Book Review: This Red Earth by Kim Kelly

I first read This Red Earth back in 2017 and it was a definite 5-star read. I always like to have an audiobook going in the car, so when I saw Kim Kelly’s books were available on my library app, I thought it was time to revisit her stories. I’m very fussy about my narrators, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, but the two narrators for This Red Earth did an absolutely fabulous job of capturing the characters of Gordon (Gordie) and Bernadette (Bernie).

 

This Red Earth is a fabulous story full of love, drama, intrigue, and the beautiful and hard land that is Australia. I fell in love with the characters in this story the first time I read it, and I fell in love with them again whilst listening to it this go-round. I lived through the good, the bad and the terrible times with them as if I were there. Once again Kim Kelly draws us in and lets us live the history of this land and its people.

We travel through the outback of NSW to sheep stations where we meet some wonderful characters and learn how important community and the CWA were in those times. We travel to New Guinea with Gordie who goes there to do a job drilling for petroleum and gets caught up in the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. I know very little about this time, but Kim Kelly picked me up and plonked me on this island in the middle of chaos, it was a terrible time, the whole World War two and all wars before and after were terrible and it’s a sad thing that nothing has ever really been learnt from it when it comes to the people in power.

Another aspect of Australian history I know little about is the incarceration of immigrants during the war. I am astonished, (well actually, I’m not, because the same thing happens today on a much larger and more terrible scale with asylum seekers and the Australian government), at the way people who had been living a peaceful life, who had come to Australia to start a new life, often because of persecution in their own country, were thrown in concentration prisons as enemies of the country.

Bernie and Gordie were strong characters who fought for the rights of others and for themselves. Their relationship was one that endured so many bumps (often mountains, not bumps), and I was fearful at times that one or the other of them might not make it through.

This is an emotional read, but an inspiring read of courage and hope and perseverance.

I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait to read or listen another Kim Kelly story.

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Book Review: A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel for review purposes.

davI’ll start by saying that I ended up really enjoying this novel. If I hadn’t been given it to read and review, I wouldn’t have gotten past the first 100 pages though, actually, not even that far. So I’m really glad I had to keep reading because it was well worth persevering with this story.

This is a dual timeline historical fiction novel that revolves around 5 friends who are mathematicians in Hungary in 1938, teens who have lost the right to go to university because they are Jewish. Despite reading a fair few books set around WWII, I really still have no idea how Hitler, referred to in this novel as the small German psychopath, and his rules and laws completely affected and persecuted everyone of Jewish descent well before the war actually started. From not being allowed to work in most jobs, study or have freedom to move around their country, or out of it. I especially knew nothing of the people from Hungary.

The story itself was great, it was the mathematics that had me thinking, I am not enjoying this, I completely do not understand anything they are talking about. But if you can get through the larger chunk of mathematical concepts up to the first third of the book, then you will discover a really good story, one with a mystery and secrets that we slowly uncover through the reading of a notebook in the present timeline in Australia.

The present timeline, set in Australia is one of a largely disfunctional family, who’s younger members are trying to find their way and follow their dreams, who’s mother, Illy is feeling lost while trying to deal with her adult children and her elderly stubborn mother, Eszter, as well as a husband she’s not sure of anymore. As dreams for the future converge with secrets from the past, the family dynamics will undergo some interesting changes.

I was completely engaged with the characters, both past and present, wanting to know what would happen next and what had happened to them in the past. There’s a huge twist near the end that I completely did not see coming, which is something I love, I love being surprised when something completely unexpected happens in a story I where think I know roughly what is going to happen or be uncovered.

It’s a story of friendship, love, family, hope, dreams and mathematics. As well as persecution and fighting back any way you can.