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4.4 out of 5 stars122
4.4 out of 5 stars
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2003
This novel combines a compelling plot with emotional insight. The characters in it are conveyed with tenderness and empathy, and the way they struggle to cope with their own lives, and each other, is moving.
Seen through the eyes of Kate Morrison (older sister to Bo, and younger sister to Matt and Luke), the trials and tribulations of a unique family unit are brought to life. The story manages to convey a rich vein of wisdom without being preachy.
Tricky subjects such as fate, guilt and forgiveness are dealt with, and by the end of the book I felt like I had made the journey through these with Kate.
This is not dissimilar to Anne Tyler. Mary Lawson also seems to find magic and beauty in the seemingly ordinary pattern of everyday life.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2005
It is a VERY long time since I read through a book in one sitting AND am about to read it again! A beautiful story, reminding me alot of To Kill A Mockingbird in that it's told in the first person by a girl now grown and looking back on her childhood. Some may say I shouldn't compare this, Mary Lawson's first novel, to such a classic as Mockingbird, but that was Harper Lee's first and ONLY novel remember.
Well written, good story, unputdownable - what more can a reader want? Hopefully this is not Lawson's ONLY novel!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 1 April 2008
I want to say this is a gentle story, but I do not wish to infer that it is shallow or lukewarm. It is exactly the opposite. It has great depth, understanding, beauty and strength. I had the voice of Kate in my head as she narrated her tale. The writing is so keen I could clearly decipher her accent and the measured but deliberate way she speaks.
The atmosphere created by the writing had me holding my breath waiting to see what happened next. There is no razzmatazz, no bells and whistles, just simple, well written, from the heart storytelling, which is so insightful it made me wonder if the author lived out some of the scenarios herself.
As the pages turned with ease I was listening to the story of a child, and a young woman carrying her inner child inside her and still trying to cope with the fall out from the trauma following the loss of her parents at 7 years of age.
The novel has an aura of mystery and suspense that expands slowly as the tale reaches its climax. Kate is ultimately forced to confront her painful past in order to exorcise the ghosts and face the truth for her own sake. A stunningly beautiful read, which provides food for thought afterwards. Enjoy!!!
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2007
I could not put this book down! The story of farmlife in the Canadian wilderness and the struggle to survive and not resign yourself to taking whatever life puts in front of you, was (for me)the main theme of the book. Following the sudden death of their parents, the four Morrison children (Kate, Matt, Luke and baby Bo) struggle to survive, without sacrificing Matt's only chance to gain a scholarship and make something of himself. Interwoven with the Morrisons' lives are those of the small farming community, who, despite their own poverty, strive to help the family to cope. Then there is the Pye family who, because of the hostility of their father, are set apart from the community. Then, the two Morrison boys notice that something is horribly amiss with the Pyes, particularly with Laurie, the son who is mercilessly bullied by his father. Kate and Matt discover that Laurie has scars on his body. Being only young themselves, the Morrison family struggle with this knowledge and whether (and who) they should tell. then Laurie disappears. The main focus of the book seems to be upon the relationship between Kate and Matt and the subtle changes that creep in when an ultimate opportunity seems to be thrown away. This book is written with great feeling, but without undue sentimentality. However, I found myself often 'filling up', my eyes brimming with tears as Kate realises that her years of resentment have been misplaced all along. I loved the ending - it made me feel good about the future for each character.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2007
I read this in two sittings - a beautifully crafted novel about familial life. Disaster strikes and older brothers pledge to bring up the younger siblings. A beautiful setting as well,in the abundant natural surroundings of the Canadian outback. With great descriptions of pond life, I did wonder if these were meant to make comparisions with real life? I loved the way the story is told by Kate, now looking back as an adult on her uncoventional childhood. It turns out that some of it was just not as it seemed to her at the time.

I do think though that social services would have been on the case in real life, but then this is fiction!

Enjoyable worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2009
I can't praise this book highly enough - I just loved it all the way through. Everything seems 'real' and 'right' - the setting, the characters, the dialogue, the scenes, the plot as a whole. The writing is wonderful, and often very funny - from the first paragraph you know you're in for a treat. It's one of those books that you want to read slowly and savour, but you can't stop turning the pages.

The characters are brought to life so well, and by the end you really care about what happens to them.

One of my favourite books ever!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2009
This book was free and I assumed if it was free it would be rubbish, how wrong I was......... It was probably one of the best books I think I have ever read, maybe because I can identify with lots of the family relationships, having come from a large family myself but most definitely because it is really well written, funny, sad and kept me interested throughout. I would strongly recommend this book and I cant wait to get another by Mary Lawson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 11 February 2008
This book is memorable in more ways than one. It sets the scene in the farming town, it tells of childhood memories, not always pleasant, and it tells of growing up in a loving family, and how that can sometimes be a curse. Lawson allows you to really involve yourself in the plot.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves an honest, down-to-earth read, simplicity at its height. Read it NOW!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2010
I read a later book by Mary Lawson 'Over the Bridge' which was wonderful and so wanted to track down this one, her first. Magnificent. Her portrayal of the character of Kate and her siblings after the tragedy which changed all their young lives so completely was brilliant. The psychological impact on the children and how they managed their lives was compelling and realistic but not at all depressing. Richly observed, I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2004
This is a fantastic novel of spell-binding intensity about a family in rural Canada struck by tragedy. Its story is woven without a trace of sentimentality and is completely riveting. The characters are so well drawn that you become emotionally attached to the destiny of each and I was very sorry indeed to find myself at the end of this stunning novel.
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