Read A Waltz for Matilda by Jackie French Online


In 1894, twelve-year-old Matilda flees the city slums to find her unknown father and his farm. But drought grips the land, and the shearers are on strike. Her father has turned swaggie and he's wanted by the troopers. In front of his terrified daughter, he makes a stand against them, defiant to the last. ′You′ll never catch me alive, said he...′Set against a backdrop of buIn 1894, twelve-year-old Matilda flees the city slums to find her unknown father and his farm. But drought grips the land, and the shearers are on strike. Her father has turned swaggie and he's wanted by the troopers. In front of his terrified daughter, he makes a stand against them, defiant to the last. ′You′ll never catch me alive, said he...′Set against a backdrop of bushfire, flood, war and jubilation, this is the story of one girl's journey towards independence. It is also the story of others who had no vote and very little but their dreams. Drawing on the well-known poem by A.B. Paterson and from events rooted in actual history, this is the untold story behind Australia′s early years as an emerging nation....

Title : A Waltz for Matilda
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780732290214
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 479 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Waltz for Matilda Reviews

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2018-12-08 10:29

    1894. Matilda is just twelve, pretending to be fourteen so she can work in the nearby jam factory while her mother is ill and bedridden. She continues to write to the father she's never met, who is building a home for them in the country and getting established before they move - or so her mother has always told her, and she's never doubted it. When her mother dies, leaving her alone in the world, Matilda is left with few choices. Their landlady, Mrs Dawkins, is willing to let her stay if she works for her board, but Matilda has no intention of becoming a maid. Instead, she takes her few meagre possessions, learns which train to catch from her friend Tommy, a young boy with a knack for machinery and inventing, and heads off to find her father.All she really knows is the name of her father's farm - Moura - and the nearest town, Gibber's Creek. When the train stops for Gibber's Creek, she finds no station or town, but the faint demarcation of a road which she might not have spotted if a wagon wasn't stopped at it. Three men are there to pick up a union speaker who rode the train with her; also waiting to be picked up are a well-dressed woman and her daughter, who's about Matilda's age. Matilda throws in her lot with the working men, who give her a lift into town where her father will be - it's a big night for the union, and her dad is the man who began it in Gibber's Creek.When she does finally meet her father, it's a happy reunion. Her dad is full of plans, and Matilda learns a new version of the truth as to why she'd never met him before. But all too soon, a shocking and tragic event unfolds and Matilda must once again turn to her own abilities to survive in this harsh, drought-afflicted land. With the assistance of a local Aboriginal woman called Auntie Love and Auntie's nephew, Mr Sampson, and her dog, Hey You, Matilda turns her energy and willingness to learn to making her dad's dream for Moura come true. But it's not only the land she has to struggle against: her neighbour, the wealthy and powerful squatter Mr Drinkwater, presents a challenge of his own.Jackie French is a prolific writer and the Australian Children’s Laureate; she was also, this year (2015), declared the "Senior Australian of the Year". Both are well deserved, and I hope she receives even more recognition. I was first introduced to French through her priceless picture book, Diary of a Wombat. But I had to wait till I'd moved back to Australia, in late 2013, before I could start reading her novels. The Road to Gundagai, the third book in the Matilda Saga, was one of my favourite novels of 2013 - it reads as a standalone, but I knew I had to go back to the beginning with this volume, A Waltz for Matilda. A Waltz for Matilda deserves to be better known and more widely read than it currently is. It's a Young Adult historical fiction novel that is accessible to children and just as satisfying and wonderful a read for adults - it's not many authors who have such breadth in their style. French effortlessly captures the tone and feel of the era, both through period details and characterisation as well as through the way she writes. It's not that it's written in a faux "olde worlde" style - that would be naff to the highest degree - but that the