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Book review

October 15, 2020 October 2020 No Comments

A simpler time.

Author Peter FitzSimonds  is remembered by older rugby fans as the fearsome Wallaby rugby forward. These days he is a Sydney Morning Herald  columnist and author of a number of books. His specialty is in taking an Australian historic event or person and explaining it, what happened, where, when and why. 

In A simpler time he describes the breaking in of the difficult land balloted to his father in the 1940s soldier repatriation scheme. Without any mechanical assistance native bush was cleared and an orange orchard gradually established. For the years until the tree matured existing the young family existed on a meagre income from harvesting wild passion fruit found growing on the block and tomato growing . 

These were times when rural work was hard, values were clear and rural folk stood by each other in times of adversity. Children pitched in with the work and while parental praise was understated their love was unstinting. Families made their own entertainment and home life was never dull.

The only sign that this was a community was the  tiny sole charge school which served the district. The nearest established community was the very small town Gosforth 77kms from Sydney and 90 Kms from Newcastle, which was the source of required supplies. However the farms were all self contained producing almost all of their own food requirements. 

Gosforth  is on the road now known as the Pacific Highway but traffic in those days was so sparse that any passing vehicle was noted and riding a bike was quite safe. 

The book covers the second half of the twentieth century.  Peter FitzSimonds is a master of written description, his depiction of childhood mischief, eccentric characters, family fun and dramas, bush fires, droughts and serious accidents bring the times back to life make for an enthralling read. For older readers a rekindling of memories for slightly younger  ones a jolly good read and greater understanding of times gone by. Highly recommended.

The good news that the library has two prints of the book available, one in larger print for we golden oldies. 

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