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The White Earth by Andrew McGahan

The White Earth

by Andrew McGahan

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295938,041 (3.67)52



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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Wonderful. A complicated Australian story across three generations, and the title ends up being a literal one. I especially enjoyed the reiterative 'man on fire' motif, and the complicated history of the station over time. ( )
  kcshankd | Sep 12, 2016 |
When William's father dies in a farm accident , he and his mother go to live with his great uncle in a rambling run down house on a large property in the Darling Downs in Queensland Aust. The old man is grooming 9 year old William to inherit the property, but Native Title legislation is being introduced into Australian Parliament, and an incident in the past could open the way for an aboriginal claim on the land. ( )
  TheWasp | Aug 23, 2013 |
It would seem we have been leaning heavily towards the Australian novel this year with the completion of White Earth by Andrew McGahan. Set in rural Australia during the 1980's Mabo debate, young eight year old William finds himself used as a pawn by his widowed mother and distant uncle in a family struggle of homestead survival. As with Grenville's Secret River, which we read earlier this year, we have a great novel depicting both sides of the rual conflict for land.

It was agreed by most of our readers that it was interesting to read a novel that dealt with the history of our time. Aware of Mabo when it was happening, most of us could not relate to the issue at the time. We all found the characters to be realistic, even if William appeared to be a little too insightful for his eight years.

Sue suggested that the second half of the book was much more intriguing than the first half and Viti agreed. She felt the vocabulary was not elevated (say, to a Malouf level) enough to completely keep her interest, whereas Tera thought his description of the Australian bush was beautifully done and I had to agree with her. I found it simple and understated in a countrified way. Something Australians are very good at.

Ann loved its history, people, symbolism and social justice issues ... and it got extra points for the map!

We didn't get too deep with this book as I think we could all clearly see the picture the author was painting. I did think it interesting that Nancy and Denise both commented on the women in the story and their ineptness. This was not meant to be anything other than an observation, but clearly an interesing one as it brought us to the discussion of depression in rual areas and its impact.

The scores ran from 4 to 8, a tight run with Secret River in the popularity stakes for our group. White Earth won the Miles Franklin Award last year, so if you have an interest in Australian fiction, it really is a must read. ( )
  DaptoLibrary | Aug 6, 2012 |
The blurb for the book describes it as Great Expectations sets in modern day Queensland, which I think put me off it for a while as I'm not a huge Dickens fan. It is about a young boy who goes to live with his strange great uncle on at his rundown house after his father dies with the hope that the uncle will like him enough to make him his heir. Interwoven with this is the life story of the uncle, explaining his obsession with the property. It was an interesting story with elements of the gothic (the mysterious house, ghostly figures, wicked housekeeper etc) mixed with commentary about Australia's history and the land rights of Aborigines. Sometimes, I found it hard to place the timing of the story - most of it is set in the 1990s, but it doesn't seem like the modern world. Towards the end of the book, I felt that too much of the history was just explained by one character rather than revealed to us through the plot, and it didn't seem believable that someone would be talking about this to a 9 year old boy. However, putting aside these niggles, it was still a decent read that drew me in and kept me interested to the end. ( )
  sanddancer | Jan 11, 2010 |
How did this melodramatic nonsense come to win amongst a short list comprising (amongst other lesser works) Salt Rain by Sarah Armstrong; The Gift of Speed by Steven Carroll; and The Submerged Cathedral by Charlotte Wood ?? It also won The Age Book of the Year Award, for reasons I cannot fathom. ( )
  anzlitlovers | Dec 24, 2008 |
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In late 1992, 8 year-old William looked out from the back verandah of his home and saw the mushroom cloud of a nuclear explosion. There was no sound, but William was aware of the smell of burning.... Later, his father dead by fire and his mother plagued by demons of her own, William is cast upon the charity of his embittered uncle.… (more)

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