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on 7 July 2002
theres actually alot of contraversy about the origin of the information in this book and whether its fiction or fact.its a simple but fascinating account of one westernised womans journey into the outback of austrailia,whwere she is a guest of the Real People from them she learns a totally different way of life and meaning of life itself.I found it really interesting to have my mind challenged by the way they lived (and still continue to?). Its certainly a refreshing and insightful alternative to our materialstic ,dualistic and goal obssessed culture..i really enjoyed the sequel too.
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on 27 November 2008
When a friend lent me this book, recommending it, he mentioned the controversy around it. I looked up the author on Wikipedia and read the scathing commentary, which almost put me off reading the book. I'm glad my curiosity prevailed, because it's worth reading. The book conveys some important messages about the way Western "civilisation" needs to recover our connection with the natural world, and it does so with great poetic simplicity.

The Wikipedia entry makes it sound as though this is a bit of corporate marketing literature, when it is quite the reverse - and the author is a natural writer: there are some really beautiful passages and perfect descriptions (for example, describing the rare sight of heavy rainclouds: "Occasionally we could even walk under the big overhead shadow, catching the same view an ant might see from the sole of a boot").

If books such as Robert Lawlor's "Voices of the First Day" are taken as a reference point, then it's not inconceivable that a tribe exists that lives in this way. In a way, though, does it matter? Although the outrage about cultural misappropriation is understandable, the heart of this book is clearly sincere, and if it's fictional then it is only employing a well-worn literary device that goes back at least as far as the Bible.

This book may well be a consolidation of the wisdom of various indigenous cultures, from Aboriginal to Native American, but distilling that wisdom into such a direct and beautifully written story is probably just what the doctor ordered when it comes to guiding a way out of the mess we've made - which we urgently need to do, for the sake of our planet and our species.
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on 8 May 2016
When I first read this book, I did find some parts of it inspiring at the time. I have no judgement for anyone who has found useful ideas within it to apply to their life. But I could tell while reading it that some things just seemed too fake, the kind of things people make up to make themselves sound important.
However I cannot recommend this book. Having done research into the author and aboriginal peoples, it is almost entirely made up. The author visited Australia for a few months and worked in a pharmacy. She brought back tea tree oil and began selling it. This started as a story she told to sell more tea tree oil. The story grew and grew until she realised people were excited by the idea of learning aboriginal secrets, so the wrote this fictional book. Plans to publish it were originally canceled due to protests by aboriginal peoples. If you google about it you can find plenty of well researched reasons why most of it is fabricated, even details about the land, let alone making up a fake tribe that has very little culture in common with the tribes that actually lived in the areas she claimed to have visited. The reason that it DOES matter is that this woman has made a lot of profit off of exploiting our ignorance of real, living, aboriginal cultures. We should be learning from THEM, not from a charlatan outsider. I will not forgive someone for telling lies about people just because the lies are "nice", because she is stealing their voice. Let them speak for themselves and share their culture on their own terms instead of using them to spice up your writing to sell more books.

If she had been honest and written a book about her spiritual ideas without making up stories that spread misinformation about Australia and the peoples there, then I would have no problem with it AT ALL. Just because we want it to be true doesn't mean we should pretend it is and defend trickery.
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on 15 September 1999
Remembering deep essense of what it is to be human - I do not see the experiences of 'the Real People' as exclusive to them. We can all wake up and live in the moment with a concept of 'forever' in all our actions. This book changed my life in getting to feel what it really is to be free, responsible and alive!!! It's an honour to learn about these very special people and be inspired by them. I read it non-stop in an afternoon. I recommend it to everyone!
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on 14 October 1999
This book puts everything into perspective. It provides a philosophy on life that it is hard to disagree with. An American woman meets her "twin spirit" in the Australian Outback and discovers the real meaning in her life, and managed to persuade me that the Aboriginal "religion" or philosophy of life can, could and should be promulgated round the planet. It ties in humanity with the rest of the natural world. It makes the brutality of Western culture all too evident, but in a non-judgemental way. A brilliant book, that is enjoyable even if read as fiction, but really contains a message of vital importance to humanity, and especially Western society.
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on 6 September 2006
I had been lent a copy of this book and enjoyed it immensely, as what I thought was factual experience and insight into Aboriginal culture. I was planning to purchase a copy so I could re-read it and lend it out too. However, I have now learned that the book has been 'set-up' as fact and leads readers to believe that it is classed only as fiction to protect people mentioned in the book. I am outraged that a book is allowed to mislead in this way. If I had known it was purely fictional, with no basis in actual experience of the author, I would not have read it and I certainly would not now buy a copy. I feel deceived - but nothing compared to how Aboriginal people must feel!
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on 17 July 2004
...if you do a google search on the author`s name there`s an awful lot of detailed information about the controversy surrounding this book. Eventually the author admitted her book was made up. The story itself is one of pre-fall beauty espousing an attractive New Age life philosophy. It`s a bit strange but really very appealing. The problem is it is presented as fact when it isn`t and the damage it has done to the aboriginal image is immense. The last thing a struggling race needs is their culture to be hijacked and misrepresented by a profiteering dreamer.
Please don`t buy this book. If you`re interested in Aboriginies or Australia there are lots of good true books. I like Bruce Chatwin`s "Songlines".
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on 22 July 2011
This book is very captivating, mainly because the story is so incredible. It has little literary value and I would not have bought it or read it if I thought it was fiction. Upon finishing the book I did some research and found out that there is reasonable doubt about most of the story and the author has pretty much admitted making most of it up. I now feel conned and disappointed. Writing a book as a seemingly realistic account of facts that have been invented simply in order to "sell" one's world view is seriously sick. It's a machiavellian practice that one would expect from political propaganda or those out to start a sect. If you want to write fiction, why not write it honestly and openly, making it absolutely clear that yours is an invented story. And if you cheated because you wanted your story to be taken more seriously, then pause a while and reflect on the fact that that's precisely the point of differentiating between fiction and reality: readers take fiction with a grain of salt as they know it to be the product of the author's opinions and fantasy, and that's a good thing! If the author is clever, original, inventive and refreshing, I will reflect on the story and may alter my world view as a result. By conning the reader into thinking that your fiction was reality, you broke the reader's trust and destroyed any positive impact that your story may have had.
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on 26 September 2015
I bought this and read it as a factual account of a woman's experience. I later found out that she has been accused of making the whole thing up. It would have been very far fetched but beautiful if true.
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on 11 March 2011
Do not get influenced by the debate on whether this book is fiction or non-fiction. The message here is beyond the words or the people/characters in the book. It points (that is all words can do) to a truth which is beyond anything the mind can grasp,and that is the essence which runs through all of life including you, in fact it is not seperate from you, it is what YOU are. This may or may not resonate with you depending on whether the time is ripe.
There is an old buddhist saying "The finger pointing to the moon is NOT the moon" This book is a perfect example of a finger pointing. So read it, and see whether you are ripe for this perrenial TRUTH.

Rob (WORC'S)
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