April is Aussie Author Month, and book bloggers around the country – readers, reviewers, booksellers and authors – are celebrating the rich diversity of Australian books.
I’m very proud to have joined the ranks of Australian authors, many of whom I’ve held in awe through my reading life, way back to my childhood. So, I thought I’d use Aussie Author Month to highlight some authors, past and present, whose books I’ve loved.
First up, a classic from my childhood: Ethel Turner’s Seven Little Australians, originally published in 1894, and continuously in print since then. The ABC made a 10-part miniseries of this in 1973, and I loved it. We watched it on TV, and then during the school holidays the National Library showed an episode a day, and my sister and I travelled into the city on the bus every day to watch it again. There were a fair few youngsters who did the same thing – this being long before videos were around; if it wasn’t on one of the two TV channels, there weren’t many other options.
Part of the series was filmed at Lanyon homestead, south of Canberra – an area I knew well, even back then. So it was wonderful to see the story set against familiar landscapes on TV.
I read the book after watching the series. Despite it’s vintage, it’s a lively book with an engaging narrative style, and a distinctive Australian voice. The seven little Australians of the title are a large and active family; definitely not, as Turner explains in the opening pages, model children. Judy remains my favourite of them; her passion for life, her vitality, her cheek and her loyalty and love for her siblings are wonderfully drawn. And yes, I still cry at the end. No matter how many times I read it, or watch the series, I’m leaking tears and sobbing.
Thank you, Ethel Turner, for your wonderful book.