Title: Maggie’s Going Nowhere
Author: Rose Hartley
Published: January 7th 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 stars
Maggie Cotton’s life is a hot mess.
In one day, she’s dumped by her boyfriend, disinherited by her mum, and kicked out of the three-year degree she’d stretched to a decade. And that was before she received the letter saying she owed the government $70,000.
But that’s no reason to grow up, is it?
With a decrepit 1960s caravan to call home, Maggie has to prove to her mother she can survive without a safety net, stop her loyal best friend Jen from marrying a scumbag, and convince her sexy workmate Rueben that she’s not a walking disaster. For someone who’s spent her life avoiding hard work, she sure can move mountains when she’s got a little motivation – just don’t ask her to move the caravan.
South Australian writer Rose Hartley’s debut novel Maggie’s Going Nowhere, is an on point novel, capturing the life and times of her underdog lead, Maggie Cotton. An inviting, comical and life affirming tale, this is one summer blockbuster read you will not want to miss!
What do you do when your life is in a state of utter chaos? You purchase a 1960s caravan! On one rough day, Maggie realises she must put on her big girl shoes when she is dumped by her boyfriend, written out of her mother’s will, kicked out of home and issued a final notice by her university. She has also acquired a hefty bill from the government to top it all off. But Maggie handles it as she always has, in her own unique way. She splashes out on a 1960s caravan, which is now her home. Maggie must work to prove herself to her mother, save her best friend from committing to marriage hell and make a difference in her new volunteer role. This is the story of Maggie, the ultimate walking disaster, who is about to shake things up and prove to the world she is worth it! One step at a time though…
After a succession of heavy reads lately, I thought it was high time that I selected a happy go lucky, fun and zesty summer read. Maggie’s Going Nowhere was exactly the type of novel I wanted and needed. It was undemanding and comical, but also very well written and in touch with modern day issues. Underlying this light and snappy read, is the story of a young Australian woman struggling against the system, a battler of sorts, who is incredibly connective. I took Maggie’s Going Nowhere with me to the beach a couple of days ago and before I knew it I had quickly knocked off a third of the book. I followed it up with another couple of sittings at home and I was done! This is a fast paced and expeditious page turner!
I’m sure many readers will immediately find Maggie quite unlikeable. Initially, I disagreed with Maggie’s choices, movements and outbursts. I thought she was immature and ungrateful. I cringed whenever she opened her mouth and interacted with anyone – from her best friend, to her parents and even her boyfriend. I had almost zero care for Maggie’s predicament! But then the book took a diversion at some point and suddenly I did care for Maggie. I felt sorry for Maggie and her plight began to highlight some common issues faced by many Australians. The struggle for a higher education, reliance on parents for financial support, the lack of opportunity in the workforce, homelessness and our flawed government benefits system. Maggie’s story also highlights the stigma faced by those who have been incarcerated and the lack of second chances given to these people. I also had more respect and insight into charity organisations, who are constantly trying to keep their heads above water by relying on volunteers. There are some serious issues covered by Hartley in Maggie’s Going Nowhere.
Hartley is a debut novelist, but her writing shows a great deal of maturity and refinement. Her characterisation was fabulous. Maggie is extremely well presented and I felt like I knew her all over, which was aided by the style of narration adopted by the author. Likewise, Maggie’s mother, father, best friend, love interest and even her fellow co-workers were rendered perfectly on the page. I enjoyed the friendship difficulties, relationship challenges, banter and romance issues that entered the pages of this novel from these characters. However, I must make mention of two special characters that took this book over the line for me. Firstly, Maggie’s dear cat Dot stole the show and as a non-cat lover, I developed quite an affection for Maggie’s feline companion. When the trusty caravan Maggie purchases enters the story, things get very interesting! The caravan definitely becomes a character it its own right.
‘On Nicholson Street, I saw the caravan for sale. It was small and squat and sat low to the ground, shaped like a triangle with the tip cut off. It was made of corrugated aluminum, silver with a green speed stripe all the way around. Sea-foam green, in fact. The same colour as my car. The hand-written sign leaning against one tyre was asking for $1100. And I had $1200 cash in my pocket.’
Maggie’s Going Nowhere is an inspirational and a universal story about a non-standard Aussie battler. I’m sure many of us have faced similar situations that Maggie confronts. We may know, or have known someone a lot like Maggie. Either way, this shameless woman will win you over by the close of the novel. Maggie Cotton is an unlikely heroine, a dark horse who wins the race by the end. In Maggie’s Going Nowhere, Rose Hartley presents us with a lively and alternative contemporary life affirming story, with an Australian twang!
Maggie’s Going Nowhere by Rose Hartley was published on January 7th 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Maggie’s Going Nowhere, Rose Hartley, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Maggie’s Going Nowhere is book #7 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge