• Title: The Shiralee
  • Author: D'Arcy Niland
  • ISBN: 9780143204732
  • Page: 331
  • Format: None
  • The Shiralee Everyone has their cross to bear their swag their shiralee and for Macauley walking across New South Wales in search of work it is his young daughter who has to suffer his resentment at having her
    Everyone has their cross to bear their swag, their shiralee and for Macauley, walking across New South Wales in search of work, it is his young daughter who has to suffer his resentment at having her in tow But then, he discovers that the ties that bind can be as much a comfort as a burden, and what he thought of as his Shiralee could be the one thing that will save hEveryone has their cross to bear their swag, their shiralee and for Macauley, walking across New South Wales in search of work, it is his young daughter who has to suffer his resentment at having her in tow But then, he discovers that the ties that bind can be as much a comfort as a burden, and what he thought of as his Shiralee could be the one thing that will save him from himself.This classic Australian novel perfectly captures the spirit of the bush and the tough, resilient people of the outback.

    One Reply to “The Shiralee”

    1. Published in 1955, The Shiralee is a classic of Australian literature. I really enjoyed reading it because of its quality. The term 'shiralee' is a vernacular word for a swag, a bundle of possessions and bedding rolled up and secured with a rope or belt, and slung over the shoulders. In the story, the father refers often to his child as a second swag that he has to carry.The main character, Macauley, is a bit of a rough diamond, and viewed with today's perspective might be seen as a bit of an Oc [...]

    2. It’s probably twenty years since I first read The Shiralee which was released in the 1950s but the narrative still captivates and it’s been a joy to re-read. A shiralee is a swag, a burden, and in D’Arcy Niland’s novel, Macauley's is Buster, his four year old daughter. In the novel Macauley takes the child to spite his wife after returning home to find her in bed with another man. Unfortunately for Macauley his expectation of his wife coming after him to beg for the child’s return does [...]

    3. I was surprised that I liked this book so much. It was first published in 1955 and it is a real Australian story. I have recently moved to the country and it was interesting to read how it was back then. I picked up some more Aussie slang and read it in two days!

    4. Picked this up in Mr. B's Book Emporium, a marvelous bookshop in Bath, England where the store owners have started their own publishing house resurrecting out of print books they have a particular fondness for. Called one of Australia's great novels, The Shiralee is similar to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men with the lead characters being a vagabond father and his daughter, the Shiralee or "baggage" of the title. Like Steinbeck's novel it presents an authentic view of world most of us will never see [...]

    5. This is surely one of the best books I have read this year. An Australian classic. It truly captures the warm feeling of the land in Australia and was wonderful to be taken on a journey through so many New South Wales towns I have visited myself. The main character Macauley is a hard character to like, though his thoughts are honest and he always "calls a spade a spade". I love this passage:Marriage! What the blazes! Where'd you get the idea I as going to put the bit and bridle on you? God Almig [...]

    6. This book began my love affair with Australia. Macauley is a wanderer. It's in his blood. He takes off for months at a time wandering the dusty interior trails of Australia. This book relate encounters and episodes in his life. You couldn't quite call them adventures. At first meeting, the character isn't very reader friendly. Returning after a long road trip to find his wife in bed with another man as revenge he takes their only child and disappears into the outback. The book deals with their d [...]

    7. For me this author, along with Patrick White, Ruth Park, Evan Green and Dorothy Hewett, were my jumping off point into Lawson and essentially Australian writing. In 1980. As a newly arrived academic 'temporary' visitor to Australia, other authors and playwrights were highlighted by Currency Press. Since then not only has Australian authorship grown but so has my own knowledge of Australia and its many faces. These books remain quintessentially and authoratatively, Australian. Insightful and esse [...]

    8. A very good novelette about Macauley, a 35 year old wanderer and his relationship with his 4 - 5 year old daughter. A quick read. The descriptions of life in outback Australia in the 1950s are a pleasure to read. Whilst he is a wanderer, he is a stable character with some very good friendships formed over the years. His wife, Marge, only saw him for six months out of their five year marriage and ends up with another man. Macauley takes their daughter initially out of spite but grows to wanting t [...]

    9. An easy to read story. It was really a story about revenge. He took the child to spite his wife and then made her trudge around the country like a man. He certainly didn't deserve the devotion he got from her. Then again out of spite, after he had started to become attached to the child the wife took her even though she didn't even want her. What a crew, Social Services would have a field day. That little girl would surely grow up to be one tough woman.

    10. I recommend this book as one to curl up with on an afternoon where you just want to be entertained, but not in an entirely unworthy way. A sweet Australian father-daughter story. If it's a not a hollywood movie, it could easily be one, as it has those sort of typical good/bad characters, and a brilliant setting in the Australian outback and peppered with small town characters, a court case, the occasional action scene and lots of heart.

    11. Not a children's book.This is the story of a masculine existence, including frank passages about sexual abstinence.The TV mini-series, now about 30 years old, focussed on the innocence and charm of the child Buster, and the challenges her father had in maintaining his both his itinerant manual-worker reality, and upholding his responsibilities to her.That's all in the novel - but the sense of loneliness and directionless life is more profoundly explored. The book is about the man, Macauley, and [...]

    12. Macauley has always had a reputation for being a bit of a ramblin' man, the rough & tumble drifter type, traveling all over New South Wales, going wherever the jobs are. Now 35, he still struggles to stay in one place any serious length of time but now has the added complication of having his daughter with him, his "shiralee". Shiralee being an Aboriginal word translating to "burden", Macauley's 5 year old daughter, who just goes by the name of Buster, is the result of a brief marriage that [...]

