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Sunday, January 24, 2016

The River House by Janita Cunnington

It is easy to imagine that you are in the middle of the Australian bush when you read this evocative and moving story about a family that is beset by dark secrets but bound together by their beautiful river house in Queensland.  Laurie, Tony and Miranda come here for holidays with their parents and love to share adventures until one day that changes everything...

Laurie likes to study the luminous insects and enjoys wandering through the bush with Tony but as she grows up the river house doesn't play such a big part in their lives.  A trusting and kind-hearted girl, she becomes the one who everyone relies on, until she realises that you have to toughen up to live in this world. Even her beloved river house may eventually come at a cost.

Laurie grows up after the Second World War and the author captures this era perfectly. Laurie's friendship with Carol and her experiences with boyfriends ring true to life and the effects of the Vietnam War on the family are also very well-done.  Her fraught relationship with her brother Tony, however, is probably the most important part of the book and the most unsettling.

Janita Cunnington describes the wild coastal region near Brisbane beautifully and conveys the terrible danger of floods as well.  Fighting the wilderness is always difficult with a 'river house' and Cunnington conveys just how hard it can be to keep a place like this.

Many families in Australia have a house like the river house. Expect this book to bring back memories!


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