A couple of years ago, my husband and I watched the movie, Rabbit-Proof Fence. Set in 1931 Western Australia, it was based on a true story about three girls who had been ripped from their families and forced to live in a government camp designed for "educating" them. The goal was to prepare them for integration into white society by stripping them of their own culture. The three girls were determined not to let them happen and escaped from the facility and set out on foot in search of home, over 1,500 miles away. It was a powerful and heartbreaking story.
I am not too familiar with Australian history other than what little was offered to me in the American school system, and the movie, The Rabbit-Proof Fence, proved to be an eye opener for me. A seed was planted and my interest in the Australian indigenous people grew.
It was with great interest then that I picked up Adrian Hyland's novel, Moonlight Downs, a mystery set in the Australian Outback with a heroine that is half white and half indigenous. Mr. Hyland's descriptions of the people who live and eke out their livings in the Outback, as well as the rugged land, offered me a more contemporary glimpse at what life may be like in that part of the world. Beauty and harshness all rolled into one.
I spent a good part of the day in the Australian desert with the spirited and tough Emily Tempest as my guide. Her wit and candid narrative made the novel an even more enjoyable book to read. I am looking forward to reading more by Adrian Hyland and visiting again with Emily Tempest. (Review to follow at a later date.)
While I do enjoy spending time in my own backyard, reading about familiar locations and traveling down familiar streets, I also take great pleasure in stepping outside what I know. I enjoy taking in different cultures and lifestyles, experiencing things I might not otherwise have known. Books can take me just about anywhere.
Where to go from here? Now that my visit in Australia has come to a close, I must move on. Will I travel next to Gaza in the Middle East for another intriguing mystery? To Darfur where the people are struggling to survive a continuing onslaught of violence? Or perhaps a visit closer to home is in order, maybe to Manhattan or Wyoming? So many choices . . . So many great books to read.
Where are you going today?