Saturday, 10 May 2014

Book Review: COAL CREEK BY ALEX MILLER

COAL CREEK
BY
ALEX MILLER

Published by Allen & Unwin 1 May 2014
Paperback:  304 pages

Synopsis:

When his father dies, Bobby Blue decides to leave the Mount Hay cattle station where they worked side by side and take a job in town as the new constable's offsider. Daniel, the constable, his wife Esme and their two girls, Irie and Miriam, are new to the western country and, struggling to understand its inhabitants, invite Bobby to stay in a hut on their property where he is educated alongside their daughters.

But there's a simmering tension, building quietly and strongly, beneath the overt goodwill. And when first Irie then Miriam become involved in a dispute that threatens violence, there's an abrupt and ruthless change in attitude from Daniel and Esme towards Bobby.

My Thoughts:

Mount Hay - People of the ranges
The Collins family - People from the coast

Coal Creek is simply told and narrated by an un-educated Bobby Blue who's come to live and work with the new constable and his family in Mount Hay after his father dies.  

Irie, eldest daughter of constable Daniel Collins starts to teach Bobby to read and write and a friendship starts to grow and mature.  

The Collins family are from the coast and are not used to the ways of the Mount Hay community.  
When Bobby's friend Tom is arrested by Daniel for assaulting his girlfriend and sent to prison, on the say so of her aunt who holds a grudge against Ben, Bobby fears he has handled it all wrong and he knew that Ben would want to settle the score with Daniel.  He is a quiet and patient person, if no-one asks for his opinion he doesn't give it, he knows that Daniel is doing things wrong but he figures that he will learn the right way eventually.

Almost from the beginning we learn that some trouble is going to happen and we are awaiting what is to come with bated breath as Bobby slowly unfolds his story of a growing friendship, a lack of knowledge of the people and their ways and Bobby's loyalty to his childhood friend and his new found friendships are tested to the limit.

Bobby Blue's narration is spoken in a child like manner which I felt worked very well with intelligent and wonderful observations of the people close to him.

But you cannot tell another person how to change their ways and I did not try to tell Daniel's wife how she might change herself to suit Mount Hay instead of trying to change Mount Hay to suit herself.  Which I knew she would never succeed in.  The people of Mount Hay was who they was and that was that.  People of the ranges.  And they mostly despised the people of the coast and laughed at them and their peculiar way of going on.

This is not a fast moving, exciting read, it is one to be savoured slowly and delicately and Bobby Blue paints a wonderful scene of the Australian ranges ways and their people.

Source:  I received this from Real Readers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Alex Miller has twice won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Australia's premier literary prize. He is also an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, for The Ancestor Game in 1993.  Coal Creek is his eleventh novel.  He lives in Victoria.

Coal Creek is available at







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