Book Review by Jill Smith©Aug20
Title: Patrick White
Author: Toni Brisland
Illustrations: Anastasia Popp
This is a beautiful book, eloquently written by Toni Brisland, for upper primary children aged 8 to 12.
Patrick began life as the son of wealthy Australian property holders who were in England for his birth, on 28th May 1912. His ancestry is explained as his grandfather White had come from Somerset England to Australia, where he became a man who looked after sheep and lambs. As a child, he lived in a house called ‘Lulworth’ in Rushcutters Bay, with his parents and sister.
As a sickly child, unable to participate in sport, Patrick spent his time reading and writing letters. His parents encouraged him to write believing he was a genius. His boarding school in England was not a happy time for him. He was bullied and felt it was like a jail sentence. However, he loved the Theatre and wondered what he would be when he grew up.
When he returned to Australia he began work as a jackaroo on different properties gaining a love of country life. He always felt different because he sounded like an Englishman and wanted to talk about theatre, art, and writing, not sheep, property, and sport, unlike his workmates. He decided he wanted to be a writer.
He went back to England to start his career. He wrote stories about small Australian towns and his friend De Maistre influenced his choice of story and painted the cover of The Aunt’s Story, which has been on the curriculum for Advanced English for the Higher School Certificate.
When World War II began, Patrick became an Intelligence Officer because he spoke several languages, including German, he could collect information from letters, diaries, and technical documents he translated.
After the war, he returned home with his friend Manoly. His asthma returned and he became depressed and almost gave up writing. Fortunately, he continued to write prolifically, which is outlined in a selected Biography at the end of the book, along with his notable awards and a timeline of his life.
In 1973 Patrick White became the only Australian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Winning this prize was a great honour for a man who doubted his ability and sometimes felt unappreciated, or ‘at odds’ with the world. He was extremely proud of receiving the Nobel Prize.
The illustrations are images of a quiet man in a rural landscape, an artist who becomes engrossed in his work, wondering if anyone reading his words might appreciate his efforts. Anastasia has perfectly complemented Toni’s succinct words about Patrick White.
If like me, youngsters reading this book, are inspired to believe in themselves and take the initiative to read Patrick White’s letters and find out more about this remarkable man’s life, work and achievements. Perhaps they will dream of being writers and start the journey to achieve their goals and aspire to become Australia’s next Nobel Prize winners.
This review is part of the ‘Patrick White’ book campaign with Books On Tour PR & Marketing (www.booksontourpr.wordpress.com).
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