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The Fortunes of Richard Mahony by Henry…
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Absolutely wonderful read, 23 Nov. 2012
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sally tarbox

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This review is from: The Fortunes of Richard Mahony (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Wonderful book set in mid 1800s Ballarat, Australia. The eponymous character is - at the start - in his late 20s, an Irish doctor who has come out to seek his fortune, and has abandoned his profession to run a - not particularly successful - store.
Matrimony comes quite early on when he marries the much younger Mary. Her gentle encouragement prompts him to resume his medical career and gradually they move up in the world. Yet his life is never his own, with her friends and family coming to stay or needing help. And while loving, Mary fails to fully understand her husband:
'He had no talent for friendship, and he knew it; indeed, he would even invert the thing, and say bluntly that his nature had a twist in it which directly hindered friendship...Sometimes he felt like a hungry man looking on at a banquet, of which no one invited him to partake because he had already given it to be understood that he would decline.'
In the ensuing volumes, we see him finding great success. But life goes horribly wrong and Mary has to step up and take the reins... I particularly liked the way that the final volume is written in part from the viewpoint of their young son, Cuffy, and how his feelings and behaviour are shaped by being moved from pillar to post and having a Papa of whom he is ashamed.
Absolutely wonderful read that deserves to be better known.
Wonderful characterization and descriptions of Australian life at this time for both the haves and have-nots. Although written in 1917, I found the style very much of the Victorian era in which the book is set. Deserves to be much more famous than it is. ( )
1 vote starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |

I read this book shortly after the birth of my second child (who turns 29 in about six weeks time). It was on the syllabus for a university course I was doing at the time. My enduring memory is sitting in bed at 2.00 am, reading while feeding the baby, with my tears falling onto his head. And then, continuing to read, well after the baby was asleep again, because I couldn't put it down. An epic book. ( )
1 vote KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
A soul's slow, slow descent. I remember the trauma. ( )
1 vote Jakujin | Mar 30, 2013 |
Written as a trilogy, Australia Felix (1917), The Way Home (1925) and Ultima Thule (1929). Now almost a century later the book provides and excellent view of life in early Australia settlement

Richard Mahoney, as a young disallusioned Irish doctor, left Ireland for the gold fields of Ballarat. After his marriage to the 16year old Polly (later called Mary), the failure of his storekeeping business and the loss of his first child, they move to Melbourne and Mahoney resumes practicing medicine.

Polly is a devoted, loyal, supportive wife. Although he loves Polly, Richard is selfish and restless, and decisions made throughout their marriage give little regard to Polly. He finds his Australian home harsh and unwelcoming.

Even success cannot make Richard happy and he is continually packing up and moving home. Misfortune robs him of his savings and thus begins his gradual slide into poverty and mental illness.

Although the books begin slowly, and the language seems simple, the story is conveyed with honesty and compassion. ( )
1 vote TheWasp | Oct 3, 2012 |
I read the last in the trilogy, Ultima Thule, while sitting at Bangkok airport a few months ago. It was the most harrowing thing I have ever read. The supreme tragedy of all hope being lost. I must argue that in the end Mahoney and his wife had a really magical reconciliation - it seemed that she had always understood him and what he wanted to achieve.

I' m not given to waxing lyrical about Australia but you read Handel Richardson and think of how much you love the barren and bleak landscape that can get the better of us all.
1 vote trifenajo | Jul 6, 2010 |
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To W.L.R.
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Book 1, Australia Felix: In a shaft on the Gravel Pits, a man had been buried alive.
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..if I were to read from sunrise to sundown, for the rest of my days, I shouldn't get through a quarter of the books that are waiting for me....

And what of me? whose dearest dream it was, while I slaved for a living, to be able to end my days in a library. I declare to you, it is still a disturbing thought that I shall die leaving so many books unread.
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Henry Handel Richardson's complete work The Fortunes of Richard Mahony consists of three books, as follow:

Book I: Australia Felix;
Book 2: The Way Home; and
Book 3: Ultima Thule.

This LT Work consists of Henry Handel Richardson's complete work; please do not combine it with any constituent part(s), each of which have LT Works pages of their own.

Thank you.
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Set in Australia during the gold-mining boom, this remarkable trilogy is one of the classics of Australian literature. Henry Handel Richardson's great literary achievement, comprising the novels Australia Felix, The Way Home and Ultima Thule, weaves together many themes. Richard Mahony, despite finding initial contentment with his wife, Mary, becomes increasingly dissatisfied with his ordered life. His restlessness is not understood by Mary, who has to endure the constant shattering of her security as Richard desperately attempts to free himself; his attempts finally plunge them into poverty. In the figure of Richard Mahony, Richardson captures the soul of the emigrant, ever restless, ever searching for some equilibrium, yet never really able to settle anywhere. Richard's search, though, is also the more universal one for a meaning that will validate and give purpose to his existence. -- Publisher description.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014043710X, 1921922281

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