BOOK REVIEW: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

This review does not contain spoilers.

IMG_6246Without doubt Judy was the worst of the seven, probably because she was the cleverest.’

Her father, Captain Woolcot, found his vivacious, cheeky daughter impossible—but seven children were really too much for him and most of the time they ran wild at their rambling riverside home, Misrule.

Step inside and meet them all—dreamy Meg, and Pip, daring Judy, naughty Bunty, Nell, Baby and the youngest, ‘the General’. Come and share in their lives, their laughter and their tears.

I was supposed to read Seven Little Australians for my undergrad some five or six years ago. I don’t know why I didn’t read it at the time; it was for the same subject that introduced me to The Book Thief, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and How I Live Now—all of which I really enjoyed.

If I had read the first chapter back then, I would’ve been hooked on this book as well. Ethel Turner’s narrative voice is light and humorous, with an edge of familiar Australian humour that I love. The children’s antics and relationships remind me in turn of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. More than a few times I found myself laughing out loud at a sly joke that reminded me of my own siblings and our constant teasing.

The structure of the novel wavers a bit, and for half the book I wondered if it was comprised of funny little anecdotes with only the children tying them together. Turner eventually narrows the focus, returning to a more cohesive chain of events. This plot seems more natural, and the anecdotes do have some small bearing on later events so (despite first impressions) they’re not just there to pad out the story.

I will warn you that there are some Australian anachronisms that might confuse readers from different backgrounds. Personally, I don’t think they’re so extreme that you wouldn’t be able to understand them in the context but if you’re unsure you might want to have a phone or computer close by to Google some more obscure references.

 

The verdict

After letting it sit untouched on my shelves for years, I enjoyed Seven Little Australians way more than I expected. I’m not one to dote on classics but this is definitely one that I can happily recommend.

 

Goodreads | Book Depository

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