Seven Little Australians(The Woolcots #1)

by Ethel Turner

Category: Communication & Journalism

  • Type: Paperback
  • Pages: 120 pages
  • ISBN: none
  • ASIN: B006H9YB0S
  • Edition Language: English

This book has never been out of print since it was published in 1894. Undoubtedly the story holds a special place in the hearts of many generations of Australians. It is indeed a classic. Having said that, I must confess that I was a tad underwhelmed by it. While written in 1894, this is a surprisingly modern book in many ways.

Turners prose is lively, fresh, immediate and direct. Some of the passages could have been written yesterday. How like a 21st century family are the Woolcots, with their many issues, such as brilliant, headstrong children, determined to follow their own hearts, lax supervision by distracted parents, disregard for education, and deliberate deceptions? Yet in many other ways it is absolutely a product of its time, including the social mores and class structure which underpinned the management of middle class families in the Victorian era.There are some mixed values exposed in the story which rather perplexed me.

There is a fine line being drawn between Aussie free-spirit, likeable rogue and delinquent. Are we supposed to like Bunty, when he is such an inveterate liar and thief, notwithstanding he is a little boy? Apart from the toddlers, all the children lie, all the time - which does not endear me to them, and makes me wonder about the messages going out to the Australian children who would read this book over the generations.

The negative portrayal of the father, and the children’s obvious dislike and lack of respect for him appalled me, frankly. Yet, this is indeed a very modern matter, and is something frequently addressed by 21st century authors writing about dysfunctional families. Perhaps Turner was ahead of her time?

I dont want this book to be all about happy families either. But that whole aspect of the narrative, the relationship between the children and their father and step-mother seems underdone to me, could have been handled better.I also think there is a lack of balance in the narrative between events in Sydney and Yarrahappini, outback NSW.

What happened on the station was a defining moment in the history of the Woolcot family. I think it deserved more in-depth treatment. It seems to be rushed, towards the end of the book, as if the author was in a hurry to get it finished.

An example of that lack of balance: it seems to me many hundreds of words are devoted to the dialogues between Meg Woolcot and her world-wise friend Aldith about fashion and boys, while the major event at the rural property is dealt with in a few pages.

And that is the rather abrupt end of the book. So, despite its status as a classic, I only gave this book 3 stars.

Seven Little Australians(The Woolcots #1) ebook