'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Review: A Waltz for Matilda

Australia, 1894.

A time of drought, of establishing life in this new country, a time of great change.

Not yet one nation, Australia was merely a number of states sitting side by side. It was a land where anything went; men could be forced to work long hours for the bare minimum, children could be taken from school and forced to work, and racism did not exist - people being treated not just differently, but inhumanely, was simply a fact of life.

Moving into the twentieth century was an intriguing time for Australia - a world so different from the one we now live in, and one that Jackie French immerses us in completely.
This is the story of one young girl, Matilda, who is left alone when her mother dies. Instead of giving in to the life everyone thinks she is destined for, a life of virtual slavery and bare survival, she runs away to find the father she has never met.

Her father is not what she expected, certainly not the man of her mother's romantic stories - yet the two find a bond. And, just like that, Matilda is devoted to this wide, brown land.

The years ahead are a combination of survival, love, hardship, heartbreak, and finding herself as a young woman. Matilda, with help from surprising sources, learns to live from the land and become an independent, self-sufficient woman in a time when such a thing was far from the accepted norm. She must learn who to trust and, more importantly, who not to trust, in a world that wants to take advantage of her supposed vulnerable state.

French has used her passion for Australian history to create an authentic world that is so interesting to know more about. More than that - the early days of our country are so important for Australians to learn about. The brutal ways in which people lived, the battles they fought to win the rights we now enjoy, and the shaping of our nation, are things we all need to know.

This is a stunning saga that takes us through a time in a young woman's life when she is learning and yet teaching others around her - as was this country.

A novel that is not to be missed.

Title: A Waltz for Matilda
Author: Jackie French
Publisher: HarperCollins, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 December, 2010
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780732290214
For ages: Young adult
Type: Novel

This book is available online


  1. This book is the best book I have ever read in my life. I could not put it down and my friends kept telling me to put it down. I cried for part of this story as many of her loved ones die. Recommend it to anyone and everyone. 5 star rating

  2. Wow, what a beautiful affirmation. She's a very clever writer, our Jackie. :)

  3. This book just took me away on the adventures of our dear and belovid Miss O'Halloran. Jackie French made me feel as if I was right beside this character that over the cource of the book we have come to know and love. This is now one of my favourite books and would strongly advise others to pick it up and become engrossed in the dramatic, yet invighting story line. Words alone can not sing the joy, drama and delight that the reader experiences. Beautiful, somehow magic.

  4. Everything ended in a happily ever after, after the deaths and hardships Matilda O'Halloran went through for all those years. One of the most awesome books I've ever read, and I love that she ends the book with Tommy.

  5. This was a very very very very good book. Sometimes I felt like crying for Matilda because of all the hardship she's been through. I mean, can you imagine losing your mother, father, aunt, fiance,best friend(in a way)and an aboriginal lady you didn't know who turned out to be your great-grandmother?! On me, that would make me feel there's nothing worth living anymore. How did she deal with it??? But all in all a terrific story full of emotional ups and downs for the characters AND the readers.

    THANK YOU Jackie French for writing such a wonderful story for readers of all ages.

    Hollie Dance 12 Yrs old

  6. BEST book I have ever read by far. you cry, laugh, and feel her pain and drought and fire rips through her land. She is such a strong person, and I would love to have even 1/10th of her personality traits!

  7. I would not have had the courage to keep on going after losing so many loved ones


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