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Journey to the Stone Country by Alex Miller
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Journey to the Stone Country (2002)

by Alex Miller

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199759,063 (3.47)21
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I read this book for my book club and also as part of Townsvilles' One Town One Title promotion at which Alex Miller attended to answer some of the audiences questions.

I enjoyed the book and found Alexs' landscape descriptions incredibly beautiful. The love story itself was not my focus but was a nice way to explore deeper ideas of reconciliation, land rights, historical importance and spirituality.
( )
  jodes101 | May 9, 2013 |
loved this book ... great writing, insight into Aust indigenous land issues, amazing story, surprising interrelationships ( )
1 vote elizabrown | Jan 5, 2012 |
Facing an uncertain future after her husband abruptly leaves her for a much younger woman, Annabelle Beck leaves her hectic Melbourne life behind and returns to her long-forgotten roots in rural Queensland. Alongside Aboriginal cattleman Bo, a former neighbour, Annabelle begins to rediscover the landscape of her childhood, as well as some long-held local secrets.

Miller's tale is slow-paced and subtle, yet utterly absorbing. Recommended. ( )
2 vote whirled | May 22, 2010 |
A friend recommended this novel and warned me it was “nothing special.” I beg to differ. Miller’s descriptions of the natural settings of Queensland remind me of Peter Mathiesson. His characters – stoic, wise, chain-smoking ringers (cowboys) – spring right out of Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.

Annabelle Beck, abandoned by her philandering husband, escapes to Queensland to see her sister and an old friend. She meets Bo Rennie, part Jangga (aborigine) and part white. Together they explore the area, but a visit to Bo’s aunt turns things upside down. Leaving the home, Annabelle is confused, and must reevaluate her plans. I won’t say anymore, because the ending completely surprised me.

This absorbing story is not without its faults. Some of the dialogue seems a little stiff and artificial, but the descriptions are marvelous – almost Zen-like. Miller also tends to be a bit repetitious. He tells us three or four times, in a short span, that “sandlewood is the incense of the bush,” and he mentions “road kill wallabies along the verge” (shoulder of the road) numerous times.

I also picked up quite a bit of Aussie slang, which was a lot of fun, like “billy,” “swag,” “agistment,” and “rort.”. Miller also has a fine touch evident in quite a few of his sentences. For example, “The dry groundcover crackling beneath Bo’s boots, realeasing the musty odours of dead time” (55); “Her memories of Mount Coolon had not been memories at all, but the unreliable inventions of nostalgia” (282). He also uses a lot of fragments – broken pieces of description, much like the landscape with rocks and clumps of grass and weeds.

The U.S. is not the only country that horribly treated the native peoples it found in a new land. It sounds as if a good-faith effort tried to mend some of those injustices, but bitter hatred remains in some hearts. This idea is central to this story.

Journey to the Stone Country draws the reader in quietly, softly, and makes the reader part of the story. I call these “message” books, because someone is speaking to me – an extremely rare kind of novel. 4-1/2 stars

--Jim, 8/15/09 ( )
1 vote rmckeown | Aug 15, 2009 |
A slow starter, it lulls you into the whole north Queensland vibe expertly. An interesting look into the lives of contemporary indigenous culture and relationships between those with different culture but shared history. ( )
1 vote sleepydumpling | Apr 18, 2009 |
The journey described here is that of a middle-aged Australian woman, Annabelle, who returns to the country of her childhood after her husband abandons her. She meets a mixed-race man whom she knew as a small child, and together they seek to rediscover their roots and salvage their very different cultures. This journey takes Annabelle away from the academic life she has always embraced and into a natural world of feeling and sensing that is new to her. Although it is a rather quiet tale, the tension is palpable as we wonder what hope there is for their relationship, for the others who travel in their path, and for the country that has been shredded by its painful racial history. The descriptions of the geographical setting are stunning, and the clean, spare writing style carefully, expertly rounds out its complex and very human characters. This is a brilliant piece of serious fiction. ( )
8 vote kambrogi | Dec 15, 2008 |
An excellant read. I really enjoyed it. It really describes well how we connect with the place we grew up and were shaped for the rest of our lives. It highlghts the contrast between the European Australian culture and the aboriginal culture and how that affects our attides to time and place. This guy really knows how to convey his message in his writing. I'll have to read some more of his books.
  MarkKeeffe | Nov 8, 2008 |
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