Archives for whaling

Book review: Rush Oh!

I didn’t know what to expect from Rush Oh! Whaling is frowned on these days and somewhat gory. But I am so pleased I read it. Shirley Barrett has drawn a setting which comes alive. Australia, New South Wales, 1908. It is the story of Mary Davidson, the daughter of a whaler, it is her memoir of one year in her family’s rural life at Eden. It is not simply a story about whaling. The historical context is so rich, so believable. The first page introduces the vivid setting: Mary’s home with its scent of boiling blubber for five months of the year, the rib cage of a 90ft blue whale sits in the front garden surrounded by jonquils, and a footpath laid with the pulverised vertebrae of whales. In this house in Eden lives Mary with siblings and their widowed father, the famous whaler George Davidson. During the whaling season her father’s whaling crew also live with the family and Mary and her sister cook meals and do the laundry. It is a hard life, harder when the whales do not appear in the bay and the general store will not further extend the credit line. Into this scene
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