#BookSnapSunday – Australian History

 

IMG_2490Since the beginning of Covid 19 my reading has taken a downward spiral. Despite all the extra time spent at home I seem to have had less time for reading rather than more. Being naturally introverted, I initially relished the idea of having a valid excuse for staying home and thought of all the things I could achieve during this time. However, I seriously underestimated the amount of time that would be taken up caring for Dan and trying to keep him fruitfully occupied while he too was house bound. Trying to balance Dan’s needs while keeping up with study has been quite challenging and very tiring. After all the reading I have had to do for studying two lots of history,  reading for pleasure has been the last thing I have felt like doing. I am yet to finish books I started reading in April and sadly blogging has fallen a little by the wayside too. But we are nearing the end of the semester when we start to recap what we were supposed to have learned through fifteen weeks of study in preparation for online exams.

Today’s book snap is inspired by Australian history. In the study of Contemporary Australia we began in the middle of World War Two and travelled through the post-war reconstruction of the late 1940s and the 1950s, the civil unrest of the 1960s and emergence of the social movements, and finished up with the political leadership of Prime Ministers Hawke, Keating and Howard. At times there was a bit too much politics – we get enough of that in our real life – but I enjoyed the post-war reconstruction years and the social movements. 

I enjoy reading historical fiction so I thought it would be interesting to put together a book snap of some of the Australian historical fiction novels that I have enjoyed that were set within the period we studied, from 1942 to about the year 2000. Two issues immediately surfaced. First, much of my Australian historical fiction appears to be set before the twentieth century, and secondly, anything from the 1970s onwards doesn’t feel like historical fiction to me. I would call it contemporary.

It seems a little strange, actually,  to call the study of Contemporary Australia, history, when much of the course covers events in my living memory. I believe that books written now that are set in the 1980s are considered “historical fiction”! I can appreciate how my grandmother must have felt when her childhood was referred to as the “olden days”. No doubt, many young bright sparks would consider anything before the internet as the “olden days” too. 

Some of the books featured in the snap do start before World War Two, but they  continue on into the 1950s and onwards. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is an Australian classic, a “sweeping story of three generations” who “experience joy, sadness and magnificent triumph in the cruel Australian outback.” The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan is a compelling and confronting story about the trauma experienced by post-WWII migrants, fleeing a devastated Europe for the promise of a new life in Australia. Home by Larissa Behrendt is about family, culture and identity and the impact of the loss of these on the children of the Stolen Generation. The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay, set just after WWII, is a story about “life, loss and what comes after.”

The picture at the back is a print of The Pioneer, originally painted by Australian artist Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917) in 1904 and reflects what probably most people think of when they think of Australian History –  white settlement and the pioneer days. However, Australian History goes back thousands of years, back to the ancient history of Australia’s First People. Over three semesters of Australian History, it is Indigenous History that I have enjoyed the most and that has had the greatest impact on my understanding of what it means to be Australian.

Hopefully this downward spiral will be short-lived and once the exams are over, it will be reading as usual. If you enjoy reading and taking snaps feel free to join in with BookSnapSunday hosted by Sharon at Gum Trees and Galaxies.

Happy Reading

5 thoughts on “#BookSnapSunday – Australian History

  1. I remember seeing The Pioneer at the Art Gallery of NSW forty years ago and was totally gobsmacked. A great smattering of history in your book selection too:) I too am enjoying Indigenous history with a daughter firmly ensconced in Nhulunbuy and involved with community. Five months on and she’s picking up the local dialect and songs 🙂

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  2. Great idea for a post. Love the idea of using the McCubbin painting. There is so much work involved, so much reading, in history at least it is usually interesting but it is still a lot of work. It has been a funny couple of months, I thought I would enjoy the enforced isolation and read a lot too but it has not happened. Always hard when you are also responsible for looking after someone else as well. Australia has done amazingly well in controlling the virus hopefully Dan will be able to get back to some of his activities soon. Good luck with the exams and enjoy the downtime when you get it.

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    • Thanks Sharon. Exams will be interesting this time, being online. Plans are already happening for Dan to get out of the house soon in a slow return to his support program. He will be very excited about that, and so will we! Definitely looking forward to the break.

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  3. I feel you have done amazingly well during this time, so not surprising you haven’t had as much “me” time as you expected. I have been working through so many projects that I haven’t read much either, and most of that has been books I held back from the 800 or so my brother left me. None turning out to be as engaging as I expected. I have all of your suggestions on my ever-increasing TBR Goodreads list, but haven’t got to them yet.
    When I was writing I Belong to No One I was aware I was writing about a social history that is now past-tense historical. How many judgemental attitudes changed in the 1970s! For a similar story, this time by an indigenous writer, you might also like to catch up on Ten Hail Marys by Kate Howarth.

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