November 3, 2012

Take Me Away to....Australia



Take Me Away Saturday

This week we are visiting the country of AUSTRALIA.

The Commonwealth of Australia is the sixth largest country in the world, but it has the lowest population density. It is located in the South Pacific Ocean.  It contains beautiful beaches, ancient rock formations, rainforests, deserts, bustling cities, and the wide open outback.  Over 200 languages are spoken in Australia, including 45 indigenous languages. In addition to its varying environments, Australia is famous for diverse wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else.  Famous people from Australia include Rupert Murdoch, Cate Blanchett, Keith Urban, Peter Carey, Baz Lurhmann, Victor Chang, and Ian Frazer.

Here is a map of Australia:




(There is a list of  the countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts at the bottom of this post. Check them out and discover some good books to read and recommend some, too!)


FICTION SELECTIONS:



Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. 
Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.



Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story's heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican...but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life. 



After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss. 



Meet Ed Kennedy—underage cabdriver, pathetic cardplayer, and useless at romance. He lives in a shack with his coffee-addicted dog, the Doorman, and he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence, until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery. That’s when the first Ace arrives. That’s when Ed becomes the messenger. . . .
Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary), until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission? 



Sibeal has always known that she is destined for a spiritual life, and is committed to it with all her heart. The only thing left for her to do before she enters the nemetons is to spend the summer visiting her sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh, on the northern island of Inis Eala.
But Sibeal has barely set foot on the island before a freak storm out at sea sinks a ship before her eyes. In spite of frantic efforts, only three survivors are fished alive from the water, and one of them, a man Sibeal names Ardal, clings to life by the merest thread. Life continues on the island, as it must, and Sibeal befriends Ardal as he begins to regain his health. But it becomes clear there is something unusual about the three shipwrecked strangers. 



This sweeping, irrepressibly inventive novel, is a romance, but a romance of the sort that could only take place in  nineteenth-century Australia. For only on that sprawling continent—a haven for misfits of both the animal and human kingdoms—could a nervous Anglican minister who gambles on the instructions of the Divine become allied with a teenaged heiress who buys a glassworks to help liberate her sex. And only the prodigious imagination of Peter Carey could implicate Oscar and Lucinda in a narrative of love and commerce, religion and colonialism, that culminates in a half-mad expedition to transport a glass church across the Outback. 



The blurb on the back of this book sums it up better than I ever could: "Every city, town and village has its memorial to war.  Nowhere are these monuments more eloquent than in Australia, generations of whose young men have enlisted to fight other people's battles - from Gallipoli and the Somme to Malaya and Vietnam.  In The Great World, his finest novel yet, David Malouf gives a voice to that experience."
Essentially The Great World is about two men, Vic and Digger, who become POWs during the Second World War and how that soul-destroying experience affects the rest of their lives. It is, above all else, a tale of mateship and a study of human nature under extreme conditions. -via Reading Matters



NONFICTION SELECTIONS:


The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is among the most demanding sailing competitions in the world. Unpredictable seas make the 628-nautical-mile course grueling under the best conditions, but the 1998 race proved to be the most perilous to date when a sudden and violent storm struck. Winds gusted over 100 mph and monstrous 80-foot waves towered over boat masts. Six sailors perished and another 55 were saved in what became the largest search and rescue operation in Australia's history. In the face of turmoil and tragedy, a crew of "amateur" sailors piloted their tiny vessel, the AFR Midnight Rambler, not only to the finish but to overall victory. While bigger, better-equipped yachts attempted to maneuver around the storm, Ed Psaltis and his crew made the daring decision to head directly into its path. Their triumph--perhaps even their survival--owes itself to an extraordinary level of teamwork: an alchemy of cooperation, trust, planning, and execution. "Into the Storm" chronicles their nearly four-day ordeal and draws parallels to the world of business, revealing 10 critical strategies for teamwork at the edge.  



Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the WoodsIn A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity.
Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide. 


Veteran biographer Erickson (Great Harry, etc.) focuses on Mary Broad, who was arrested for robbery in 1786 and transported in sordid conditions to the new penal colony in Australia. But the book is, more generally, a stark and fascinating account of what prisoners endured: in England, where harsh laws protected property in an era of unsettling social change; on board ship; and in the penal colonies themselves, where the convicts and their guards carved a bleak existence out of the inhospitable environment. Life was particularly harsh for women, who, in addition to the usual deprivations, also endured the threat of rape and the responsibilities and sorrows of raising children in dire conditions.  


