#aww2020 · 2020 Reviews · Australian · book bingo · historical fiction

#Book Bingo 2020 Round 5: ‘About the environment’- Maralinga by Judy Nunn

Bingo 2020 9 may 2020

Book Bingo 2020 is a collaboration challenge I am completing for the third year with my favourite bloggers, Theresa Smith Writes and The Book Muse. On the second Saturday of each month, beginning on Saturday 11th January 2020, Theresa, Ashleigh and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The Book Bingo 2020 card contains a total of 12 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year, with the aim to complete the whole card 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, there is no crossover – that is planned anyway! 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, tagging us on social media, posting in Page by Page Book Club with Theresa Smith Writes  or by visiting our blogs The Book Muse and Theresa Smith Writes.


Judy Nunn’s gripping and thought-provoking bestseller. During the darkest days of maralinga smallthe cold war, in a remote SA desert, the future of a nation is being decided…

Maralinga is the story of British Lieutenant Daniel Gardiner, who accepts a twelve-month posting to the wilds of South Australia on a promise of rapid promotion; Harold Dartleigh, Deputy Director of MI6 and his undercover operative Gideon Melbray; Australian Army Colonel Nick Stratton and the enigmatic Petraeus Mitchell, bushman and anthropologist. They all find themselves in a violent and unforgiving landscape, infected with the unique madness and excitement that only nuclear testing creates.

Maralinga is also a story of love; a love so strong that it draws the adventurous young English journalist Elizabeth Hoffmann halfway around the world in search of the truth.

And Maralinga is a story of heartbreak; heartbreak brought to the innocent First Australians who had walked their land unhindered for 40,000 years…

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Review:

Published in 2009, Maralinga is a story of power, cruel policies, underhanded tactics, injustice and environmental devastation. With undercurrents of romance, intrigue and suspense, Maralinga delivers plenty of consternation as it unfurls a surprising and largely unknown story from our not too distant past.

In the time of the Cold War, the British were conjuring up plans to test nuclear bombs in the face of possible global conflict. A site in the remote South Australian desert environment proves to be fertile ground for the British, who utilise this isolated locale to complete dangerous atomic weapons tests. Maralinga is a male only site, populated by army personnel and top ranking political officials. This nuclear testing site goes about it’s shocking business with no forethought for the local indigenous population surrounding the area, as well as the unique flora and fauna. When British lieutenant Daniel Gardiner is assigned to the infamous facility, he encounters dangerous and underhand tactics. In an effort to speak out, Daniel is silenced by his superiors, who want to keep the business of Maralinga completely under wraps. Daniel’s love, an enterprising journalist named Elizabeth Hoffman, arrives on Australian shores in search of the truth behind Maralinga.

Maralinga by Judy Nunn has sat on my TBR bookcase for far too long. In search of book that would fulfil of category of book bingo 2020, my eyes rested on Judy Nunn’s tenth novel. A recent interest I developed in nuclear energy and testing, thanks to a television series that charts Russia’s nuclear disaster Chernobyl, directed me to a local history of this fascinating but dangerous time in Australia’s past.

Opening with the resounding voices of the local indigenous people that frequent the area of Maralinga, in the sparse surrounds of South Australia, Judy Nunn’s tenth novel delivers a powerful and untold story. Concealed from the public, the Maralinga atomic bomb testing site was a toxic scene, causing undue destruction to the local environment, with no consideration for the local population, nature and the indigenous people of this area. Maralinga traces this time in our history books, bringing to light a destructive period in our past.

Maralinga also inserts the perspectives of a British lieutenant assigned to the site, who gets more than he bargained for when he probes into the operations of the facility. Lieutenant Daniel’s story is compelling and I appreciated his role in the story. There is also a subplot of romance featuring Daniel and his love Elizabeth. The character of Elizabeth is pertinent to this story. This fiery and independent spirit sets off on a tumultuous journey from British soil, to the dusty lands of South Australia. Elizabeth is one determined soul, who relentlessly pursues the truth, putting her life in danger, while defiantly facing up to the higher powers of Maralinga.

The time period in which Maralinga is set is vividly realised by Nunn, providing the reader with a very good feel for the climate at this rather precarious time. With a focus on politics, policies, military movements, the cold war, treatment of women and racial prejudice, Nunn covers comprehensive ground. By far the most compelling aspect of this novel was the focus on Maralinga itself. Maralinga looms over the proceedings of the book and this testing hub demands to be acknowledged for its controversial environmental acts.

Featuring a cast of good guys, villains and a few in between, Maralinga navigates tricky and problematic terrain. Maralinga is shocking, revealing and well researched. I consider this one a must read for Australian history enthusiasts.

**** 4 stars

Maralinga by Judy Nunn was first published in 2009 by Arrow Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Maralinga, Judy Nunn, visit here.

Maralinga is book #52 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge

4 thoughts on “#Book Bingo 2020 Round 5: ‘About the environment’- Maralinga by Judy Nunn

  1. Perhaps you don’t remember but I mentioned a while back that I have only read one of Judy Nunn’s books (Heritage), I loved it so much it’s hard to believe I haven’t read any of her other books yet. I really hope to get to a couple of the five I own some time next year.

    Liked by 1 person

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