For some unknown reason, the cover photo just won’t download. 🤬
But the cover isn’t important, as eye catching as it may be. It’s what is between the covers that is the treat…
EXCERPT: Passengers moved along the platform, opening carriage doors and saying their goodbyes. Emily leaned out of the train window. She gave her father an especially pleading look.
‘There are snakes and spiders, and I’m allergic to sheep. Please don’t make me go.’
She knew it was hopeless – the train was due to leave at any moment – but she had to make one last attempt. If nothing else, she wanted her father to feel guilty about bundling her off against her will.
‘Don’t be silly,’ he replied, impervious to her tragic countenance. ‘No-one is allergic to sheep. Fresh air, sunshine and the splendors of nature. You’ve always enjoyed it.’
But that was on her last visit, ages ago. She’d been thirteen then, and knew no better.
‘I can’t go. Mummy needs me.’
She wished she hadn’t said ‘Mummy’ as it sounded immature, and now it was she who felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that it wasn’t about helping her mother at all, but the thought of spending weeks with ancient relatives in the middle of nowhere.
Further up the platform, the stationmaster blew his whistle. Carriage doors slammed shut as her father reached out and patted her arm.
‘Send my love to your Grandmother and the others,’ he said, ignoring her last words. ‘Make yourself useful and don’t be a burden. And don’t forget to collect your suitcase when you arrive at the station. As soon as things are back to normal, I’ll come for you.’
But when would that be?
ABOUT HIS BOOK: In 1944 Emily Dean is dispatched from Melbourne to stay with relatives in rural Victoria. At the family property, Mount Prospect, she finds that Grandmother is determined to keep up standards despite the effects of the war, while Della, the bible-quoting cook, rules the kitchen with religious fervour. If only Emily’s young aunt – the beautiful, fearless Lydia – would bestow her friendship, but that seems destined never to occur. Emily can’t wait to go home.
But things start to improve when she encounters Claudio, the Italian prisoner of war employed as a farm labourer. And become more interesting still when William, Lydia’s brother, unexpectedly returns from the war, wounded and bitter. He’s rude, traumatised, and mostly drunk, yet a passion for literature soon draws them together.
MY THOUGHTS: The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean is a delightfully funny, wry, and touching story of a girl transitioning to a young woman who is packed off from her home to relatives in the country after her mother, who appears to suffer from bi-polar disorder (or manic-depressive disorder as it used to be called), is admitted to a psychiatric hospital for a recuperative stay.
She discovers great literature, and Fanny Hill. She learns about love, sensuality and desire, about hope and despair, and about the consequences of lying. Her uncle, invalided home from the war suffers from PTSD, and her Aunt Lydia who is engaged to a serving soldier, appears to be dispensing her favours elsewhere. This is a summer of discovery for Emily, about life and love, socially acceptable behaviour and impropriety, but most of all about herself.
This is another sterling example of the wonderful fiction currently coming out of Australia.
THE AUTHOR: Mira Robertson is an award winning screenwriter who has also published short fiction. Her feature film credits include the multi award winning films Only the Brave and Head On, co-written with director Ana Kokkinos. The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean is her first novel. She lives in Melbourne.
DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean, written by Mira Robertson, and narrated by Zoe Carides, published by Whole Story Audiobooks. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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