- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 641 KB
- Print Length: 381 pages
- Publisher: Jazz Monkey Publications (1 July 2017)
- Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B078X1343K
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 13 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #203,634 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Blue Mile Kindle Edition
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‘colourful, evocative and energetic’ – Sydney Morning Herald
‘impressive research’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Why can’t more people write like this?’ – The Age
‘Kim Kelly seems to understand the sounds and scents of the country …’ – West Australian
‘engaging, entertaining’ – Books+Publishing
‘Story-telling is clearly encoded in her DNA…’ – Writerful Books
‘…her skill with language makes for a glorious and engaging journey…’ – Newtown Review of Books
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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Kelly’s prose has a lovely surreal quality to it, possibly brought on by the use of present tense. The tone reminded me of Francis Ford Coppola’s highly under-rated film, One from the Heart, and the recent award clutcher, La-La-Land. And yet there’s something of a classic and straightforward logic to it. The novel’s concern and problematisation of the everyday echoed E M Forster.
Highly recommended. Do yourselves a favour…
The reason I chose the audio book was to make use of my time driving to and from work – trying to cram in as much research as possible.
I was already fairly familiar with the history of the time but still learnt a great deal more. As an insight into the era and the building of a major landmark, it is accurate and absorbing. The Sydney Harbour is itself a link between the two characters. It provides work for Eoghan when finding a job was difficult and inspiration for Olivia’s fashion designs.
The blue mile refers to the stretch of water in Sydney Harbour between the suburbs where the two characters, Eoghan O Keenan and Olivia Greene, live. A world apart in relation to background, financial security and class.
As a love story, it is enchanting. The characters are believable and, although they come from different class backgrounds, are well matched. Little Agnes is a delightful child who has a very grown up attitude to life.
The audio book is narrated by Zoe Ellerton-Ashley and James Harvy. Both of these Australian actors brought their characters to life as well as that of Agnes. James’ Irish accent was delightful to listen to.
I loved the story and its audio presentation and often wished my trip to work was longer so I could keep listening.
I am not a reader of love stories but Miss Kelly has delivered a well-researched historical fiction/love story with characters I enjoyed immensely. It had me totally engrossed. I intend to follow up with reading more of her books.
Top international reviews
Set in the late 1920s and early 1930s in Depression-era Sydney, the book is narrated from two points of view: that of Eoghan O'Keenan, an Irish-Australian man eking out an existence in the slums of Chippendale, Sydney, and Olivia Greene, a lovely young designer who dreams of opening a couture's salon in Paris. The Blue Mile is at once a simply beautiful love story, a homage to a largely forgotten time in Sydney, a story about the way politics impacts upon real lives, and a treatise on class and religious differences.
Seguing from Eoghan (Yo-Yo's) voice and Olivia's, we see the close of the 1920s through their very different eyes. Yo-Yo offers a masculine voice of desperation, ideals and firm work and religious ethics all of which have him fleeing the house in which he grew up, a house which offers him nothing but a bleak and violent future. A man of high principles and gallantry despite (or perhaps because of) his working class origins and abusive upbringing, Yo-Yo takes his seven year old sister, the adorable, Agnes (Aggie) with him, determined to give her what he never had: love, stability and a future.
Running counter to Eoghan's dark tale is Olivia's feminine and whimsical dreams, ones fostered by her hard-working mother who instills in Olivia an unusual spirit of independence and a belief in the power of dreams if only you work towards them. Olivia is the child of a dissolute British aristocrat who, after divorce, ships his ex-wife and daughter off to the antipodes without another thought. Only mildly bitter, Ollie is a kind and talented soul who though she longs for change, also fears its consequences. Determined to achieve her dreams and on her own, she eschews her mother's offers of help and, later of relocation, and forges ahead, earning a reputation some covet and others envy.
But it's when fate brings Eoghan and Ollie together and steers them onto a rocky and unpredictable path that both of them have to make difficult choices, choices that run counter to what their upbringings, dreams, class, parents and God have taught them to expect. Their stories intertwine and collide with heart-breaking, uplifting and calamitous consequences - for Ollie, Eoghan, Aggie and those who love and care about them.
I don't want to say too much more lest I spoil this unforgettable tale except that the way the era is evoked is utterly magical. The phatic language, the everyday patois of the working, middle and upper classes gives the novel such authenticity and veracity as does the sense of time and place. The way Kelly understands and uses history, not in a boring didactic way but to make the story sing is marvellous. She makes the shape of a hat, a brooch, or the collar of a shirt signify an era and those who not only lived but worked through it in ways that are at once clever and lyrical. As the characters walk the streets of Sydney, so too the city comes alive for the reader in all its ugly glory and promise. The Harbour Bridge which, as the book opens, is incomplete is as much a character as the city, but it's also a metaphor for the events in the book: for the span of time, for hopes, imaginings, and livelihoods built, shattered and salvaged. It's a sign of union and unions, of a city on the cusp of transformation, of a new era about to be ushered in. It's also signifies the journey the two central characters make - from opposite sides in every way to some kind of possible or impossible meeting.
This juncture, like that of the bridge, is not without battles - emotional, financial, religious and other. And it's through these that the heart of the book (and the folk that live in its pages) come alive and beats at a frantic pace making it impossible to put down lest you miss one single moment.
A gem of a book that will captivate lovers of history, romance, politics and so many others things besides. It surprised me in the most wonderful of ways - it literally took my breath away and I cannot wait to read more of Kelly's work. Cannot recommend this novel highly enough. It is stunning.