My May #6 Degrees Challenge
Hosted by Kate from Books Are My Favourite And Best The idea is to start at the same book as other readers, then find themes that link six books, and see where you end up!
The starting point for May is The Dry by Jane Harper.
The Dry is a crime thriller set in Australia.
Aaron Falk, a federal police officer, arrives in Kiewarra, a drought stricken rural town, for the funeral of his school friend. It has been twenty years since Aaron left. The heat is oppressive, the land dry as tinder and the people are angry about the effects of the drought on their lives.
This book has been on my TBR list for a while, so I was pleased to move it up to the top in readiness for this month’s challenge. What drew me in to the story most, was the vast dry land and how it moulded the lives of those who tried to survive in it.
It made me think about this next book, one I’ve yet to read but it has come highly recommended. My link is small-town life.
The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat. Set in 1970s small-town Australia it centres on Tanya – an unhappy child, overweight, bullied at school and trying to cope with her mother who has been devastated by a series of miscarriages. Her father loves her, but he doesn’t cope either, seeking solace far too often in the local pub, and her grandmother, Nanna Purvis, is a hard woman, although her kindness shines through as the novel progresses.
Tanya’s life gets better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.
Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web.
Family secrets keep my books linked as we move on with my next choice and one I’m sure you’ve all heard of.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. A saga spanning three generations of a family who survive in the harsh Australian outback. Mixed with it are the loves and losses of many of the characters, including a long and forbidden love for a beautiful Catholic priest.
If you can recall the story, there is a part of it that takes place in Queensland’s sugar cane plantations, and I thought about that when I chose my next book.
My third link is to the sugar cane industry.
Sweet Bitter Cane by G. S. Johnston. This is an historical family saga.
The story begins in Italy during 1920. Amelia is getting married but her brother stands in as proxy, because Amelia’s husband lives in Australia. Wishing to escape from the limitations of village life, Amelia agrees to set sail for Queensland as a mail order wife. Upon her arrival in Brisbane, Amelia is disappointed when Italo, her new husband, is not there to meet her. This is her first experience of being second-place to the mighty sugar cane crop. The author paints a great picture of the landscape and the hardships of the times. I thought the characters were well-written with a depth which made them believable.
The story was a memorable one, once more showing man’s fight for survival, in a land which still draws new comers. This brings me to my next book.
For my fourth book I chose emigration and The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett.
The Tides Between is a young adult historical fiction novel. Set in 1841 it is about Bridie and her family who are emigrating to Australia from London. The story takes place on The Lady Sophia, a ship bound for Port Phillip near Melbourne. Fifteen year old Bridie, her pregnant mother and her step-father travel in steerage (low cost travel for the poor), where they meet others looking forward to a new life down under.
Bridie’s father died less than a year ago; her family believe Australia will offer new opportunities for employment and a better life than the one they lived in London. But Bridie is frightened and sad about how easily they can leave the memories of their old life behind. Others on the boat are also hoping to escape the past; Welsh couple Rhys and Sian have their own secrets. Natural storytellers, they offer Bridie friendship and understand the stories her father once shared.
It was a book full of hope with brave people heading to the unknown. Which brings me to my next choice, a book with more of a recent setting, but still in Australia.
My fifth book has three more travellers heading to Australia. Red Dirt by E.M. Reapy.
Red Dirt is the tale of three young travellers who have gone to Australia to escape the Irish recession. They are full of hope, wanting to experience a better life, but reality throws obstacles in their way. Plus they face temptations and events which cause acts of desperation.
That desperation follows some of the characters found between the pages of my last book. Men, women and children sent to Australia as punishment for crimes they had committed.
My final book is Convicts in the Colonies: Transportation Tales from Britain to Australia by Lucy Williams.
A non-fiction book, it covers the eighty year period from 1787 to 1868 when 168 000 convicts from Britain and Ireland were sent to Australia. This is a collection of tales about those transported; their reasons for transportation, their journeys and whether they died, survived or thrived in the harsh environment.
If you would like to take part, the starter book for June (Posting June 1st) is Murmur by Will Eaves