#aww2018 · 2018 Reviews · Australian · book bingo · memoir

#Book Bingo 2018: ‘A memoir’ – The Country Wife by Anne Gorman

bingo card 2018

#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite blogger, Theresa Smith WritesHow does it work?  We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting Theresa Smith Writes.


My fifth #Book Bingo 2018 entry is ‘A memoir’. From time to time I like to mix my reading genres up and I often turn to non fiction books or memoirs. I couldn’t resist selecting a memoir about an influential Australian woman to fulfill the memoir category of book bingo. The Country Wife has been languishing on my bookshelf for some time, so book bingo offered a fantastic opportunity to finally discover the life of Anne Gorman of The Country Wife.

Synopsis:the country wife small.jpg

When she is five, Anne Gorman’s family disintegrates. After thirteen pregnancies and the death of two children, her devout Catholic mother has a breakdown and Anne and her sisters are placed in a convent.

Struggling to survive a childhood marred by fear and uncertainty, Anne sees education as her lifeline to freedom. After graduating from university, she’s set to take on the world.

But her plans come unstuck when she falls in love. Marrying a farmer and becoming a mother of five was a life she never imagined. Yet in this alien landscape she finds love and a sense of belonging.

When her husband becomes gravely ill, Anne has to find the courage to keep the farm and her family afloat.

Against a backdrop of dramatic historic change, from the shadow of war to the rise of feminism, an uncertain young girl grows into a woman of substance.

My review:

The Country Wife is a down to earth Australian memoir that chronicles decades in the life of Anne Gorman, a city girl turned true blue country wife. Inserting snippets of world events that defined the era in which she is recalling, Anne’s transformation into a wife, mother, career women and rural property owner is quite remarkable and a story well absorbing.

The Country Wife is a linear journey that takes us directly into the life of Australian woman Anne Gorman. This heartfelt memoir opens at a pivotal moment in Anne’s life. When she was only five years old, her mother suffered a nervous breakdown. As Anne was one of eleven children, her father was unable to cope with the heavy burden of caring for such a large family alone. Anne and her sisters were sent to live in a convent as a result. Despite this difficult chapter in Anna’s life, she rises above it all and succeeds in gaining a ticket to freedom through her achievements in education. Anne gains a university degree but her plans to take on the world are disrupted by a chance meeting with a man who she falls in love with. Anne marries this man and together they form their own family unit of five children. As he is farmer, Anne must learn the ropes of both motherhood and what it means to be a country wife in the harsh Australian landscape. Life moves along until it hits a stumbling block. With her husband diagnosed with a terminal illness, Anne must rise above the challenges put in front of her and manage the family farm alone. While Anne makes the transformation into a fully fledged woman of the land, she witnesses great upheaval in the society around her. From the depression, to the war, political change and sexual revolution, this is a fascinating personal tale.

Every now and then I feel the urge to explore a memoir. The Country Wife first caught my attention due to the lovely homely feel cover, it is quite glorious. Initially I thought this was one woman’s experiences as a CWA wife. The CWA does receive a mention, but this memoir does offer much more.

The Country Wife is a heartfelt memoir that initially begins as a coming of age tale of the author, Anne Gorman. We first learn of Anne’s fascinating family history. As the eleventh child of a devoutly catholic family trying to make ends meet in the depression, I was  moved by Anne’s upbringing. I felt much sadness when Anne’s mother, stressed by so many pregnancies and poor health, eventually succumbed to a mental breakdown. When Anne and her sisters were placed in the care of the nuns of a convent I felt just awful for her. This was clearly a defining moment in Anne’s young life. Anne then recalls other unfortunate moments that defined her childhood, such the loss of her father and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother.

Life looks up for Anne when she dedicates herself to her studies and the result is the attainment of a university level education. Just as Anne plans to spread her wings, she falls head over heels in love with her husband. These scenes were touched with gentle sentiment. Anne’s life quickly changes when she becomes a mother five times over. She recounts the struggles of balancing motherhood with being the wife of a sheep station owner. Life is struggle, but the Gorman’s seem to make it work. When Anne’s husband is struck down with a mysterious illness that is eventually diagnosed as terminal, Anne is tested to her very limits. We witness Anne’s full flight as she takes over the family property, cares for her ill husband, supports her children and eventually forges a career for herself. It is an unforgettable story that had me cheering all the way for Anne’s success. I genuinely hoped she would make it, on all fronts.

Readers will find The Country Wife a very accessible memoir. It is honest, readable, detailed and absorbing. I appreciated the cross references to key moments in history,  as the book travelled through the full years of Anne Gorman’s life. It grounds this novel very well indeed. Above all, I loved the insight into simply becoming a country wife. I even wanted more from these sections!

All in all, this is touching memoir of a very determined Australian spirit. The challenges this amazing woman has faced over the course of her life has served to strengthen her spirit. Anne Gorman’s The Country Wife is a life worth investigating.

The Country Wife by Anne Gorman was published on March 2nd 2015. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

The Country Wife is book #22 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge

 

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8 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2018: ‘A memoir’ – The Country Wife by Anne Gorman

  1. #Book Bingo 2018: ‘a funny book’ – Keeping Mum by Kate Lawson

    After reading a couple of heavy/tear jerky books I was looking for something light and humorous, I was searching my TBR stash and came across Kate Lawson’s book. I gave the blurb a quick squiz and noticed the words ‘riotously funny’ and thought yep, that will do nicely and also was perfect for the book bingo category – ‘a funny book.’

    A brief look at the reviews had me wanting to give the book a flick as most of them were not positive at all and no hint of it being laugh-a-minute either but I’m not one to take notice of negative reviews as I like to make up my own mind and more often than not I have found the books with a low star rating and negative review to be awesome and Keeping Mum was awesome.

    Not an out and out funny book and definitely not ‘riotously funny’ but I did have a bit of a chuckle in some sections of the book. It was such a terrific read I’m ok with not rolling on the floor laughing hysterically.
    Most of the characters were charming especially Cass, the main protagonist, she has an easy going personality which gives the story a light touch, a friendly attitude, and all round nice person, which makes for delightful reading.
    Cass and her friend Fiona belong to a choir and the entire choir head to Cyprus for a contest. I thoroughly enjoyed the amount of drama that transpired between Cass, Fiona and Andy (Fiona’s boyfriend) – similar to watching a soapie but oh, so much more pleasurable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So great to see this review up and thank you for joining in with another game of book bingo Saturday. I’m pleased to see a review up of a category I am yet to decide what I will be reading! Thanks for introducing me to a new author and a new book, despite no delivering huge amount of laughter it still sounds like a fun/light hearted read. Is this a read from the coffee table?

      Like

      1. Once again you’re so very welcome, Amanda. Book bingo is helping reduce my coffee table pile which is soooo good. And yes, Keeping Mum was taken from there.
        I’m looking forward and excited in seeing what you’ll choose for the ‘funny’ category. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

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