Its black comedy touches on subjects such as incest, the stolen generation and rape. Yes, seriously. It opens with a desire to get horse poo at a funeral and the attempted opening of a coffin with an axe, and continues from there at a pretty much non-stop pace.
The character of Rose Walsh is as well-drawn as any in Australian fiction, and her recollections open up the world of her times to the way a common person - not an historian - would see it. The research that has gone into the tale is substantial, and the little details that come through make the events all that more believable.
Margaret's writing has an easy to read style that carries the reader along with the story. Her turns of phrase and descriptions are stunning, and when coupled with the situations she has created, it makes all up for an incredibly entertaining read. This is a book that should have got a lot more attention in the South Australian press than it did when it was released in 2011. It is one of the better books written by a South Australian in a long time - historical without being pretentious, genuinely funny and moving.
On her website, Margaret tells how the story came to be written, as part of a three day novel writing competition held by the Salisbury Council. That in itself is something of a story! From there it was extended, revised, revamped until Ginninderra Press decided to publish the final work.
Now, I am not saying this book is perfect. There is some questionable editing in places, and some of the minor characters do tend towards cliche, but once the reader gets into the story, these flaws are easily overlooked.
Well worth your effort to find a copy.
It is available from the Ginninderra Press website, but you'll need to scroll almost all the way down to the bottom to find it. It's available for $27.50 p/h. Give it a go; you won't be disappointed.