Subversive Reader Reviews: Georgiana (AWW2013)

Book reviews and AWW posts can be found here.

AWW2013 – Book 12


Adventures of a Subversive Reader: Georgiana

Libby Hathorn
Children’s Historical Fiction

Library Book, Moreton Bay Regional Libraries


Georgiana is a historical fiction about the real life botanist and early Western Australian settler, Georgiana Molloy. It follows her journey, and the journey of another family who is settling along with them, as they travel to Western Australia, soon developing the town of Augusta. Although it briefly goes into her time near the Vasse River, most of the book concentrates on her time in Augusta.

While the subject of Georgiana Molloy is certainly fascinating, I found most of the book very tedious to read. There’s no doubt that it was an incredibly well researched book – but sometimes it felt like I was reading more facts than story. It also slipped uneasily between historical fiction and memoir for a lot of the book, which made it difficult to read, and quite wearing to the reader. I felt like I was constantly being told the same thing about Georgiana, though this did ease up by the end. Additionally, the story of the other family (which I assume was the fiction part of the story) felt quite over-dramatic and at odds with the story of Georgiana and her family.

Georgiana really was a remarkable woman. She took on a demanding role as Magistrate’s wife (and often Magistrate while her husband was away) and set up house in a brand new, challenging settlement. She experienced horrific losses, with one child dying soon after birth and her son dying after falling in a well. She had an extremely difficult time recovering after childbirth, but still managed to become a well regarded botanist. Her story is amazing, and I would love more Australian children to learn about her. Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be the book that will do that.

On a side note, Australia is not particularly good at providing good biographical books about notable people in our history. When we taught biographies to grade 7s in 2012, we desperately wanted to include a number of Australian choices for the students to write about. However, they were extremely limited in the research they could do – confined to websites and books which were incomplete or written for an adult audience. There’s a fabulous series of biographies for children from the United States – the Who Was . . . series – which tells the story of notable people in an engaging and entertaining fashion. It would be awesome to see Australian writers take on a project like this – and it would be a great way to share people like Georgiana Molloy.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s