Monday, 21 March 2016

Book review: Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett

How entertaining can a novel about a whaling family in a tiny community in Australia be? The answer, I was pleasantly surprised to learn while reading Shirley Barrett's debut Rush Oh! is very.

Mary Davidson, the oldest daughter in a whaling family in New South Wales, chronicles the difficult whaling season of 1908. Drama, misadventure and first love all feature in Mary's telling, as do a pod of whales who align themselves with Mary's father and his crew of whale hunters.

First off, I didn't expect this novel to be funny, but it really is. It's full of little laughs, and that's all down to the wonderful protagonist. Mary's retelling of the season of 1908 is charming, her voice a little like a grown up Anne of Green Gables. Mary is slightly naive, and wonderfully forthright in most things. Her honesty about her family, about the people in her community, and about her feelings for John Beck, the newest recruit in her father's crew, is by turns poignant and hilarious, and always straightforward even when nothing else in her life is. Mary is an optimistic, lively, independent female, who very rarely lets life bring her down.


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