What do you know about Australia?
What does any of us really KNOW about Australia?
I know Oprah just invited a ton of people, but not me, to go to Australia.
I know I have wanted to visit it FOREVER, but am going to have to keep saving to make that happen.
I know it as the birthplace of one our BEST friends in the Netherlands, Kylie-- who was such a great mentor to me, such a stellar example of mothering, so much fun to hang out with, and a friend to our whole family while we lived abroad.
I know the other Kylie from Australia, who I didn't realize until living in Europe was such a worldwide phenom.
And I know the Aussie shows that were available in the Netherlands:
- McLeod's daughters (why did they kill Claire off?? WHY?)
- the ubiquitous Neighbours (I can't say it without singing the song. Out loud.)
- and some 80s medical drama that always involved a helicopter (not sure of the title). I was always too distracted by the 80s hair and clothes to get into the show.
I heard about this book from Nomes, who I'm beginning to think of as my own "Minister of Australian Fiction".
She has flooded my To Be Read pile with Australian authors. I am slowly working my way through, and have a couple of Jaclyn Moriarty books in said pile. The first I picked up was Feeling Sorry for Celia.
I liked the book before starting to read it, because I love the name Celia. It was at the top of my girl baby names list... but then I just kept having baby boys instead of girls.
So there goes that dream.
I also have a stack of letters from the mid 1800s written to my ancestor Susan North from her friend Clelia (a name I also like a lot). I have a work in progress based on a mystery surrounding these letters. So the idea of a Celia (or Clelia) and letter-writing appeals to me.
I had no idea what this book was about based on the title. I started reading, finding the text a little distracting at first. It begins as a series of letters from the main character, Elizabeth, or from others to her.
I thought to myself:
as soon as this little letter exchange ends I can really get a feeling for the story...
but the letter exchange didn't end. It never ends.
I am gobsmacked.
This book is so clever! So engaging! I adored it.
Completely told in a series of letters.
The way I describe it may reek of "gimmick", but it never felt that way to me. If it sounds that way, blame it on my weak description. I have read many a gimmicky book, but this (in my humble opinion) was never a gimmick. It just worked, and I can't explain how.
The book stayed true, funny, and endearing.
It was a light read. By that I do not mean superficial, but that there was little in the way of edginess or dark themes. There were some serious moments, but it's not meant to be scary/heavy/or depressing.
I thought it was substantial, and such a delight.
I HIGHLY recommend it.