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Salt Creek is a real place in South Australia and some of the characters who appear on Treloar’s novel are historical figures. The story however, is fiction.
Set between 1855-1875 the story follows the lives of early Australian settlers, the Finch family – their misfortunes and fascinating times in the remote and harsh landscape of Salt Creek.
European attempts at farming destroy the natural habitat of the first inhabitants – the Ngarrindjeri. The social conscience of these early Australian settlers is soon taken over by the stronger desire to survive in their own terms.
The narrator, Hester Finch, tells the story as a series of flashbacks after her return to England, where despite everything she had to endure at Salt D=Creek, she misses the beauty if the landscape and the people.
I don’t want to write too much about this one – as I don’t want to give too many spoilers away! But this is a very enthralling story.
Four characters living on a remote farm, where they are controlled as the ‘special ones’. They live without the luxuries of modern day life. They are watched 24/7 to make sure that they do not step outside the rules of their world. When they get too big or too old they are ‘renewed’ and a new version takes their place.
Well written and suspenseful, but maybe for a more mature reader.
Ruled by a brutal father and brothers and missing her dead mother, 14-year-old Joan Skraggs runs away from her family’s Pennsylvania farm, makes her way to Baltimore, and is rescued from a park bench by a well-dressed young man. She presents herself as Janet Lovelace, age 18, and becomes “the hired girl,” a servant to the Rosenbachs — a prosperous Jewish family who own a department store. Janet keeps a diary, and the reader quickly gleans that her notions of life come from three books: “Jane Eyre,” “Dombey and Son” and “Ivanhoe.” “I plan to go on as bravely as a heroine in a novel,” she writes. “In my new life I’m not going to be vulgar. Even though I’m going to be a servant I’m going to cultivate my finer feelings. I will better myself and write with truth and refinement.”
Janet, the book implies, may one day be an author. But first, she has to scrub floors, beat carpets, iron sheets and wash dishes while keeping kashrut. She’s a tough and determined protagonist, but also impulsive, a bit of a meddler and an irrepressible romantic hungry for an education. A very enjoyable read giving an insight into jewish customs and ways
Joshua’s football goes over the wall into another place, a place where he is not allowed to go. Being an inquisitive and possessive 13 year old boy he is determined to get it back. A hidden tunnel takes him under the wall, past houses flattened and destroyed. He emerges into a world that is vastly different to his own. Sound familiar?
Of course it does. Children’s literature is full of magical ‘other worlds’. But this is no fairy tale world. The wall Joshua tunnels under separates the occupied territories in Israel from the Palestinian refugees on the other side. The world Joshua enters is full of deprivation – lack of food, lack of medicine, lack of freedom. Vastly different to his world back across the wall in the ‘new town’ his step-father has taken them to re-settle in.
The wall is a story of families, friendships and obligations that survive any such divide. And of course as with all relationships, there can be tragedies. The wall provides a well researched and documented narrative of life in the occupied Palestinian territories.
You can read a review of The wall here