Rebecca's Book Blog: Book review: Our Australian Girl: Meet Grace by Sofie Laguna
Jamie Grace's career has been nothing short of meteoric. that she is celebrating the release of a new self-created and self-written book, titled, Meet Gracie. Meet Grace Bonney, founder of the popular design blog Design*Sponge. She's also the author of the book, In the Company of Women. meet grace was a book about a girl and she was poor her parents had died and she was staying with her uncle but he had a saw leg she collected things in the.
He looked at Lavinia's slim ankles particularly. Lavinia dropped her skirts to cover her feet. Lavinia took a step back.
The man scratched his stubbly chin with a large hand. Can't say that I can,' he answered. She looked past the big man to see if the others could tell her. Her hand squeezed Letty's tightly. The men all laughed. Letty wished they would stop staring and joking around, and answer the question. She felt uneasy, caught between the men in the room and the darkness of the streets. She remembered how Papa had often warned his daughters against strangers.
But he was not here in Sydney to look after them. That's on Bent Street. They had to return in the direction they'd already come. She had led them the wrong way. Some people are so stupid! If she hadn't chosen the wrong way before, they wouldn't have to go all the way back now.
Lavinia's steps were dragging too. By the time they reached the intersection near the theatre again, Letty's head felt dizzy. Letty was too tired to talk. The three of them plodded on, around the bend. Up ahead was a long, low wooden building. A verandah came down over the windows, like a hat over its eyes. The posts were a bit crooked, like the street.
Or the theatre, thought Letty. She hoped so anyway. Maybe here they could get a safe bed for the night. Away from drunks and dogs and creeping shadows. Lavinia marched up to the door and knocked. Letty could hear laughter inside - high-pitched and happy - women's laughter. Chinks of light escaped the curtains. Letty thought she could smell food, too. She wished she was inside. But what if it was the wrong place?
Where would they go next? After a long while, a woman opened the door, a candle in her hand. She had a hard, square face and was wearing an old nightcap, as if she were going to bed. She held the candle forward and looked at the three of them. I can tell by the smell of you. We don't have anywhere to stay. It seemed as if the whole wide world didn't have a place for her. But she didn't want to give in and cry in front of a stranger.
She fought the tears down. Lavinia tossed her head and straightened her shoulders. I cannot walk a step further. And neither can my sister. Even for the lad, if he'll bunk down in the kitchen.
Letty on the Land Sydney Until the letter arrived, Letty was having a very fine morning. A square of warm Sydney sunshine lit Mary's lace pillow. Victoria's baby smiles lit everyone's faces. For the past two months, Letty had been working in the little house behind George Fry's Bakery. Her job was to help with the housework while Mary recovered from having her baby and the fearful time that had led up to that.
Mary still had silent days sometimes, but she was up and about in her neat red dress, instead of hiding in her blanket. Mary's brother George was very relieved. Although he paid Letty's wages, he did not bother much about tidiness. So really Letty's work was lots of cuddling and talking to the baby. Letty felt like a big sister again. She hadn't been happier since leaving England, months and months ago. George came in from the bakery and handed Mary a floury envelope. Clem was Mary's husband, who lived somewhere in the New South Wales countryside.
He and Letty watched Mary's back. The last letter had made her cry. Then she was wooden and silent for days. Eventually Mary turned around. He wants us to come home now. Not every man's a city toff like you. To Letty, the bush was a dark green shadow on the far shore of Sydney, full of strange beasts and dangers.
She wanted to stay away from it, and she felt a fierce desire to keep Victoria away, too, far from anything that could hurt her. Servants weren't meant to question their mistresses. I'm Harry's mama, too. They need me; and it's where I belong.
Letty knew what it was like to have no mother. She knew what it was like to have nowhere to belong. That was how Letty's life in Sydney had been before George took her in. It was how her life would be again if Mary and Victoria left. George would have no reason to keep employing Letty then. Letty didn't want them to go, but she couldn't stop them. She bit her lip and hunched her shoulders. She looked away from Mary, at the baby wrapped warm and safe in her basket.
Mary sat down beside her. The bush isn't that bad. It stood up like a cockatoo's crest. Letty almost laughed, but she was too choked up. She would miss George as well. Find a wife of your own,' said Mary. Could that be why Mary wanted to speak to Lavinia? George was sweet on Letty's sister, everyone knew. Perhaps Mary thought she'd hurry things along. Mary didn't know Lavinia then, Letty thought. Lots of people wanted Letty's beautiful sister. But hardly anybody wanted Letty.
Mary, George and the baby came along for Letty and Lavinia's Sunday stroll. Lavinia tossed her long curls when she saw George, and made Letty walk between them. They went through the Domain, down to the point with a view of the open ocean.
The world was so vast. Way across that hazy blueness, far out of reach, were the rest of her family. Somewhere on the ocean, perhaps all the way to China by now, was Letty's best friend, Abner. And now Mary and her baby would be leaving Letty, too.
It was like losing her family all over again. Letty felt like a stray seabird, blown out of the nest and off-course by one gust after another. Lavinia gave Letty a searching look.
