“I was born with a reading list I will never finish.” ~ Maud Casey
For someone who loves history as much as I do the study of Australian history was an indigestible meal full of particularly nasty flavours. I'm a picky eater ~ & a picky reader. What I like, when allowed to indulge myself, are those things that are least healthy be it chocolate or coffee, fairy tales & strange fantasy. Plain bread & butter has never been to my taste, certainly not in my reading matter!
My mother, like Liddy, is a realist & it was my mother who often chose my reading matter: Christmas & birthdays & trips to the library when a sick child demanded something to read & yet I often wept tears of frustration over her choices, finding them too dreary for words. Ironically, as an adult, I have found her choices particularly good & have re~read many of the children's books I received with greater pleasure & more understanding as an adult because my mother had a knack for choosing *living books* before that term was bandied about so freely by CM & Sonlight advocates.
Being a compulsive reader I read just about anything that came my way though I was an adult before I learnt to enjoy non~fiction thanks to my search for the *real* King Arthur so I understand my youngest daughter very well; much, much better than she thinks I do. ☺
I inherited my Scots grandfather's rather jaundiced view of the English ~ a view not shared by my paternal & royalist cousins who had more rich Anglo~Saxon blood running through their veins than wild Scots fire. A cursory grasp of early Australian history was enough to ensure my hot Scot's blood boiled fairly quickly at the injustices & sheer stupidity of the early English settlers. I'm not sure I've ever quite got over it but be that as it may I did manage to grasp something of the fear, frustration & courage of the early settlers thanks to my mother's book choices.
Verity of Sydney Town, Ruth C. Williams, was the winner of the Australian Children's Book of the Year Award in 1951. I never did like this book but I was intrigued to find it listed here & here & here as an Australian living book choice. The last one has a short review & in all fairness other people have loved this book but we all know my tastes are a little strange.
I much preferred Elizabeth Wilton's A Ridiculous Idea. This is a book I have always enjoyed though sadly it is out of print now & rarely available even 2nd hand. For starters it is set in the free settlement of South Australia. With so much emphasis put on the convict settlements it is good to be reminded that many Australians are descended from free settlers who chose to migrate for any number of reasons. The other reason I have always particularly liked this book is that it discusses the little known but relatively large Quaker community that settled in South Australia. While Verity of Sydney Town is more *exciting history for the easily bored* A Ridiculous Idea is far more thought provoking & looks at the idea of how God speaks to us, that He speaks even to children, the treating of all people with dignity & respect, & of doing what is right even if the outcome is not what you would want or hope. It is a far deeper book.
Of course for the truly brave there is always For the Term of His Natural Life [Marcus Clarke] but I read this at far too young an age & it really is harrowing. Not recommended for those with a weak constitution!