Saturday, September 6, 2014

"When the night comes" by Favel Parrett

I read "When the night comes" by Favel Parrett as part of the Aussie Author Challenge. It is set in Hobart, Tasmania and also Antarctica during the 1980s, and features the 'great little ship' "Nella Dan". The "Nella Dan" is a real ship, one of four ships leased from a Danish shipping line and used by the Australian government during the 1950-1980s for various Antarctic trips. The story is mostly fictional, but with enough accurate details thrown in to make it realistic and believable. 

It is hard to know how to describe this book and do it justice. It doesn't really have an in-depth story line, and mostly the characters are not fully fleshed out, yet this book really captured me on an emotional level. The chapters are mostly quite short, sometimes only 1-2 pages long, and are mostly told from the perspective of 2 main characters - Isla - a young lonely girl (primary school age I think) living in Hobart with her mother and her even younger brother, or Bo, a Danish sailor on board the "Nella Dan" who visits Hobart multiple times on route to Macquarie Island and the Australian Antarctic bases and befriends Isla and her family. The book doesn't really have a storyline in the usual way, but almost seems to be vignettes of powerful moments in Isla and Bo's lives, that when collected together build up a story. It is mostly very sad and raw, and I felt quite emotional reading parts of it, maybe this was partially due to many chapters being written in either a very down to earth (Bo) or alternatively a childlike voice (Isla), somehow at odds with the events being described. I don't know why I liked or was so emotionally affected by this book and I ended up with lots of unanswered questions, but I do recommend it. 

"When the night comes" is the second book by the Australian author Favel Parrett (her first book was "Past the shallows"). I haven't read her first book, but I have added it to my 'to read' list as I am impressed with "When the night comes".   

Started reading: 31st August 2014 

Finished: 10th September 2014
My score: 8/10
Aussie Author Challenge stats: Female author, new to me, first published in 2014, genre: unknown. the back cover suggests it is 'Wintonesque' after Tim Winton, another Australian author.

"Gifts of the Peramangk" by Dean Mayes

I read "Gifts of the Peramangk" by Dean Mayes as part of the Aussie Author Challenge.It was recommended to me by a friend (Paula) who often suggests good books to me. She told me 'to do yourself a favour and read this book'. She was not wrong. This is a 10/10 book for me. It is set mostly in Adelaide, South Australia, where I am currently living, as so all the little details about locations, such as the Elder Hall on North Terrace and the environment here really connected with me.

The story is a mix of tragedy and heartwarming moments and achievements in the face of adversity. The story is split between two main narrators: Virginia - a young girl who is part of the 'Stolen' generation - taken from her mother without consent during the notorious White Australia Policy, - and her granddaughter Ruby. 

Virginia's life is mostly hell, in an orphanage and then as basically a slave on an outback property. The only bit of joy really in her life is when the wife of the brutal property manager secretly teaches her to play the violin a few hours per week when he is absent. Virginia obviously has a huge musical talent, but as events unfold in her tragic life she doesn't have the opportunity to follow up on her dreams and musical talent. Then enter Ruby, who discovers her grandmother's old violin and also has a gift for playing it. While also surrounded by contemporary issues of being disadvantaged, discriminated against, living in poverty and being caught up in domestic violence and crime, Ruby (with the encouragement of her grandmother) follows her musical dreams. While many dark and unhappy themes and events happen throughout the book, it is in the end uplifting and beautiful.

Started reading: 21st August 2014
Finished: 28th August 2014
My score: 10/10