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May 31, 2022


#Novella Thea Astley

by N@ncy


Beachmasters by Thea Astley by Thea Astley Thea Astley

Finish date: 31 May 2022
Genre: novella
Rating: D-
Review: Beachmasters (ISBN: 0140079122)

Bad news:
First few pages…did these pages hook me as a reader by hinting at what lies ahead? No…just a lot of ‘triple-speak” (languages pidgin, seaspeak, French/English)…later in the book “rainspeak and tearspeak”. Mentioning all these “quirky” languages felt gimmicky.
Astlely uses Gavi a 13 yr old boy rummaging around a box of old photos to give us the backstory about his family history that is locked in these Kodak moments. He discovers that he is ‘hapkas’ mixed-race. Not impresssed so far….

Good news:
Pg 64-77: Finally I have found a glimmer of good writing but had read almost 50% of the book before I reached this point. The rebellion from the POV from Headmaster Woodful was good. I did not feel for any of the characters, but finally found an emotional connection with this man. There is a sacrifice he made for the islanders that is apparent and he truly feels for the islanders.
Note: Ashley bookends her story: pg 1 and on pg 185 Gavi and Uncle Narota (instigator of the rebellion) say goodbye at the prison gate.

Bad news:
Page 78 – 174 is a series of chapters highlighting 9 different characters. The idea was to describe the island revolution from their POV’s . Character development was pretty much non existent…beige characters just dipping in and out of the narrative for a brief moment. Still not impresssed…

So disappointed with this story.
I finished it b/c my goal is to read all 15 novels by Astley
I’ve read 12 and it is clear to me that Thea Astley’s first 6 books written 1958-1972 are the best.
After that she seems to … out of steam.

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3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 1 2022

    I wonder if she ran out of things to say or if other things were going on her life later on? You read her bio didn’t you? Was there a crisis, personal, religious, political…?


    • Jun 1 2022

      I think she just ran out of “good material”
      Her early life as teacher (Bildungsroman), her brother as a priest (Catholic Church bashing…) and housewife (satire upper middle class) were all full of potential story lines
      Her marriage was not rock solid…but they stuck together.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jun 2 2022

        That can happen with some writers, I guess, they only have so many stories to tell, then that’s that.


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