Mateship with Birds by Carrie Tiffany (Picador)
Mateship is an Australian cultural idiom that embodies equality, loyalty and friendship. (Wikipedia) It also relates to the mating ritual of finding a mate.
Bird can mean both the feathered, winged variety and in slang, a sexually attractive woman.
We meet Harry, a bird watcher, farmer and novice writer, as he milks his cows and roams the fields of his farm. The reader is introduced to Harry’s ‘Observations of a Kookaburra Family at Cohuna’, a telling of the Kookaburra family he trains his binoculars on each day.
While Harry is watching birds, Betty his neighbour has her sights set on him. Betty is a nurse in an old age home; she has two fatherless kids (yes this is important), Michael and Little Hazel and has escaped her past. When Harry tries to teach Michael about sex, this little family of comfort crosses boundaries it never thought it could.
A story that captures your heart from the first encounter you have with each of the characters; one that won’t have you gripped but a story that will make you feel like you had a great workout at gym (but a mind workout).
It seems tedious and dry but this book isn’t for if you looking for a traditional love story – it’s a tough read; the blow-fish sushi of books if you will.
Tiffany’s sketch work of prose and ripply word work was the most enjoyable for me. Her words have a richness that makes her plot, description and characters worth the read. Give it a go if you have the stomach for well written prose!
Read more of Kelly's reviews on her book blog.
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