Book Review: The Girl from Snowy River by Jackie French

19 Jan

I’ve started to fall in love with historical fiction, and Jackie French’s books set in past Australia are particularly appealing at the moment.

This is the story of Flinty McAlpine, a girl living in the mountains post-World War I Australia. When the boys came back from the war, nothing was the same–Sandy, her sweetheart, wouldn’t talk to her. Andy, her brother, left the farm to go droving in Queensland, leaving her to look after her younger brother and sister. Then there are the boys who didn’t come back, like her brother Jeff. No one will talk about the war until Flinty meets a soldier ghost from the future, who gives her an idea of what her friends went through. He also bears a warning: that for Flinty, the worst is yet to come–but the best is, too.

Chock full of Australianisms, this book might require an Australian dictionary close at hand (if you don’t have an Australian in the room to ask.) But that’s what makes this book so engrossing. With brumbies and chooks and billies and whatever else, it couldn’t be set anywhere but Australia. I think that makes it fresh, too–Australia is often overlooked by most, and it’s not often you come across a book set here, even when you’re living in the country.

The characters were lovable and well-written, Flinty standing out as strong and curious; Mrs. Mack the quintessential caring housewife; Kirsty, a girl who’s had to take on too much too soon but remains upbeat nonetheless. Flinty is surrounded by strong women who help and encourage her–like Miss Matilda, previously seen in A Waltz for Matilda, who owns the largest farm in the district. Flinty draws strength from all of them in her time of need, and it’s that which gets her through.

I did think that this was a book begging to be written in first-person. Each chapter started with a diary entry from Flinty, in first person of course. It then transitioned to third person, and I admit I stumbled sometimes over the “she”s meant to be Flinty, as I constantly thought of her as “I.” Not to say it didn’t work this way, too, but it would be interesting to see it all in first person and see what difference it made.

This book was well worth the read, especially if you’re interested in Australian history, or if you just like historical fiction and are looking for a new setting. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into A Rose for the Anzac Boys next!

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One Response to “Book Review: The Girl from Snowy River by Jackie French”

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  1. 2013: A Year of Reading in Review | More Than One Page - December 26, 2013

    […] The Girl from Snowy River by Jackie French […]

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