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Fortunate Life by Facey A.B.

Fortunate Life (original 1981; edition 1985)

by Facey A.B., Robert Juniper (Illustrator)

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6411915,089 (4.24)61
Title:Fortunate Life
Authors:Facey A.B.
Other authors:Robert Juniper (Illustrator)
Info:Penguin Books Australia (1985), Edition: Reset with afterword, Paperback, 348 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Fortunate Life by A. B. Facey (1981)

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Why did no-one ever shove this book in my face and tell me how brilliant it is???! Do yourself a favour and read it now! It will get you right from the start. An absolutely fascinating account of life in pioneer Australia from being a boy on the gold fields, a teen working for his keep to a young man enduring the horrors of WWI at Gallipoli and then to marriage and getting by during the depression of the 30's. This book will take you a journey through the hard but ultimately fortunate life of a man who will show you that with the best attitude your life is in your control.
So many times in his life things could have turned out differently or Mr Facey could have given up but this is just a wonderful life and told in a clear, unique and modest voice. ( )
  SashaM | Apr 20, 2016 |
This book captivated me. ( )
  Johanne | Sep 15, 2015 |
This is the autobiography of Western Australian Albert Facey. It is embellished throughout with maps, photos and illlustrations, all of which are fun or relevant in some way. It looks like a doorstop but reading went surprisingly fast, not only because it is so interesting but Facey is a captivating storyteller.

Born in 1894 he was brought up by his grandmother and out of necessity started work at aged eight. One of the most dramatic chapters describes the time he spend on a cattle drive. The events following a stampede caused Facey to become lost in the outback for days, an event that was almost fatal. Fortunately, he was rescued and cared for by Aboriginals.

He survived the atrocity of Gallipoli after suffering wounds that he speaks of matter of factly although they affected him all his life. It was only when I reached this section that I realized the details were familiar, and previously seen on a television production. In fact his life story inspired a television series and at least one book.

In the post-war years he was re-established in Western Australia only to lose everything in the Depression. Facey's life was as tough as a life can be, yet there is not one word of self-pity or complaint. He taught himself to read and write. This book, written in a down-to-earth style is all the more moving because of the plain, simple language. As an example, in only a few sentences he was able to create a vivid picture of the horror of a bayonet charge and of hand-to-hand fighting. It must have been particularly horrifying for this amiable guy who held no grudges against anyone.

A Fortunate Life was published when Albert Facey was 87 years old just months before he died. I have to wonder if he took the title from his unique bit of good fortune when he discovered the woman who would become his wife, Evelyn Mary Gibson, through a parcel of socks received in Gallipoli. This national celebrity is, in my opinion, an outstanding person and hero. Thanks to polaris for recommending this excellent book. ( )
2 vote VivienneR | Nov 16, 2014 |
The cover blurb promised "A true classic of Australian literature..." - which is thankfully not undeserved hyperbole at all. The author lived a life with many hardships - especially his poverty stricken remote rural childhood - but writes toward the end of his fascinating life with the perspective of one who is not remotely bitter, but full of wisdom, and grace.

Born in the 1890s, Facey's orphan childhood coincided with a period of expansive white settlement in the southwest of Western Australia. The area that much of his story takes place in would become the famous wheat belt of that part of Australia. Living at first with his beloved Grandma and an Uncle who took him and his many siblings in, his life was tough and the work was unrelenting from about the time he was big enough to hold a horse.

After being sent away to work and then suffering at the hands of cruel and exploitative owner-employers, young Bertie eventually emerges from his Outback apprenticeship as a modest and hard working young man with a great love of, and skill with, animals and nature. What he lacked in formal education he more than made up for with his knowledge of the land and the rhythm of the seasons and the way to build up a homestead out of almost nothing (which he ends up having to achieve on several occasions for a variety of reasons).


It's hard to single out specific episodes or chapters that I liked best, but there is a longer than average section on his experiences working on a cattle drive for the first time - aged about 15 - that particularly stood out for me. The drive lasts for months and journeys deep, deep into the desert bush before circling around in a wide arc back to the west coast cattle market at Geraldton. The drama and the excitement and the pure graft involved, as well as the stunning and stark beauty of the Western Australian deserts really come across most vividly. During the drive, there is a heavy storm which causes a stampede. In the confusion Bert is separated from the others and after a day or two of sheltering from the terrible weather, eventually becomes completely lost. With almost no food and little else, he becomes increasingly weaker and confused. An elderly aboriginal Australian picks up his trail and ultimately saves Bertie's life. It is evident from the way his tale is told that Facey never had any truck with racial prejudices, or any kind of injustice for that matter.