articulate, intelligent, smoothly-flowing prose instantly grounds the reader in another era. French manages to incorporate the information her readers need to picture scenes and understand events, without the usual clunky exposition or conversations that sound manufactured and contrived. For instance, Matilda - a polite, considerate, well-mannered girl who knows how to write a letter and say 'thank you' - begins a correspondence with the lady she met at the Gibber's Creek 'station', Mrs Ellsmore, after Mrs Ellsmore discovers a shared tie with Matilda through her now-deceased Aunt Ann. Aunt Ann, a spinster of small income (especially compared to Mrs Ellsmore, who's upper class), is a member of the Women's Temperance League. Through these letters we get a sense of what's happening in Australia over the course of the next few decades, as Australia heads to Federation and then women get the vote. This is a novel in which a lot is happening within a very simple, straight-forward narrative structure. It's a coming-of-age novel for Matilda, who grows into adulthood over the course of the book, from 1894 to 1915. It's also a treasure trove of insight into the history of the period, the dynamics of small rural towns, conflicts between class, gender and race, the rise of unions in Australia, the conditions of Aborigines, and of course the land. The land is one of French's main themes, throughout all her work - I recognised many details, beautifully rendered and incorporated into this story from 2010, from her 2013 nonfiction work, Let the Land Speak. This novel is educational while at the same time entertaining and engrossing.A key scene towards the beginning of the novel is used as the fictional inspiration of the famous song, "Waltzing Matilda" (in real life, this was written by Banjo Patterson in 1895. There is a note at the beginning of the book that outlines the origins - both known and dodgy - of the song, but I did love the way it was woven into the story. It fitted perfectly. Needless to say, this is a book that made me cry as much as it made me smile. It connected with me from the opening lines, effortlessly, like that moment at the birth of your child when you hold in your arms a being that is a part of you, yet separate. (You know you're struggling to articulate a sense when you have to resort to such an intense, mind-blowing yet traumatic and over-represented event!) Perhaps it is better to say, simply, that whenever you find an author whose writing just fits perfectly with you, that you're so comfortable with and that ticks all your boxes (personally, I want stories that engage, entertain, challenge and confront me and make me feel), you know you'll never be disappointed.One of the things I really loved about this story (and there were many) was the juxtaposition of Matilda actively listening and learning from Auntie Love, who taught her women's business, including how to find food where white people see dirt and dust, with that of Mr Drinkwater, whose character, early on at least, represents your typical white squatter. An authoritarian figure, like a local lord, who owns great swathes of land and controls pretty much everything, he too loves the land, but he also is too stubborn to learn a non-white way of farming it. The character arc for Mr Drinkwater was wonderful, and really enriches the story. Matilda is, of course, a real heroine. I can't imagine any twelve year old today doing what she did, none of it - this is another aspect of the story that makes you feel grounded in the 1890s, when children worked and often died on factory floors. The Australian landscape is brought vividly to life, and whether you're Australian or not, it is both familiar and new. Familiar because it is the dry, drought-afflicted land so often talked about and photographed, and new because there's more to it than that. I loved that moment, early on, when Matilda puts aside her pre-conceived idea of beautiful, based on pictures in books - the pretty, neat English green fields and fluffy white sheep - for the glorious gold of her new land. It is, almost literally, a transfiguring moment, when she steps away from the English ideal into the Australian reality, and learns to appreciate it and see it. This helps to enable her to learn how to care for it, rather than mould it to fit an inappropriate ideal (something people still try and do today - if you're interested in learning more about that, I recommend you read Let the Land Speak).I could go, but I'd rather let you read it for yourself and discover the joy within its pages. As for me, I've got books 2 and 4 (The Girl from Snowy River and To Love A Sunburnt Country) ready to go, and I can't wait to visit the next generations of The Matilda Saga.

  • Clare Cannon
    2018-12-03 08:46

    I’m re-writing this review to do it justice, because I really loved this book. It covers so many poignant things about the history of my country (we celebrated Australia Day yesterday), and it’s well told with wonderful characters that you really get to know. They are real characters, each one independently taking the story where they will, you never feel that there’s an overbearing author pushing everyone about.Jackie French is renowned for highly readable historical fiction with an Australian flavour, and this novel explores Australia’s early years as an emerging nation, around 1900… (how young is our nation as we know it!). It centres around twelve-year-old Matilda O’Halloran, who in 1894 leaves the city slums to go and find her father who is making his living on the land. It’s a time of unrest: drought and desperation have strained the relations between workers and landowners, the poor and the wealthy, and Matilda’s own father is wanted by the troopers.French has taken inspiration from the well-known poem by A B Paterson, known to many through the famous Aussie tune Waltzing Matilda. She’s also incorporated events from actual history – just suspend your disbelief that so much of it involved our heroine. There’s the reality of life on the land, erratic at best: drought, flood, bushfires, and the constant battle to keep crops and livestock alive. There’s the political instability of a land of non-unified governments, the inequality between owners and workers, and the lack of money all round.Telling the history of a nation through specific characters requires that circumstances work to make everything fall into place, and sometimes the events are rather unlikely. Some may call this contrived, but I think this is part of an author’s license, for they are making history into a story which helps us to personally engage with the reality far more than we would with an unimpassioned account.One of the more unlikely friendships formed is between 15 year old Matilda and her elderly neighbour. Yet such comradeship is a natural part of our heritage, because the determination in both of them – one youthful and adventurous, and the other ingrained and stubborn – made them so similar that it was only natural that they became friends. There is something of our heritage in both of them.French doesn’t shy away from the messy elements of history, illegitimate children born to unsanctioned relationships between whites and indigenous Australians, or the struggle of a rightful feminism that fought for respect where it was lacking, or even the racism towards the Aboriginal people that was the prevalent attitude of the time. But her history is not bitter, she is sensitive to these issues and makes them evident but does not allow them to devalue the good that happened as well.One of most beautiful qualities that comes through her characters and their story is resilience. This has been claimed as an Aussie quality, and I only hope it is so. Her characters have no self-pitying victim complex, they ‘get on and have a go’. They are not afraid of hard work, and they are not afraid of death, death happened so quickly and so often that they had no choice but to make an effort and continue on. This is the same generous attitude I love in my dear Grandmother, and I feel this book could have been written about her and the strong line of Aussie women who came before her. It makes me consider how weak we can be facing our little problems, which are nothing compared to what was faced by everyone back then. Theirs was a story of starting out, failing, and beginning once again.There’s a beautiful passage on the good that can come from suffering, because if there is no need, there is no solution sought.If there had been no drought you’d never have come here. You’re a gift to me from the drought. Like many things. The drought gave us much more than it took. If there had been no drought there’d have been no shearers’ strike, no union. If times had been better no one would have worried about tariffs between states or kanakas coming in to take white men’s jobs. Without all of that we’d still be a collection of states, bumbling along side by side. The drought gave us Australia. p423These characters radiate wisdom, something we young Australians can learn from so many of our ancestors. It’s about living in the present and throwing our all into what we do, learning to give and to suffer well, to really live instead of seeking false fantasies that are shallow and short lived and lead to bitterness.There is also a great deal of wisdom in the romance in this book. Matilda asks the right questions about what freedom there should be in a relationship, about the need to accept some inevitable differences between people but not having false hope about differences that are irreconcilable. There is tremendous honesty when she considers a nice, romantic proposal – it was everything she had hoped for – with the objectivity it needs: knowing there are fundamental differences between them she realises her motives for getting married are perhaps not right. She sees that love can include failings, but not lies. And it needs courage to live it well, and sometimes even the courage to say no.Her wisdom may feel old-fashioned to some, but she lives the same struggle that many young romantics face: a sweet but blind attraction, fed by wishful thinking, but dampened by a little doubt that won’t go away. Her characters have the courage to face that doubt, passing on invaluable experience to the reader.How does French make ‘bone-deep integrity’ the most irresistible part of the hero’s character? She shows that waiting patiently – especially when one is longing to act – is the most effective fuel for a happy and lasting relationship. And it really is beautiful, especially when contrasted with the charm of false consolations. Yet these too can contribute to beauty of character when they are faced with honesty and integrity.A charming yet substantial historical novel; even if written for teens, adults will find much to love in this story.

  • Celina
    2018-11-25 03:28

    Please note that my ratings are based on my enjoyment of the book.This was wonderful. As I was reading this, I felt bad that with each page I flipped I would come closer to the end.I'll try to write a proper review.The Plot:Well, after some unfortunate circumstances, meaning the death of her Mum, the murder of her Dad, Matilda finds herself with a plot of land. She hated it at first, but after her dad pointed out its beauty to her and because she doesn't want to work for the mean old guy, who unintentionally drove her father to kill himself, twelve year old Matilda decides to follow her Dad's dream of owning a sheep farm and sets one up herself. And guess what? The poor little girl becomes a successful young lady to a rich woman.Though I did suspected early on that Mr Drinkwater and Auntie Love were somehow involved with each other in the past.Characters: (Well, some of the characters, anyway.)Matilda O'Hallaran: She's a plucky, independent and wise girl. I'd like to be like her, but I'm much too girly and "maarte" to be a proper farm lass like Matilda. I liked her very much.Tommy Thompson: (I thought his first name was Thompson.) A sweet guy who is obviously sweet on the two years younger Matilda, he has a talent as a mechanist and as an inventor.Mr Drinkwater Seems like a bad guy at first because he unintentionally killed Matilda's dad, his GRANDSON, but he proves to have Hidden Depths when he's kind to Matilda. It turns out that he married Auntie Love and gave her her name, and she and him are Matilda's great grandparents, making her about an eighth Aboriginal.Auntie LoveI consider her my favourite character from them all. When she died, I wailed. A Cool Old Aboriginal Lady, who turns out to be Matilda's Great Grandmother and her father's maternal Grandmother, who left Mr Drinkwater, her husband, when their youngest daughter died.Doo LeeA "Chinaman" who gives the young Matilda a ride to Moura. He gives her veggies, too. Though he didn't appear much after the ride, he's pretty important nonetheless, as he plants Matilda's vegetable garden and his wife Patricia becomes a friend of Matilda, though they're not as close nor is their relationship prominent in the book. But she did invite her to her son's wedding to a white girl. There are plenty of other characters, but I decided to add only the ones who stood out the most to me.Oh, and Matilda's Dad kills himself by drowning himself in the billabong so he won't be arrested for doing something he didn't do. Wasn't very nice for Matilda, but though her road to independence started when she left the city when her Mum died to find Dad, that scene really got it moving.The Romance (Cough, cough, the Love Triangle):So, as the story spans over several decades from 1894 to 1915, of course innnocent-in-ways Matilda would grow up to be quite the young woman. It helps that not only is she quite beautiful when she gets older, but loaded, too. Betty Tommy, I suspect, has fancied Matilda since their time in the jam factory, but she seems him originally as a brother. Meanwhile, Veronica James is a bit of a liar (understatement), proud, and just like his Dad, but he loves Drinkwater and has this brightness about him. At first, I was a Team Tommy, then after he tells Matilda that she was like an amazon when she helps to save their sheep in the bushfire, I was shipping James/Matilda, even when he lied to Matilda about shooting Natives, I shamefully admit. But, I was back to shipping TommyxMatilda when James went away to fight in the Boer War. But Tommy marries another girl and James dies when he's executed by the English for shooting two Boers, and it looks for a while that Matilda'll become an old maid, when she does eventually see Tommy again, widowed and lost one son and with his daughter, their relationship ends with a happy note as the waltz to the Waltzing Matilda. Yup, they WILL get together after the credits.Negatives:The time skips iffed me a bit. I suppose it has to do with the fact that the first part of the book just goes from each moment to the next. I liked the way it was, and it was a rather large change. But aside from that, I enjoyed it a LOT.Overall: All in all, I enjoyed LOVED this book very much, and the characters became real to me, as did the story. Jackie French has really outdone herself here in this amazing novel. I encourage you, reader, to pick it up and don't be afraid to dream!

  • Cara
    2018-11-24 09:23

    Set in 1894, A Waltz for Matilda begins when twelve-year-old Matilda flees the city slums and the ghosts of her guardians to find her unknown ‘golden’ father and his farm. Matilda encounters the eccentric Mr. Gotobed and Mr. Doo on her travels to Moura but her father’s home is not the safe haven she thought it would be with the land in a state of turmoil, with the shearers on strike, Mr. Drinkwater looking for someone to blame, a drought robbing families of their farms and the stirrings of a Union in the air. The hardships of the life on the land are depicted with brilliant accuracy where bushfires burn, but flowers bloom in their wake. A Waltz for Matilda is ultimately a story of the minorities; the women, Indigenous and Chinese who had very little say in Australia’s federation but help make Australia what it is today. A beautifully crafted story based on true historical events told through the eyes of the strongest, fiercest heroine I’ve ever met. A Waltz for Matilda is a heart-warming Australian tale filled with battlers, old biscuits and the most compelling female protagonist to be found in Young Adult literature.

  • Jennifer (JC-S)
    2018-12-02 09:49

    ‘And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong, …’This novel opens in 1894, when Matilda O’Halloran is living in a city slum with her mother. When her mother dies, Matilda leaves the city to find her father and his farm. Matilda finds her father, but then loses him in circumstances just like the song:‘Up jumped the swagman and sprang into that billabong,‘You’ll never take me alive’ said he’And so, Matilda is on her own. And despite the best advice of the neighbours, including the rich landowner Mr Drinkwater who was part of the billabong fiasco, Matilda is determined to stay on her father’s farm. With the help of an old aboriginal woman, Auntie Love, and the support of others Matilda manages to make a go of it.But this novel is more than just one girl’s success against the odds. It is also the story of the positive and negative aspects of how Australia became a nation. The novel draws on a number of industrial issues, including factory work in the city as well as the shearer’s strike of 1894 and the ‘Federation Drought’ which started in the 1890s and ended early in the 20th century. Matilda’s story also incorporates the treatment of women, of the indigenous peoples, and touches on the treatment of the Chinese as Australia draws close to federation. There are other historical snapshots as well: Australian soldiers in the Boer War and inventions that have enabled Australians to adapt to life in what can be a harsh and unforgiving country.Matilda succeeds in what is very much a man’s world, and along the way finds friends, forgiveness and love.This novel is described as juvenile fiction, and it touches on many of the themes of Australia’s history between 1894 and 1915. While its inspiration is the song ‘Waltzing Matilda’, the story moves into the events and times that inspired the writing of the song (by A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson). Ms French also includes a set of useful notes on the text providing points on some of the historical elements of the novel. I suspect that many adults would also enjoy the story as much as I did.‘The past is not always comfortable, but it is part of who we are.’Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  • Tango Librarian
    2018-11-27 07:37

    Waltz for Matilda, written by Jackie French, is a beautifully written, captivating novel about Matilda, a young Australian girl who runs away from the city to join her father in the outback. Life is hard out there and happy endings are sparse, however, Matilda works hard, is strong and thoughtful and courageous! Jackie French recommended I read this book of hers first, and it is truly wonderful. I have recommended it for younger readers as well as older readers because it’s story is accessible and age appropriate for all readers.The book is set in Australia, during the early Colonial times. She's tough, and strong, beautiful and proves herself to be a great Australian woman.

  • Hend A
    2018-12-01 10:24

    MatildasThe book Matildas Jackie French is about a girl that’s trying to find her father, while living with her mother, who was ill. After Matildas mum became ill they had to move in with her aunt, as they couldn’t afford to pay the wasn’t long after, that her aunt had a tragic accident and died. Matilda’s life gets harder with there mum being sick and she having no one to care for her. After a couple of months her mother died. She had been working at the jam factory with a boy called Tom. Tom had given her a home to live in and would of given her food to eat. Matilda is a very good book you can learn a lot about Australia I recommend you reading this book have fun

  • Ashleigh
    2018-12-14 07:24

    Loved it! re-read it as part of a reading challenge, well, two actually, and it broke my heart all over again!

  • LauraW
    2018-12-15 07:44

    I read this on my way back to the US from Australia, so I had visions of gum trees and the dry countryside in my brain. I have enjoyed quite a few of Jackie French's books. I find historical fiction to be much more interesting than the history lessons I was subjected to in virtually all of my classes in grade school and beyond. That said, I do have a few things that make me uneasy about this book. Jackie French acknowledges in the introduction and the notes at the end of the book that the racism depicted in the book must be there, because otherwise the book would be too far from historical reality. I agree. In fact, I find that the racism has been toned down a bit too much. I am not sure that a 12 year old girl would find it so easy to discard her racist heritage. It is a fine line to tread and Ms. French does it well: portray the racism fairly accurately, but show the heroine as not accepting of it. But I would have liked to see a bit more internal struggle with it in Matilda. The second thing that I have reservations about is the character of Mr. Drinkwater, the elder. After finding out the relationships between all of the major characters, I still don't quite understand why the critical early scene plays out as it did. And one minor criticism from an American: I wish the book had included the full text of the song in one of the appendices.But I did enjoy the book and I finished it on the plane flights, even though I was massively tired. I will be looking for the sequels, even though it is difficult to find Australian children's and young adult's literature in the U.S.

  • Lisa
    2018-12-06 06:46

    Epic young adult novel with a wide ranging history of the natural land, race relations, conquest of the Aboriginal people, women's rights--all around the time of the federation/Australian independence. Wish it didn't end with the heroes rich and in love, but the rest of the education is nicely from the bottom up, union/working men alliances as the heroic element.

  • Cait (Paper Fury)
    2018-12-10 02:46

    This is another masterpiece from Jackie French, packed with adventure, the beauty of Australia's Outback, reality, romance, heartbreak, bushfires, drought and sheep. It may ring of 20th Century Fox's The Man From Snowy River at times and most of the plot turns are predictable, but it truly is worth the read. Here is our sunburnt Australia at its most real. The characters are portrayed with depth and understanding, though we don't get a chance to know Matilda's dad very well. I thought the book would be all about "Waltzing Matilda". But it turned out, seeing the poem itself wrapped up after a few chapters into the story, that the book was about Matilda -- a slum girl who desperately wanted a better life. She took her father's homestead. She listened to the natives of the land. And she worked with the Outback, not against it. The likeness to The Man From Snowy River is sometimes a bit much. Rags to riches. Proving their worth. A forbidden romance. Just less horses and more sheep. Matilda starts off her venture at the age of twelve, though the book ends when she's well into her thirties. But she does a lot for a twelve-year-old who's never lived in the bush before...sometimes a questionably unrealistic amount. Still, she has many friends who, with few words, are willing to help her. Although, it seems, at the end everyone is actually related. It's written in third person, with a spattering of letters to and from Matilda's acquantinces during the book. The style is engaging. The prose flows. The chapters regularly end with a hook, and even if they don't, you feel sort of compelled to keep reading, to find out what happens next in Matilda's life. It's not a thriller. But, with the well-crafted words, the thickness isn't even daunting. Matilda had a dream. That was all she needed.

  • Leigh Denton
    2018-11-19 05:47

    What a wonderful book for a primary school age child to read! It contains history, inspiration and an excellent role model for young girls in its eponymous heroine. Although credibility is stretched a little with a 13 year old city-bred girl running a farm, there are sufficient characters around her with their hearts in the right place to allow one to gloss over such a reality and the plot is also sufficiently dramatic to keep one enthralled until the last page. A highly recommended read for the historical facts woven into the narrative, the unflinching use of tragedy and some unpalatable details together with the enduring spirit of particularly, the female characters. There is also the underlying theme of reconciliation between disparate and apparently irreconcilable persons which leads to a miraculous and satisfying conclusion. A must-read for anyone wishing to gain insight into Australian history at the turn of the 19th century.

  • Sophia.F
    2018-11-17 09:44

    This extraordinary book is written by Jackie French, This book is about a 12 year old girl called Matilda,join her on her journey to find her unknown father and his farm. Matilda goes on an adventure as she has to go through big droughts and bush fires. As this book is set in 1894 it brings back some Australian history which we all enjoy. A waltz for Matilda is the perfect book for you if you love a mash up between mystery and adventure. Can a girl and a dream change a nation?

