Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly



Precis of the story follows this review.

I borrowed the audio book of The Blue Mile from my local library. I was looking for material to give me a ‘feel’ for Sydney during the Great Depression as research for my current book. Although it is a fictional story line the backdrop of hardship, politics of the day and the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge are based on factual.

 The reason I chose the audio edition was to make use of my time driving to and from work – trying to cram in as much research as possible.

This period of Australian history has always interested me but still learnt a great deal more.  As an insight into the era and the building of a major landmark, it is accurate and absorbing. The Sydney Harbour is itself a link between the two characters. It provides work for Eoghan when finding a job was difficult and inspiration for Olivia’s fashion designs.

The blue mile refers to the stretch of water in Sydney Harbour between the suburbs where the two characters, Eoghan O'Keenan and Olivia Greene, live; a world apart in relation to background, financial security and class.

As a love story, it is enchanting. The characters are believable and, although they come from different class backgrounds, are well matched. Little Agnes is a delightful child who has a very grown up attitude to life.

The audio book is narrated by Zoe Ellerton-Ashley and James Harvy. Both of these Australian actors brought their characters to life as well as that of Agnes. James’ Irish accent was delightful to listen to.
I loved the story and its audio presentation and often wished my trip to work was longer so I could keep listening.

I am not a reader of love stories but Miss Kelly has delivered a well-researched historical fiction/love story with characters I enjoyed immensely. It had me totally engrossed. I intend to follow up with reading more of her books.

My rating 5*

This review is also available via my website www.pam.id.au

Precis
The week before Christmas, 1929, Eoghan O'Keenan loses his factory job, and has to flee the slums of Chippendale with his seven-year-old sister Agnes. On the north side of Sydney at Lavender Bay, Olivia Greene is working on her latest millinery creations and dreaming of becoming the next Coco Chanel.

A job on the Harbour Bridge for Eoghan, designing couture for the Governor's wife for Olivia, and a chance meeting in the Botanic Gardens sees the beginning of an unconventional romance. From vastly different backgrounds, with absolutely nothing in common - from faith to wealth and class - it seems that the blue mile of harbour between Olivia and Eoghan will be the least of the obstacles ahead.

By mid-1932, as the construction of the Bridge is completed, the city is in chaos as the Great Depression begins to bite hard and the unemployed edge ever closer to a violent revolt. And then Eoghan disappears.

Set against the spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour, The Blue Mile is a tale of the both wild and calculated risks a city took to build a wonder of the world, and of those taken by ordinary people to save a great love, against all of the odds.