to browse
- the right to read out loud
- the right not to defend their tastes
I think this is wonderful - a reader's bill of rights. My particular favourites are:
- the right to skip pages - I can be a bit guilty of this, I am also guilty of skimming,
- the right to read anywhere - that's why I love my iphone, I can have a book wherever I go and I will read wherever I am because of it, sometimes it gets me into trouble for reading at inappropriate times or places but I can't help myself, and
- the right to read out loud - I love reading out loud and my boyfriend hates it, but every now and then he gives in lets me read to him, sometimes we compromise and I read the sports pages from the newspaper to him
This is going to be my new personal manifesto - it is going on the fridge where it belongs
I had long wanted to read a book by Kate Grenville. I had heard her speak at the Sydney Book Fair and also on various pod casts that I had downloaded and had always thought that she sounded so articulate and intelligent.
The book itself has won many awards and been shortlisted for others; Commonwealth Writers Prize 2006, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, Christina Stead Prize and Community Relations Award, Fellowship of Australian Writers' Christina Stead Award, Literary Fiction Book of the Year and Book of the Year, Australian Book Industry Awards 2006, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award 2006 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006.
My friends had also recommended her books to me so when I finally had the opportunity to purchase The Secret River, I jumped at the chance.
From the back cover: "William Thornhill is sentenced in 1806 to be transported to New South Wales, for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and children in tow, he arrives in a harsh land that feels, at first, like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a whisper, that freedom can be bought - an opportunity to start afresh." For William Thornhill, starting afresh means the purchasing of land along the Hawkesbury and fighting for it when the true owners of the land, the Aboriginals, assert their own ownership.
The feelings I had about this book encapsulate how I have been feeling about a few books recently. The story caught my attention and drew me into it to the point where I needed to keep reading, but somehow it still didn't quite meet up to my expectations. I have heard of The Secret River as becoming part of the Australian tradition of historical fiction; comparing it to books like The True History of the Kelly Gang and books by Thomas Keneally. With such high recommendations, great comparisons and so many awards, I was expecting something a little more dense, with a little more analysis of the social circumstances at the time of the 'colonisation' of Sydney, and in turn greater analysis of the colonisation as it affected the Aboriginal population. I know this is a novel, not a non-fiction book, but having heard Kate Grenville speak in such an intelligent and analytical way on so many interesting issues, I think I just expected something with greater depth.
The story had such potential to be an epic novel, but it fell just short of short of that. When I think about it, this book would have been better as even a short tighter story or else a longer more epic story (but then again, who am I to give advice!).
This all sounds very negative, but please don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book.
Aboriginals This book did tackle issues surrounding the 'colonisation' of Sydney from a different perspective from what I am used to. It explores the practical reality of the appropriation of Aboriginal land at the hands of the whites. This is really what the book is about, so I won't go into it too much because I don't want to spoil the story. I am glad that the book made me think about this from a more practical perspective than I have before, but I still think that it is in this aspect of the story that the book particularly fell down for me in some ways. It wasn't quite emotive or detailed enough to make me really feel what the characters would have been. I wanted to feel like I was there with them, but I couldn't.
Love and Family One of the things I did love was the relationship between William and Sal, and the growth of their family. It was so simple, not sappy like it could have been. They fell in love as children, married, were sent to Australia, raised a large and happy family and stayed true to each other through enormous hardship. Their love was real. Although the final events of the book had an impact upon their relationship it was done in such a realistic, true to life way I appreciated.
Sal and the longing for home I liked that no matter how hard their life had been, and no matter how difficult the challenges they faced making a life in Australia, Sal still pined for home, which was particularly palpable in the final scenes. Sal dealt with her circumstances with a determination and self possession that I only wish I had, and I think that her story is an important lesson in doing the best that you can with what you have.
William William is another issue altogether. I didn't feel for him in the way that I did for Sal, but I liked that despite everything he did, particularly in relation to the final events of the book, he was a good man trying to make the most of his situation for his family. His craving for land was undoubtedly selfish and some without regard for his wife's feelings, but I still believe that he thought he was doing the right thing for them. He reminded me of my legal clients in some ways. When forced into a situation from circumstances largely out of their control, people are often left with no choice but to turn to crime. It is an important message - good people can do bad things, but we all have to do the best we can and live with the consequences of our actions.
What kind of read is it?
It is an easy read, it's enjoyable and well written. Don't expect an epic tale though.
Do I recommend the book?
Despite some misgivings I still recommend reading it. It is by a wonderful Australian author and covers Aboriginal issues from a different perspective to what you would normally read.
Do I recommend that you buy it?
No. Borrow it from the library or a friend.
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
"The men in the trenches to the left and right of the hole fell back expecting an attack, but in a little while they realised that the Federals had rushed into the crater and then, amazed at what they had done, just huddled there, confused by that new landscape of pure force."
I think that this is an interesting way to describe the reality of war.
Sorry for the shameless advertising, but I also wanted to let people know about a new meme I am hosting called Book Beginnings on Friday, the aim of which is to share the first sentence of your current read with everyone. You can see Week 1's post here and Week 2's post here. Check it out this Friday.
A Blast From the Past is a meme for people to review a book that they read before they started blogging. It doesn't have to be a favourite, it might be that you didn't enjoy it. It is about sharing a book from your past with others.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
My boyfriend's sister gave this to me for Christmas 2008. I had heard of the Shifting Fog by Kate Morton and always wanted to read it, so I was very excited to have one of her books to read. It was a very easy read, nothing challenging, but also one that kept you interested to the end.
It is the story that traces a mysterious family history spanning 3 different generations. Cassandra's grandmother Nell passes away, leaving her an old English cottage. She visits the cottage and in the process begins to unravel the family secret, learned by her grandmother on her 21st birthday and going back even further to the mysterious Eliza Makepeace.
It was intriguing watching this family history slowly unravel. The characters are very real and as I read I wanted desperately to see them all happy.
My only complaint is that it was a bit predictable. I use 'mystery' loosely. Before the end I had already figured it out. Morton tried to give it a twist, she tries to set it up so that you think one thing, but then the truth is revealed. The problem is, I saw the truth first.
Other than that, a very enjoyable book I very much recommend.
Please join in by leaving a comment or leaving a link to your own Blast from the Past in the Mr Linky below.