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Summary

From the winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2013 Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award comes Lucy Treloar's new novel.

Some things collapse slow and cannot always be rebuilt, and even if a thing can be remade it will never be as it was.

In 1855 Salt Creek lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including 15-year-old Hester Finch. Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can, with the few travellers who pass along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed.

Over the years that pass, an Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family. Stanton's attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people's homes and livelihoods and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder. As Hester witnesses the destruction of the Ngarrindjeri's subtle culture and the ideals that her family once held so close, she begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?

©2015 Lucy Treloar (P)2016 Bolinda

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The hook, the interest, the desire, the action

What did you like most about Salt Creek?

That the author invited me to share the experience of the family. I felt I was there even at their grim Sunday worship sessions, the slaughtering of a calf, the mending of clothes. I did resent the time away from listening to this challenging novel. I didn't want to put it down - or switch it off.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Salt Creek?

Mrs Finch meeting Mrs Robinson at Traveller's Rest.

Which character – as performed by Ulli Birvé – was your favourite?

Tully

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Seldom have I cried for joy at the end of a novel. I've listened three times to Geraldine Brooks People of the Book and each time at the end tears come freely. Tears came once again freely and without shame on my part. I even listened to every acknowledgement. What a novel, what a reader, what a story, what an exploration of human relationships and what an ending. An extraordinary novel.

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  • JS
  • 15-07-16

Mesmerizing Australian story; breathtaking narration

If you could sum up Salt Creek in three words, what would they be?

enthralling, satisfying, tenderhearted

What was one of the most memorable moments of Salt Creek?

The desperate, stormy night when a woman in childbirth was transported by rowboat from her remote coastal homestead to the nearest source of help.

Have you listened to any of Ulli Birvé’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Amazing diction, lovely voice, excellent sound engineering too. This is the first time I've listened to an audiobook read by this narrator but I will be looking for others. Ms. Birve read each word with respect and feeling. She captured the gentle, intelligent personality of the main character and the troubled Victorian soul of the family perfectly.

If you could rename Salt Creek, what would you call it?

Watercolor

Any additional comments?

I was so transported by this book that I was often surprised to look around and find myself somewhere other than the South Australian coast. I missed exits. I skipped meals. An otherworldly experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Paula
  • 09-08-16

If You Liked "Poisonwood" You'll Like "Salt Creek"

The narration of this book is superb! I can't imagine anyone doing it better than Ulli Birve! And the story, at times reminding me of Kingsolver's "Poisonwood" is really very good. It touches on so many political, cultural and racial issues of the time as they were experienced in Australia. I found the book very engaging and loved the characters -- all of which were well developed. This is historical fiction at its best. . . a worthy listen, for certain!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful