All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

What I Read On My Holiday, Part 1

on September 26, 2022

I spent the first two weeks of September on a family holiday in Queensland, which was really nice. I didn’t take any physical books, just relied on my kindle stash as well as borrowing electronically from my local library via the apps they use. This meant that to be honest, reading was a bit of a mixed bag. I didn’t take my laptop so I didn’t write any reviews while I was away so these brief recaps I’m going to do over multiple posts here are written with the acknowledgement that I read these between 2 & almost 4 weeks ago so there are honestly going to be things I don’t remember.

Paul Daley
Allen & Unwin
2022, 376p
Read via my local library/Libby app

Blurb {from the publisher/}: From award-winning journalist Paul Daley comes a gripping multi-generational saga about Australian frontier violence and cultural theft, and the myths that stand between us and history’s unpalatable truths.

Morally bereft popular historian Patrick Renmark flees London in disgrace after the accidental death of his infant son. With one card left to play, he reluctantly takes a commission to write the biography of his legendary pioneering adventurer-anthropologist grandfather.

With no enthusiasm and even less integrity, Patrick travels to Jesustown, the former mission town in remote Australia where his grandfather infamously brokered ‘peace’ between the Indigenous custodians of the area and the white constabulary. He hasn’t been back there since he was a teenager when a terrible confrontation with his grandfather made him vow never to return.

Of course nothing is as it seems or as Patrick wants it to be. Unable to lay his own son to rest, Patrick must re-examine the legacy of his renowned grandfather and face the repercussions of his actions on subsequent generations. Will what he finds bring him redemption or add to the vault of family secrets and terrible guilt he keeps uncovering?

This was a rough start. Some of that was probably my misconception about this book when I borrowed it – I thought it was going to be about a cult actually, based on the title but it isn’t. It’s about Patrick, a man who writes history books that revel in and glorify whitewashing basically. He describes himself as a “story-ist” and has been incredibly successful and popular, the book of choice for people to give their father’s and husbands on Father’s Day or at Christmas. It all comes crashing down in the worst of ways though when Patrick’s selfish behaviour sets in motion a series of events that end in the loss of life of his infant son. With his reputation in tatters, the only option left to him is to finally accept the offer to write the story of his own grandfather, an anthropologist and adventurer who spent a large amount of time living with a local Indigenous population in remote Australia. All of his grandfather’s possessions including notes, letters, artefacts etc are in that place and Patrick must travel there to use them to write the story.

Oh God. Patrick is horrible. He has zero redeeming features for me I’m afraid and being in his head reading this…..yikes. It was tedious. The way in which he embodies every middle aged academic cliche, his lack of consideration and appreciation for his wife to the blunt acknowledgement of his manipulative story writing and how he enjoyed his previous success as some sort of deserving glory and accolades and now drowns out his disgrace in alcohol. He is quite frankly, pathetic.

This might’ve gone better for me had he actually had any growth as a character whatsoever but it never felt like he actually learned anything. The time in Jesustown is incredibly repetitive, with Patrick drinking heavily (he has a permit to drink in the community, if anyone shouldn’t have been granted one it’s Patrick), being condescending to most of the locals and listening to tapes his grandfather made before he died which shed light on his youth and his relationship with his son and Patrick’s father Luke. There’s also an admitting of the times when Patrick’s grandfather did the Indigenous community he was supposed to be championing quite wrong, be it inadvertently or deliberately.

All in all, this just wasn’t the book for me. I wanted so much more from the story, from Patrick as a character and from the situation that he was in, and how he had gotten there. But it didn’t deliver unfortunately.


Book #154 of 2022

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