Ten Books That Changed Me with Fleur McDonald


Ten Books That Changed Me with Fleur McDonald

It’s hard to choose just ten and it’s hard to remember them all and why that book impacted me!


Tilly and Tessa
‘Tilly and Tessa were twins… they looked exactly…’ I can remember mum sitting on the bed reading me this book, when I was very little. In fact, I loved it so much, I recently bought a copy of it on e-bay! When I was little, both my parents worked pretty hard and there were nights mum was so tired, she’d try to skip a few pages of the book, by turning the pages all at once. The trouble was I knew the story by heart, so she’d never get away with it. I used to try this trick with my kids, when they were little too – they always pulled me up! Can’t seem to get by the littlies who love their stories!


Five at Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
My dad used to travel a lot when I was little and he’d always bring us kids (I have a brother and sister) home presents, when he’d been away for long periods of time.

I remember one trip he brought me home the first in the Famous Five series, Five on Treasure Island. From then on, I was hooked on anything with a mystery or crime in it. I know I wasn’t very old; maybe seven or eight, but I’d always had an insatiable appetite for reading (apparently on my first day of school, I came home very frustrated because ‘I hadn’t been taught to read yet!’), so it wasn’t a challenging novel for me, I could just enjoy the storyline!


Post Mortem by Patricia Cornwell
I picked this book up in an airport bookshop, when I was flying home from agricultural college for the holidays. I’ve never been so frightened and so captivated by a book – it was my first insight into forensic pathology and murder… And I LOVED every word. I didn’t sleep for a week afterwards, but I was hooked.


The Poet by Michael Connelly
I don’t know why it took me so long to discover Michael Connelly, but he and Harry Bosch are now my favourite author and character. I’m certainly a little in love with Harry Bosch.

I was going into hospital to have a large operation just as I was turning thirty; I’d been told I be in hospital for perhaps a couple of weeks, so I’d been raiding my local book shop looking for books to take with me. Then I came across a three-in-one book of Michael’s, one of which was The Poet.

The twists and turns in that book, is impressive and even though I read crime mostly, I still didn’t see the end coming and to me, that makes the best, ever book.


Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman
I’m not sure how I discovered Kimberley Freeman’s books. Perhaps it was because I knew the author, who uses a penname, or maybe it was the beautiful cover. Anyhow, however it was, I’m glad I did, because I’ve enjoyed her other novels too. But how can you not love a book, (SPOILER ALERT RIGHT HERE!) in which a lower-class woman wins a large farm by playing cards?


Jillaroo by Rachael Treasure
This book has had the biggest impact on me than any other. It gave me a writing career. I was given Jillaroo as a Christmas present one year when both my children were tiny. There’s only thirteen months between my kids, so life was a constant roller coaster of screaming, dirty nappies and sleepless nights. I had read a book in many, many months but when I opened the cover, I was lost in a world I knew very well. Jillaroo made me realise people loved our stories and there was a market for them. As a farmer, I placed in a great position to be able to tell stories of rural Australia, and, having never been short of imagination, it didn’t take me long to come up with an idea. I also realised from that book, it was the small details which make a book authentic and I’ve tried to use that in all of my books.


The Pelican Brief and The Firm by John Grisham
Now when I say what I’m about to, you have to understand that I come from a tiny little town in South Australia where everyone knows everyone and their business and nothing exciting ever happens and if it does, the worst it could be would be the local mayor being picked up for DD. Then I lived one hundred kilometres out of Esperance. I was exceptionally naïve to the way of the world… So, these two books were my first experience into corruption and the way people would own and kill for their own benefit. Patricia Cornwell’s books tell of murder and mayhem, but the killer is usually just that, a killer for no particular reason other than he/she loves to kill. Grisham opens up a whole can of worms. Ones which left me thinking there was no way, surely, anything like that could happen in real life, but WOW, what an incredible story! Sadly, I’m much older and wiser and understand these two aren’t just stories…


Love, Anthony by Lisa Genova
Have you ever read a book when you find yourself nodding at every conversation and description? I picked up this one because the blurb told me it was about an autistic child. My youngest son is autistic, and I’m always intrigued to read novels with a theme like this running through them. And that was how I found this one. Genova, if she hasn’t had experience with an autistic child, does incredible research. I remember finding the ending wasn’t fantastic (is there anything worse, where you’ve loved the entire book until the last chapter?!) but there was so much in it I could relate to and loved that it would make people who haven’t experienced children with autism, understand, I was happy to forgive the ending!


A Fortunate Life by A B Facey
My papa used to sit in a chair near the fire, tap out his pipe, then refill it, before putting a peppermint in his mouth and say: ‘I’ve led a fortunate life.’ At the time, (I was probably only five or six) I didn’t really know what it meant, so when, in year 12, I saw we were going to study this book in English, I was pretty excited. Maybe this book was my forerunner into rural fiction, even though Facey’s book was autobiographical. I’ve always loved Australian history, so read about a young man making his way in early Australia was fascinating. It helped me understand why my grandparents never wasted anything and were always prudent with money. (not just the boring: ‘Fleur turn the light off.’ Or ‘In my day you’d eat everything which was put on your plate.’) I think (at the risk of showing my age) there are many teenagers today who could learn a lot from this book.




Where The River Runs
Fleur McDonald

In the tradition of the acclaimed Red Dust, Where the River Runs is a brilliantly told rural story of long-held family secrets by an author at the forefront of rural fiction, Fleur McDonald.

Ten years ago, thirty-year-old Chelsea Taylor left the small country town of Barker and her family’s property to rise to the top as a concert pianist. With talent, ambition and a determination to show them all at home, Chelsea thought she had it made.

Yet here she was, back in Barker, with her four-year-old daughter, Aria, readying herself to face her father, Tom. The father who’d shouted down the phone ten years ago never to come home again.

With an uneasy truce developing, Chelsea and Aria settle into the rhythm of life on the land with Tom and Cal, the farmhand, who seems already to have judged Chelsea badly. Until a shocking discovery is made on the riverbed and Detective Dave Burrows, the local copper, has to tear back generations of family stories to reveal the secrets of the past.

Chelsea just wants a relationship with her dad but will he ever want that too? Or will his memory lapses mean they’ll never get that opportunity?

Allen & Unwin Australia

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