#11 The Opal Desert – Di Morrissey

20 Jan
The Opal Desert - Di Morrissey

The Opal Desert – Di Morrissey

Goodreads rating: 3.58 (71 ratings)

My rating: 6/10

Why it’s on the list: I actually won this book from sending off a ‘Woman’s Day’ puzzle book entry. i won about 4 books I believe.

First published: November 1st, 2011 by Pan MacMillan Australia

Genre: Modern Fiction, Australiana, Drama

The Opal Desert is a fictional book surrounding 3 Australian women, in very different stages of life and areas of Australia. The book is separated into 3 sections, one for each women. It begins with Karen, a woman in her mid-40s whose famous sculptor husband dies suddenly, and who’s mother passes soon after. With older step children, and no children of her own, she is now lost as she spent most of her adult life devoted to her husbands work and reputation. A former art student, she decides to get away to the quiet outback of Australia and ends up at the mining community Opal Lake, where she meets the woman who is the focus of the second part of the book.

Shirley is almost 80, and lives a reclusive life in her childhood holiday home in the hills of Opal Lake. After being betrayed by her partner long ago, she has never found the motivation to leave her home. She inspires Karen to start painting again, and with Karen losing her mother, they develop a special bond.

The third woman is Anna, a professional runner from Adelaide who comes to Opal Lake to do some bar work while she figures out what she wants to do with her life. To be honest that is all you really get to know about her, because whilst there is a whole chapter meant to be about her, it ends up being more about Shirley and Karen. Anna seems to be a pretty obsolete character in this book, apart from the fact that she ends up revealing some personality traits of some other characters that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

When I opened this book, I was really apprehensive about reading it. The first paragraph is:

The desert. Red soil, white domed mullock heaps, a landscape scarred by acne eruptions of excavations, the excreta of miners’ enthusiasm and despair. Among the green smudged hillocks, dwellings were burrowed into the hillside. Other barely discernible buildings looked temporary. What was permanent was hidden below.

This made me cringe. It sounded like a book I would have been forced to read in high school, and it totally put me off. I’m glad I persevered though because the rest of the story is nice. It’s interesting, and relatable. However it’s no masterpiece. I enjoyed it because I’m from Australia and I liked reading about the landscape and the places, and when they were talking about Sydney (where I live) it was cool to be able to know the places they were talking about. But to be blunt, I wouldn’t have picked this book had I not won it, and I wouldn’t recommend people from other countries to read it.

I liked the characters and the setting, the story was easy to read, there was a little bit of mystery and wonder about what was going to happen, but nothing extraordinary.

-H-

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