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December 27, 2020


#Fiction The Yield

by NancyElin



  1. Language shapes our thinking.
  2. Indigenous languages see the world in particular ways.
  3. There are three stories:
  4. Poppy Albert – built a dictionary of his language
  5. Granddaughter August –  returned home for his funeral
  6. Reverend Ferdinand Greenleaf – defender of
  7. ….“the decent Natives whom I have lived amongst”


Strong point:  

  1. Each narrative has a distinct writing style…remarkable!
  2. The ways that the author uses words, sentence structure
  3. …and sentence arrangement all work together
  4. to establish mood, images.


Strong point:  

  1. A sentence in chapter 6 struck a nerve.
  2. Thinking about all the people
  3. who have died in USA due to Covid-19.
  4. How the families must now cope with such grief and loss.
  5. …Ms Winch captures the moment for me:
  6. “…And just like that the home became just a house…”


  1. Albert:  40% of the book
  2. What does your this character want in the story?
  3. Determined to answer the call of the spirits (ancestors)
  4. urging him to remember. (Prosperous Mission)
  5. – personal narrative about family  told in the form of
  6. …definitions of aboriginal words.


  1. Rev. Greenleaf: 23% of the book
  2. What does your this character want in the story? 
  3. Determined to set the record straight
  4. …as to what happened at the Prosperous Mission.
  5. Rev. Greenleaf mentions  it was
  6. “not the sentiments that
  7. divided us…but the words.” (pg 148)
  8. Central in the book is the…
  9. importance of the Albert’s dictionary.


  1. August: 37% of the book
  2. What does your this character want in the story?
  3. Determined to honor her grandfather Albert (Poppy)
  4. …and save ancestral lands from a mining company.



  1. To be honest….the book was OK.
  2. I enjoyed  2 narratives:
  3. Poppy’s dictionary and Rev. Greenblatt’s letters.
  4. August? 
  5. Ms Winch writes with great insight of the
  6. unraveling of  August…when exposed to loss.
  7. She has made some mistakes when her
  8. life seems to be careening out of control.
  9. But I felt the “unraveling” was a bit too lengthy.
  10. August keeps  floundering around in their own distress
  11. …until chapter 33 when she finally decides to stay with her family.
  12. The last 9 chapters were full of action
  13. …and August’s new found purpose.
9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 27 2020

    Sounds like I enjoyed it more than you did Nancy. I rather liked August’s story, because she carries the impact on contemporary Indigenous Australians of what has happened in the past. Like Kerrie in Too much lip, she plans to return for a short time and escape again, but becomes drawn into her home, her country, her culture. I liked that.

    However, I do like much of what you say about this book. I particularly like that very early on you made that point that “language shapes our thinking”.

    • Dec 27 2020

      Sue, I read each narrative without following the chapters…I followed one voice at a time.
      Both the Reverend Greenleaf’s letters and Albert’s dictionary were just so compelling in comparison with August’s…life story. Ms Winch proves her wordcraft, the art of using words…because she gave each voice a certain cachet, appeal….identity.
      Good point…similarity with Kerrie in Ms Lucashenko’s book…I missed that! I’ll have to remember that theme when reading other indigineous authors. The past, ancestors…they are so important.
      Thanks for you comment on this lazy day between Xmas and New Year….sort of reading limbo.
      Trying to finish the stragglers of 2020…but planning for an exhilarating 2021!

      • Dec 27 2020

        Ah that’s interesting Nancy. I know people do that sometimes. I think when you do that you miss the author’s craft in terms of using aspects of one story to comment on or illuminate the other. So, for example, something Albert says reflects on something happening right now to August.

      • Dec 27 2020

        That’s true, Sue…while reading Albert’s narrative I was suddenly confronted with “Jimmy” the babysitter…Hmmm. No clue that this was a crucial key to the book!

      • Dec 27 2020

        Oh thanks, Nancy, for finding a good example of my comment. I’m lazing in bed (it’s nearly 9am) and was too lazy to get my book to check!

  2. I bought this for my sister in Oz, but not sure it’s engaging enough for her to get into sadly.

    • Jan 6 2021

      The book…you either like it or you don’t.
      I’ve read better….

      • Just finished reading it and I thought it was phenomenal as an artwork and as a legacy to a people past, present and future. There were flaws yes, and August’s story floundered in her indecisiveness, but I think that is part of the consequence of having been severed from your lineage and having a foot in the camps of two cultures, not being sure where you belong or what you can influence.

        I found her story poignant also, having just read Potiki by Patricia Grace, which tells a similar story of a dispossessed Maori family whose home and lands has attracted investors who won’t take no for an answer, it is where colonialism has moved on and capitalism takes it place, having already planted its seeds in the minds of the population.

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  1. 2020 AWW Challenge Wrap-up: Classics and Literary | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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