Good Reading : September 2006
Each of the above reading groups will receive a parcel of books fromgr as a thank you for sending in their contributions.If your group would like to be included in future issues, send us a summary of a recent discussion of any book, and those chosen to be published will receive a parcel of books. If you’d like to join our reading group register, you can register your group online at www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au Join in our national reading group discussion! late 1950s and early 1960s are woven into the story, and keep the plot firmly grounded in the real world. We recommend The Poisonwood Bible. It will certainly provide you with lots of excitement and plenty of discussion points. HE BALLAD OF DESMOND KALE oger McDonald esmond Kale, an escaped Irish politi- al prisoner and a rebelliously brilliant reeder of sheep in the first days f British settlement in Australia, is ursued by his rival, wildly eccentric arson magistrate Matthew Stanton. The novel is both a love story and an epic tale of greed, ambition, conceit, and redemption. BARBARA of the Bardon Bookies, Brisbane wrote: This split our group right down the middle. Half heard angels singing – beautiful language, a mythical hero, a delightful touch of Irish ir reverence, eight wonderful sections/stanzas, and the occasional refrain. The other half said they must be tone deaf – they couldn’t hear a thing, let alone understand McDonald’s style. Only the diligent half finished the book, which they rated 3 to 4½ out of 5. So our discussion from then on was lopsided. Only the ‘ayes’ had it, and they agreed with reviews we had conscien- tiously dug up, some of which enthused over Kale’s ‘verve, imagination and ingenuity’, declaring it ‘heightened, eloquent and artificial’. Our ‘fans’ loved the poetic descriptions of the landscape and McDonald’s knowledgeable details (though they skipped over the history of sheep!). How great to read about a ‘wool rush’ instead of the usual gold rushes! They enjoyed the possible links between Stanton and the Reverend Marsden, and between Wilkie and Macquarie. They thought Stanton and Dolly were obnoxious. Their hearts beat for Titus; they liked most of the minor characters, and McDonald’s ability to depict the same characters from different viewpoints. Kale begged our comparison with Grenville’sThe Secret River, which the ‘fans’ thought was modern and predictable, while McDonald captured the sense of a bygone era. The review in gr [February 2006] was, like our group’s assessment, ambivalent. Ah well: one man’s meat … Barbara Kingsolver and The Ballad of Desmond Kale by Roger McDonald (winner of the 2006 Miles Franklin Award).