As the 20th century progresses Facey's young adulthood and coming of age inevitably culminate in the tragedy of the First World War. Leaving Perth with tens of thousands of his adventure-seeking compratiots, he is sent into the bloodbath of Gallipoli. Bert survived 4 months in the hellhole of the doomed Turkish beachhead. Two of his brothers, as well of course as many thousands of other brave ANZAC troops, sadly would not. He even survives being blown up, although his war wounds will blight him for the rest of his life in one way or another.

Returning home after the war, Bert can finally get on with his life and starts a family with his beloved wife in peace. Not without the further troubles that life has to throw at an uneducated war veteran, he manages to make his way in an ever-changing modern Australia as his family grows and his children eventually leave the home to have families of their own.

Despite the many hardships the author has to endure, A Fortunate Life was a wonderful book to read, and one that I really enjoyed. It is a great read for all ages and the ages. A. B. Facey's story really is a story of Australia and that great country's tough earlier pioneering generations. The humility that the author writes with is truly inspiring and this is indeed a genuine classic. ( )
3 vote Polaris- | Nov 9, 2014 |
I am a sucker for a well-told memoir, and I particularly love those by people I've never heard of. Well, I'd never heard of A.B. (Albert Barnett) Facey, but that's mostly because I don't live in Australia. Because in the past thirty-some years his memoir, A FORTUNATE LIFE, has taken on the status of a classic in that country. And here's another thing that intrigued me: having never gone to school, Facey was functionally illiterate until he was nearly twenty years old, and was over eighty when he began writing down his life story. I love it when old guys write their life stories, maybe because I was sixty when I wrote my first memoir.

Albert Facey's story of his life in frontier Western Australia was a fascinating, even mesmerizing one. Born into a large family in 1894, Facey's father died when he was only a few years old and his mother married again and left him (and other siblings) to be raised by his grandmother and an aunt and uncle. At eight he was literally "farmed out" to another family who abused and neglected him. Forced to do difficult farm labor and living in filth and rags, Facey learned early to be self-sufficient and to work his scrawny little butt off to survive. The family he'd been indentured to turned out to be one of criminals, cattle thieves and drunks. When he managed to escape that situation, Albert's subsequent jobs with other, kinder families, got gradually better, and by the time he was fourteen he was knowledgeable and tough enough to manage a farm by himself. He learned about wheat farming and working with all manner of stock - sheep, pigs, horses, poultry. As a teenager he was cook's helper driving over two thousand head of cattle for hundreds of miles to a railhead for sale. Along the way he became lost in the wilderness for a week following a stampede and would have starved had he not been found and rescued by friendly Aborigines. He drove spikes for a new railroad line for a time. He was also a professional pugilist with a traveling troupe of boxers, possessing a perfect left jab, and he never lost a fight.

In 1914 he volunteered for the army and was badly wounded at the infamous battle of Gallipoli, and was invalided out of the service with a disability pension. Shortly thereafter he married his wife, Evelyn - a marriage that produced several children and lasted fifty-nine years, until his wife's death in 1976. During that time Facey worked numerous jobs despite his war injuries, which often periodically landed him back in hospital, and endured the hardships of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Three of his sons enlisted in the army for service in WWII, and one of them was killed.

And hey, I'm not really giving anything away here. I'm only skimming the surface of Facey's life in the briefest kind of outline. Facey tells his story in the most straightforward manner, filled with fascinating details and anecdotes, with no trace of self-pity anywhere. And he is the most natural of storytellers, obviously a child of the oral tradition. What you are reading in A FORTUNATE LIFE is history - history of the most personal and valuable sort. Because, for his time, Albert Facey was a kind of Everyman. And the reading world is very fortunate indeed that Albert Facey took the time, with the encouragement of his devoted wife, to set it all down for us. A.B. Facey died in 1982, nine months after his book was published. He was 87 years old.

This is simply one helluva good read. VERY highly recommended. ( )
1 vote TimBazzett | May 3, 2014 |
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I dedicate this book to the memory of my wife, Evelyn. It was her patience and understanding which made it become a reality.
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I was born in the year 1894 at Maidstone in Victoria.
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Book description
Born in 1894, Facey lived the rough frontier life of a sheep farmer, survived the gore of Gallipoli, raised a family through the Depression and spent sixty years with his beloved wife, Evelyn. Despite enduring hardships we can barely imagine today, Facey always saw his life as a 'fortunate' one.
A true classic of Australian literature, his simply written autobiography is an inspiration. It is the story of a life lived to the full - the extraordinary journey of an ordinary man.
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Born in 1894, Facey lived the rough frontier life of a sheep farmer, survived the gore of Gallipoli, raised a family through the Depression and spent sixty years with his beloved wife, Evelyn. Despite enduring hardships we can barely imagine today, Facey always saw his life as a 'fortunate' one. A true classic of Australian literature, his simply written autobiography is an inspiration. It is the story of a life lived to the full - the extraordinary journey of an ordinary man.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140320091, 0143003542

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