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My sister highly recommended this to me and although we rarely agree about books or films, I thought I'd give it a try as I'd never heard of Daisy Bates although it seems she is well know in Australia. She was a remarkable woman who went out to Australia from Ireland and reinvented herself and her family history, taking 5 years off her age in the process. Failing in her ambition to marry into the new money in Australian cattle farming and after 3 marriages, all illegal one way or another, she became the first anthropologist to live among and record the language and culture of the aborigines. She also helped to nurse them through the disastrous effects of the white man's diseases and campaigned for aboriginal women in particular, all the time wearing her old fashioned Edwardian dress of high collar and long skirts in the heat of the outback. For a variety of reasons, some of her own making, some because she was a woman and without a formal education, she did not receive any recognition for her work until late in life when she was at best eccentric and at worst suffering from dementia.
So a potentially a fascinating story. However it was a frustrating listen, party because of the shortcomings of the book, partly because of the reader and I could never work out which. The reader has very clipped tones and a measured, rigid style with an exaggerated inflection which does nothing to help the story along and becomes very irritating. Although the writer has not been helped by the fact that Daisy Bates burnt almost all her personal papers at the end of her life, she did not try to describe her character or motivation especially at the times of crisis in her life or to go into her emotional life. I would have welcomed some extrapolations and discussion from what IS known about her rather than having to guess at it for myself. The first part about her life in Ireland was particularly laboured, maybe because it was possible to research accurate information about her family. As a historical biography it falls well short of the mark, but it isn't entertaining enough to be a popular biography either - which must be its aim given its title - but this may be the effect of the reader as much as the writer.
Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed and will learn something at least about a very unusual and remarkable woman. Note too that although I've given it a fairly low rating, my sister would have given it a five star one and the voice didn't grate on her as much as it did on me.
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