Typical Gemini, with the concentration span of a gnat & not one for sitting still. My old Da used to say that "you're a long time dead". So my mantra is get busy living.Please join me for more at
Published May 19th 2016
Read How They Used To Do Family Holidays As They Used To Be
The River House by Janita Cunnington was published in 2016, and awarded the 2016 Book Club Pick of the Year.
Interestingly, Cunnington as a child lived with her family and her paternal grandfather in Brisbane in a sprawling Queenslander. The family would holiday at Munna Point on the Noosa River, frolicking by the sea, and the children would remain intrigued by a little old house on the wild side of the river. This would become the inspiration for this debut novel.
The River House is a ramshackle, basic weatherboard structure built on blocks to avoid the tidal river waters, that serves as the holiday home of the Carlyle family. It is surrounded by bush, close to the ocean, is home to abundant wildlife, and takes the reader back to family holidays before the advent of high rise and affordable air travel. Indeed, we can feel the warmth of the sun on our shoulders and the sand between our toes such is the descriptive prose of the author.
The story is told through Laurie, middle child of the Carlyles, commencing when she is just four years old. We watch the changing family dynamics as Laurie goes from primary to high school and onwards, her various relationships, to finding her own place in the world.
Nostalgia plays a big part in this book, as Laurie's age parallels a postwar history familiar to many with South East Queensland origins, including dance hall nights, shopping in Brisbane city in gloves, the Vietnam War, student activists, and major land developments along the east coast. Music also weaves throughout the storyline also adding to the feeling of familiarity.
Much is made of family secrets within this book which I think is a bit of a furphy. Look, there are no dead bodies buried under the house, no dreadful deeds have been done. This novel is a reminder that life just happens and in most part we make the best of unfortunate situations. This story includes some unfortunate situations that tend to have ramifications.
This is an easy, gentle novel and would be great summer holiday reading as the author manages to write in a languid, relaxed style. Those with roots in South East Queensland would most certainly get a kick out of it.