    13. A book first published in July 1955, the month after I was born! Buster, a four year old girl snatched from a negligent mother by her father, starts life on the road with her dad, Macauley, a man she barely knows. Taking Buster to get even with his wife backfires a little and Macauley finds his feelings change as he gets to know his daughter who is now a little burden, his responsibility, his shiralee. Life on the road is not much suited for a little girl, and as a man with a quick temper he fin [...]

    14. 'The Shiralee' was originally published in the 1950s, but I read this newly released edition from 'Fox, Finch and Tepper,' a local-to-me new publishing house that concentrates on bringing older books back to the public eye where they deserve to be!This was a book chosen to read for book group; I have to admit to going in without an open mind, assuming that I wouldn't enjoy it. (Not good I know!) It just sounded unrelentingly bleak and possibly violent, and the central protagonist didn't seem lik [...]

    15. Oppressed by the “captivity” of a job in Sydney, roaring in his ears “with its terrible pandemonious laughter”, Macauley returns to his life on the country roads of New South Wales, leaving his wife alone for long periods with their child. He is a stereotype of the macho Australian male, relishing a punch up or a drink with his mates, but he is also a good worker who has no difficulty finding work on sheep-shearing stations, building sites or sawmills. When he catches his wife in bed wit [...]

    16. What did I think of The Shiralee? It is a very fine novel. Niland possessed a short-story writer’s eye for capturing detail that might otherwise pass as mundane or fleeting. It’s not a very thick book but what it lacks in size is made up for in weight. I laughed and wept and genuinely felt a little sad when I finished it, simply because there were no more pages to turn. Niland was a very good writer, as was his wife Ruth Park, whose Harp in the South trilogy, set in the slums of Sydney and p [...]

    17. Marvellous, and in many ways!In places this was poetry, poetry of words, the lovely modes of speech of NSW Australia in the 1940s (or whenever it was set, I wasn't entirely sure), of landscape, and of narrative. It wasn't quite stream of consciousness, but in places nearly so, with a very effective absence of straightforward sentence structure.It does tell, as the publishers proudly say, the story of a man brought to a deeper level of self-knowledge by his young daughter (I hope that aspect of b [...]

    18. I think I first read this when I was too young to really understand most of the story and character development, I just found it lying around out house somewhere and started reading because it seemed so intriguing, which it is. Now that I'm older and I get it, I realize that it's a fantastic book that does an amazing job of depicting the rugged, dusty life of a wanderer and the outback, and a time and way of life in Australia that not many of us remember any more. It's beautifully well-written a [...]

    19. In this novel Niland showed that he had a real empathy with people and created believable situations and characters. He described things succinctly and beautifully, and didn’t describe umpteen irrelevancies just for the sake of it. He used an Aussie vernacular that was spot on for its day (1930-50s). But… despite it being a good novel, I didn’t really like it. It’s a personal thing. The novel dates from a time when every white Aussie male was brought up to believe that Australia is the w [...]

    20. Quite simply one of the best books I have read for years. Unputdownable, yet so delicious you want to savour it.Beautifully written. Wonderfully descriptive, the story played like an HD film in my head. The characters, while not always likeable, are well developed and three dimensional. The relationship between the four year old 'Shiralee' and her dad is so well done. I felt the emotions as the story progressed.It is not predictable and I felt sad as I neared the end , not wanting to finish.The [...]

    21. I really enjoyed this book. I read the beautiful new edition published by Fox Finch and Tepper. This is a book of its time and very strongly of its place. Mac the swagman is a brute, yet I felt allegiance to him. The relationship between Mac and his daughter, his Shiralee or burden, is sensitively written. He seems open minded and accepting of the male characters he meets on the road and he tries to do the right thing by people. However, I could not truly like Mac as there are some pretty repuls [...]

    22. Loved this book. I liked the insights into Macauley's thinking and felt his character was brilliantly realised. The description of life back in the depression era was very evocative and can still shock. Although it's an era long gone and I'd never have survived, reading this I still felt a strong yearning for a such a life on the roads, travelling the wide open spaces of this amazing country. I thought it was well written and very readable. I wonder how the younger generation and non- Australian [...]

    23. I really enjoyed this story of a man learning to love his daughter. Originally he had taken her out of spite to get at his wife and rather sadly for the little girl his plan backfired as she was glad to have got rid of her. However the little girls unfailing love for her father wins the day. It is beautiful writing, I felt that you could imagine the two of them making camp and wandering Australia looking for work, the little dusty towns. The swagman network also came across well. Wonderful and h [...]

    24. The writing (and the story) were quite beautiful, but I struggled with the pace of it. Perhaps I have just been reading too much modern crime fiction (the kind that make you flip pages with a fervent abandon).

    25. MacCauley is a 35 year old itinerant labourer who picks up his four year old daughter to go tramping with him around NSW after finding his wife with another man. He gets into a few pointless fights and meets an assortment of old friends and girlfriends. The television mini-series set it in the 1930s and this is probably more accurate than the author which set it in the contemporary era (1955). The ideology of the novel is very much in the style of the 1950s though.

    26. As the back cover of the Penguin classics states: A moving portrait of fatherhood, told with gruff humour and a gentle pathos - it's a gem of a book which lingers in the psyche - I was sad when I came to its end. The author portrays Australia's country roads with deep insight and understanding. Fell in love with the book as I did with the film 'eons' ago - the story manages to capture your heart.

    27. Eh, not amazing, and fairly predictable. Entertaining enough, but basically if you’ve seen “Paper Moon” and can imagine it set in Australia, you don’t really need to read this book.I've also written a longer review for my blog, Around the World in 2000 Books.

    28. Fantastic book. It's definitely not politically correct which jars a bit, but it's a book of it's time. People like Mac just don't exist anymore, and Buster is hilarious! I barely remember the movie, and was glad I didn't know how it was going to end, but will have to go look for it again. Beautiful!

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