About a year ago I realised, with the exception of Nick Cave, I'd never actually read any books by Australian authors and that I should probably fix that. I throughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't quite believe it was written by a 16 year old. It was sort of the anti-Little House on the Praire. Here being a poor agricultural worker was very hard work, people went hungary and people lost what little they had very easily. There were drunken fathers who ruined lives and kindly neighbours who helped out. The book was also a little the opposite of Jane Austen as while there was a wealthy landowner who fell for the young heroine she definitely did NOT fall in love with him back and spent most of the book trying to escape his marriage proposals.
I have to say I really enjoyed the character of Sybylla. She was highly opinionated. She was disatisfied with life and wanted more, music, literature and culture. Yet she gave up on these things to maintain her own independence. She was a very strong willed person and yet the same time suffered from very low self esteem, to the point where it crippled her ability to make good descisions. She came across as somewhat manic depressive, blissfully happy and then having a depressive breakdown. Yet her emotions were very real and her discussions very frank. I loved the way she spoke very openly about the problems of her life and the society she was living in. From the sexism, to the drinking to the droughts. If she reminded me of anyone it was a little of Claudine from Collette's novels. Though perhaps slightly more intelligent and insightful. But I think the two of them would have made a truly fantastic couple.
This really was a fantastic book and I have already bought a copy of the sequal and am really looking forward to reading it....Continua