Letty didn't want to say anything in front of George and Mary. But he doffed his hat to Lavinia and offered Letty his arm. At the top of the hill, they glimpsed the white outline of the building below. I think the view's better back there, don't you? Find out what secrets our sisters have. She and George walked soft-footed down the slope, shushing each other.
They crouched behind a bush where they could hear Mary. What would she do? Lavinia's employer up on Cumberland Street hadn't wanted Letty to work for them. Fear knotted her stomach. She and George leaned forward. Letty didn't know what to think. She wanted to stay by Mary and the baby, but she didn't want to leave Lavinia and Sydney for the unknown.
But - it's so uncivilised out there. Something might happen to her. Victoria gurgled in Mary's arms. Letty wanted to scoop up the baby, breathe in her milky smell and shut out the world. Lavinia loved her, but she was still a nuisance.
She hated to be a problem for anyone. Lavinia went on, 'But she is my little sister. I can't send her into the wilds. The blood rushed into her cheeks. It blew riffles of dust around Letty's feet. It blew grit into her mouth, and into baby Victoria's eyes.
It blew no good to anyone, Mary said. In the first days of November, the paddock grass had faded from green to gold. Letty had watched the tussocks sway on the ridgeline, like ladies bowing in a dance. Then the sheep had eaten the grass into clumps of short bristles.
The water in the creek got low and soupy. Still it didn't rain. The sheep kept eating, until they'd chewed the land down to its bare bones. That was when Letty's boss, Clem Grey, had said their time was up. Letty didn't like to see her shoulders slump like the worn hills of the farm.
So a month earlier, Clem, Abner and the kelpie had herded all but the best of the flock onto the road, and set off for Goulburn. Letty was sorry to see the sheep go.
She'd got used to their baaing and chomping. She missed watching the lambs skipping around their mothers. They were like part of the family. Letty was even more sorry that Abner had gone along to help with them. Mary missed Clem too. Harry did not know what to do without the men or the sheep to follow, so he misbehaved. Harry had accepted Letty as part of the household, but they weren't really friends. He often ran away from her. Letty was looking for him now. It ought to be easy to find him in the empty paddock, Letty thought, but it wasn't.
She didn't want to go in there, because she didn't like snakes. Letty went around the bushes, towards the road. She had a feeling he might be there, even though she couldn't see him.
The thicket of white-blossomed shrubs was one of his favourite places. If Harry didn't think she was looking for him, he might come out to surprise her. He was that sort of boy - Letty could never make him do anything. Letty took a worn letter from Lavinia out of her pocket. She knew it off by heart, but she liked to look at it when she felt lonely.
The graceful, swirly writing reminded her of her sister. Don't come back to Sydney now, it said. Plenty of girls can't find good work here. I suppose I'm lucky, thought Letty. I have a job that I mostly like.
I'd better get on with it. There was still no sign of Harry, so she tried a different trick. Harry crawled out on his hands and knees. Letty grabbed at him as he tried to squirm past. Your mama gets worried. Harry didn't see the bush as strange.
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Unlike her, he was born here. The bush was part of his home. Harry's eyes slid away. Harry gave her a sly look. Suddenly he pointed at the road. She thought he was trying to get away again. But Harry began to wave and yell. Someone stood on the road with the sun behind him. He was waving his hat, and his hair made a flaming copper halo.
Letty knew who that was - her friend Abner. Clem was beside him on his horse, waving too. She let go of Harry. He burst up the hill on short, strong legs. Letty hurried after him, wondering what kind of news Clem and Abner might bring from town. It was too hot to eat in the kitchen. The household ate their damper and jam together on the verandah. Now the sheep were gone there'd be less meat on everyone's plates. And Clem wasn't happy about the price he'd got for his animals.
Letty wasn't sure what Clem meant either. She only knew that tallow was the smelly brown stuff used for making candles and soap, and Mary had plenty of it already. The corners of Clem's mouth turned down.
He seemed thinner, and there were lines on his face tracing downwards from his moustache that Letty hadn't noticed before. Wethers, ewes, rams, lambs - the lot. All slaughtered, then boiled down in iron cauldrons big enough to fit you in. Goulburn stinks like death. And some cove is getting rich, on other men's ruin. But Clem looked at his daughter without really seeing her. Mary looked at her husband with concern.
I swear it, Mary. This is good land; it's just a bad year. I'm going to Sydney with the wool clip, to make sure we get the best price. Between the wool bales was another of Harry's favourite hiding places. Letty had a thought: She didn't think it was a lot to ask. Clem shook his head.
But I'll be taking you and Abner to Sydney with me. I have to lay you off. I can't afford to pay wages anymore. She stared at her boots. Of course, it should be wonderful to see her big sister again. Except that in Sydney Letty would be without a place to belong or a way to make a living. Lavinia would not know what to do with her. Letty thought it would be much better if she stayed with the Greys, even if times were hard. Clem rubbed his chin. Mary looked at him hopefully. Less work, less money and less food to go round.
Letty blinked away tears. She hated the thought of leaving. It made her feel lost and unwanted, all over again. Just when she was happy. It didn't seem fair. Stupid, awful drought, thought Letty. Abner put down his plate.
