Sometimes when it comes to reading I join the party fashionably late. It has taken me a while to get around to reading Mateship With Birds but I think it has been well worth it and I am so glad I did.
Last year, author Carrie Tiffany was the inaugural winner of The Stella Prize, a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing. More information about this wonderful and important prize can be found on the website: thestellaprize.com.au
Set in repressed rural Victoria, Australia in the 1950s, Mateship With Birds tells the story of a dairy farmer Harry and his neighbour Betty, a single mother raising two “bastard” children.
It is the quiet rhythm of country life told in Tiffany’s beautiful writing style that I really enjoyed. I actually felt myself slow in pace to keep time with the quirky characters: observing the intimate details of the local bird life; the moods and swings of the dairy cows; and the sometimes bleak and disturbing behavior of each other.
I love character-driven plots, and that is what Tiffany does really well. Be warned though, there is a lot of sex in this book, and not all of it is romantic. The novel is also about birds, and the family of kookaburras that feature has its own story, which interweaves throughout that of the characters.
I came away with a sense that life is guided by the seasons; change is constant, and a reminder that sitting and observing is one of life’s simple joys.
A was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from The Stella Prize organisation. Many thanks.
My rating: ★★★★