I adored Tiffany’s first novel Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living and have been curious about the mixed and unusual reviews Mateship with Birds has received so I decided it would bee a good novel to kick off my Aus Reading Month. If the unusual reviews are accurate then at least it is relatively short…
Harry is a farmer on the outskirts of an Australian country town in the 1950s. When he is not watching the family of Kookaburras on his property he is helping his neighbour Betty, a single mother. Can love blossom between these two outcasts?
First Impressions: From the first page this really felt like an ‘Australian novel’. Landscape, tick. Flora and Fauna, tick, tick. Country life, tick. Downtrodden and friendless characters. tick.
Highlights: I was really drawn to the glimpses of Betty’s earlier life and would have loved to read more about this character’s backstory. The novel obviously has a wealth of literary merit but unfortunately I just didn’t feel compelled to draw comparisons between Harry’s kookaburra diary and his relationship with Betty’s family.
(Can you get more Australian that that last sentence?)
If I was an editor: Dear me! Is all the detail about genitals necessary? It is the sort of detail a hormonal teenage boy would obsess over but it comes from Harry! He includes it in letters to Betty’s son Michael as a means of giving him advice (and advising himself, aha!) but I think this detail coming from a father figure is rather creepy and would certainly gross Michael out (to use some Aussie slang). Also, don’t get me started on Farmer Mues’ final storyline. Really? I understand that the setting is a sexually repressed rural town in the 1950s but I now wonder if I have missed something and it is actually a satire that has missed the mark.
Overall: Not the most enjoyable start to my Aus Reading Month but I did enjoy writing this review.
Mateship with Birds: 3 stars