Swept off to live in Sydney by his Australian bride, American writer Tony Horwitz longs to explore the exotic reaches of his adopted land. So one day, armed only with a backpack and fantasies of the open road, he hitchhikes off into the awesome emptiness of Australia's outback.
        What follows is a hilarious, hair-raising ride into the hot red center of a continent so desolate that civilization dwindles to a gas pump and a pub. While the outback's terrain is inhospitable, its scattered inhabitants are anything but. Horwitz entrusts himself to Aborigines, opal diggers, jackeroos, card sharks, and sunstruck wanderers who measure distance in the number of beers consumed en route. Along the way, Horwitz discovers that the outback is as treacherous as it is colorful. Bug-bitten, sunblasted, dust-choked, and bloodied by a near-fatal accident, Horwitz endures seven thousand miles of the world's most forbidding real estate, and some very bizarre personal encounters, as he winds his way to Queensland, Alice Springs, Perth, Darwin--and a hundred bush pubs in between.


 
The songlines are the invisible pathways that criss-cross Australia, ancient tracks connecting communities and following ancient boundaries. Along these lines Aboriginals passed the songs which revealed the creation of the land and the secrets of its past. In this magical account, Chatwin recalls his travels across the length and breadth of Australia seeking to find the truth about the songs and unravel the mysteries of their stories.




CHILDREN'S AND TEENS BOOKS:



 Accompanied by vibrant colorful artwork, D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet captures the spirit of this proud country and its many treasures, natural and man-made.  Visit spectacular Sydney Harbor, try your hand as a jackaroo working a sheep station, or just sit back and enjoy a Vegemite sandwich. Below the starry night glitter of the Southern Cross constellation, Australia’s “down under” wonders shine brightly. 




Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary "whale rider." In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild--and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, it is Kahu who saves the tribe when she reveals that she has the whale rider's ancient gift of communicating with whales. 


A rich and haunting allegory of colonization for all ages and cultures, told from the viewpoint of native animals. This stunning picture book examines the consequences of the arrival of a group of rabbits with entirely unfamiliar ways. They bring new food and animals, and they make their own houses to live in, eventually dominating the environment and its other inhabitants. The parallels with our own experience are many: "They chopped down our trees and scared away our friends and stole our children..." 



Carly has dropped out of uni to spend her days surfing and her nights working as a cook in a Manly cafĂ©. Surfing is the one thing she loves doing … and the only thing that helps her stop thinking about what happened two years ago at schoolies week.  And then Carly meets Ryan, a local at the break, fresh out of jail. When Ryan learns the truth, Carly has to decide. Will she let the past bury her? Or can she let go of her anger and shame, and find the courage to be happy?



This is, of course, just a sampling of books on the Cherokee life for you to read. Do you want to recommend/share books that are about the Cherokee? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for our next trip in books! :)

Here is what is coming up next:
Nov.10th: The Asian country of China
Nov. 17th: The Middle Eastern country of Saudi Arabia
Nov. 24th: The Central American country of Costa Rica


Where we've been and the books that take us there:
Australia, Pacific Islands
New Zealand
Fiji
Cultures Across the World
Australian Aborigines
Sioux Nation
Inuit Culture
Amish Culture
 

7 comments:

  1. I read The Thorn Birds in high school and loved it - loved the miniseries with Richard Chamberlain as well!!

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  2. I really enjoyed The Thorn Birds when I read it in high school, and I liked the mini-series. The film adaptation of Oscar and Lucinda was good, and I love Whale Rider. Great list!

    http://eclecticbooksandmovies.blogspot.com

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  3. Holly (2 Kids and Tired)November 3, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    Awesome list. The Light Between Oceans sounds fantastic. I remember reading Thorn Birds and watching the mini series!
    2 Kids and Tired Books

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  4. I don't think I have seen the miniseries. I will look into that!

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  5. I think I might be the only one who didn't read the Thorn Birds in high school!

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  6. The Thorn Birds was turned into a mini series way back in the 80's it is a bit of a classic here in Oz no idea if it aired anywhere else. There is also a film adaptation of Oscar and Lucinda.


    The only book in this list I have actually read is the Bill Bryson one and he kinda slams my home town! to be fair he stayed at the worst hotel imaginable and if he had asked locals we would have told him to steer clear of the place.


    I am keen to check out the John Marsden and Shaun Tan book. I loved John Marsdens stuff as a teen (not just the Tomorrow when the war began series).


    I remember the Sydney to Hobart race of 98 and there have been some more catastrophic ones since, but I don't think the loss of life has been greater then that yea (thank goodness).


    A great list there with some all time favourite Aussie Authors. Let me know if you would like some more authors to add to your list can recommend heaps!

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