Our Australian Girl: A Friend for Grace (Book 2)
He didn't ask for seconds like he usually did. If he didn't work on the land, Abner would probably have to go on another ship. He might sail off to China or England. She would lose him, too. We'll all go together and have a proper Christmas with George. Clem looked down at his son.
The year before that -' she glanced across the paddock to where a little wooden cross leaned into the hill. The year before, Letty knew, Mary had had another baby, who died. That obviously hadn't been much of a Christmas. Letty wondered if he missed his family. Harry crossed his arms, just like his father. The new convict can look after our last few sheep. But you realise we can't afford coach seats this trip? It hadn't exactly been a feather bed.
The Greys' cart wouldn't be any worse, she thought. And at least this journey wouldn't be cold. Letty and Mary nodded. Letty giggled at the name. Such a short time, thought Letty sadly. Meet Poppy A few hours later she was awakened by a terrifying howl. Poppy sat bolt upright.
She felt around her. Her eyes adjusted to the dark. In the moonlight she saw a large dog trotting towards the base of her tree. She sat rigid, not daring to breathe as it came closer and closer. If it was a dingo, Poppy wouldn't have been worried. Gus said dingos were more scared of people. But this looked like a wild dog, a very large wild dog. The dog lifted his head and sniffed the air. He stood on his hind legs, resting his front paws on the trunk. Poppy's fingers closed around the hilt of her knife.
Our Australian Girl: A Friend for Grace (Book 2) by Sofie Laguna - Penguin Books Australia
I'm only staying for one night. A low growl came from the dog's throat and he laid back his ears. The notes were soft and tentative at first but then she sang the words. To her surprise, the wild dog dropped to the ground and trotted away. Poppy listened all night for the dog to return.
In the morning, she looked over the side of her nest. Tracks led around the tree, down to the water's edge and back again. She looked up and down the river. Only then did she spot the dog, on the other bank. Surely he couldn't have swum that far!
Now was her chance to get away. She quickly climbed down then stood for a moment watching, the safety of the water between them. The dog was beautiful, with pale grey fur and a proud and noble head. He looked more like a wolf, but how strangely he was acting. He was standing by a partially submerged log, not moving, just staring into the water as though admiring his own reflection. Then suddenly, he plunged his whole head under the surface.
When he came up, he was holding a large flapping fish in his mouth! Poppy couldn't believe it. She watched as the dog placed his paw on the fish and began tearing at the flesh, snapping through the bones. After he had eaten every scrap - tail, head and all- he lay down, panting gently. The dog looked at her but then he pricked up his ears and stared upstream.
It took Poppy a few moments before she heard it too - the soft chug chug chug of another paddlesteamer. Quickly she ran behind the big tree as the boat came into view. It travelled towards her and she saw people standing on the deck. Poppy runs away to look for Gus but how will she survive in the bush?
And will she ever find Gus? Poppy's story, told in four gripping instalments, is a glimpse into life at that time. Rose It's and Rose lives with her family in a big house in Melbourne. She wants to play cricket and have adventures but Rose's ultra-conservative mother won't let her. Then young Aunt Alice, a feisty suffragette, moves in with them and everything changes.
Inlife was very restrictive for women. In most parts of Australia, women weren't allowed to vote, few got the chance to go to university and it was difficult for women to have careers of their own. Girls like Rose and women like Alice had to fight for the rights they felt entitled to. Rose's story, told in four exciting instalments, shows how rebelliousness and courage brought about change, making it possible for Australian girls today to have so many choices.
Nellie — along with her best friend, Mary — is full of dreams for a new life free from poverty and disease. In South Australia, she hopes to get a job, to learn to read and never to go hungry again. Over girls like Nellie took part in the Orphan Immigration Scheme, which transported suitable orphans from the workhouses of famine-devastated Ireland to be domestic servants in the colonies.
Nellie battles the prejudice and limited opportunities that caused the scheme to end after only two years — and yet she never loses hope. Will her dreams of a better life ever come true? Nellie's story, told in four gripping instalments, celebrates the optimism, courage and character that our Irish ancestors have brought to this country.
Alice It's and Alice, a young ballerina, lives with her big family on the banks of the Swan River in Perth. Her father is off fighting in World War One and her mother has a job at a bank. Alice is left in charge, juggling her love of dance with the care of her brothers and sisters. Like so many young men of the time, her big brother, Teddy, faces growing pressure from the town to fulfil his duty and enlist in the army, but has promised Alice that he will stay.
As the war drags on, Alice is drawn deeper into the drama it causes for those left behind to keep the home fires burning. Will life ever return to normal, and will Alice ever get to do the thing she loves most? Told in four exciting instalments, Alice' story shows the impact of the Great War, which touched every Australian home and family, changing lives and communities forever.
She dreams of being a writer, but her strict Italian parents have other ideas. Lina has been awarded a scholarship to a private girls school and she struggles to fit in with the other students there — to Lina it sometimes feels as if she comes from a different world!
When Lina and some of the other students start a school newspaper, it leads to events Lina would never have imagined. And television has arrived in Australia, with people crowding around department store windows to catch a glimpse of this marvellous new technology.