  • Wizzfizz
    2018-11-28 07:35

    Beautifully written, so descriptive - you feel that you are right there with Matilda as she battles on in the harsh Aussie landscape.This is a tale that stays with you - months later I still find myself thinking about it.Totally G-rated and suitable for young readers - it was lovely to be able to share this wonderful story with my 12 year old daughter.

  • Vicky
    2018-12-12 05:38

    It's a delight to read such wonderful work by an Australian author. It deals with harsh subjects in a manner which is acceptable to junior readers. I loved the wonderfully strong character of Matilda and the description of our amazing country. A pleasure to read.

  • Michael Panckridge
    2018-11-24 04:24

    Loved this book. Seem to be saying that a lot - but I tend to stop reading a book if I'm not enjoying it and it likely won't get a review. Anyway, what a wonderful way to explore life in Aus around the turn of the century. A ripping yarn that rollicks along at a great pace. Surprises around various corners. One I'll be recommending to the kids for sure.

  • Mary Smith
    2018-11-30 08:45

    I really enjoyed this book, which tells the story of Matilda O'Halloran. We follow her story from a 12 year old who claims to be 14 so she can work in the jam factory, her journty to find her father, and her total change from a city girl to a young woman who loves the country and the land she lives on. I found the story very interesting, based solidly on fact and having a good cast of characters.

  • Wendy Lovatt
    2018-12-02 10:42


  • Rosina Dimech
    2018-12-01 03:34

    I loved this book.

  • Anna Davidson
    2018-11-20 08:34

    A historical family saga. Absolutely my kind of book. I loved the way the lyrics and history of the song, Waltzing Matilda, were woven into the story.

  • Eleanor Hammond
    2018-11-26 05:37

    I loved this book.

  • Michele Turner
    2018-12-01 05:26

    loved this book. Put off reading it for years as I did not think I would enjoy reading the Australian History. (don't know why!) But will now read the series.

  • Maeve (Otherwordlybooks)
    2018-12-14 03:34

    "Hey lassie," called one of them. "All alone? Suddenly the risk of being kidnapped by a white slaver felt less likely to harm her than sitting here unprotected in the darkness. A Waltz for Matildais perfectly fine book to read. It has a compelling lead female, strong female characters and follows a young girl into adulthood. However it really is only an okay book. If you're like me and love historical fiction (especially those with Australian characters) then Jackie French is one of the best.I readA Rose for the ANZAC Boysand fell in love. I was hoping to do the same with A Waltz for Matilda but something felt off.After a factory incident that leaves a boy scarred, the death of her mother, an eventful welcoming to the train station and finally finding her father in outback Australia; I felt like the story had used up all it's action in a short amount of time. The book holds it own and I did want to finish it but I found myself asking, "why does this matter?"It felt like French tried to cram as much bush tricks into this book but not in a way where it was beneficial for the story line.This book address' many issues and does them all justice. In a time of turmoil for Australia and the workers rights, there were many other problems faced that were usually pushed aside for the white male workers. Women's rights and equality is the main issue faced in this book. Matilda overcomes so many prejudices throughout her life. She's a strong character which was one of the main reasons I had to finish the book. So she had a third choice too. To live alone, to farm alone....She had the land. And just now she knew it was the most important thing that she had ever had. In a time where women married and were only tied to the kitchen and other homely duties, Matilda farmed and tended sheep. She wore pants, and bought clothes specifically for men and wore them herself. Matilda was pretty bad ass for a 12 year old orphan.She had help and from a "native" to much of the gossiping in town. The second issue this book looks at is racism. Anyone who wasn't white was second class. Aboriginals were deemed wild and animals; Matilda lived with an old aboriginal lady who teaches her about the land and what to look for to predict what will happen. Her foreman on Moura is an Aboriginal and they both treat each other with respect and as equals. The racism is also towards the Chinese; again Matilda befriends the local Chinese man Mr. Doo and becomes good friends with him and his family; while the town is only just accepting them.Even though this book is slow and in some parts unnecessary it challenges the ideas of the whole "White Australia" and when men used to rule puts a girl the age of 12 in charge of her own farm and watches her grow and become a young lady of 19 rivalling the neighbouring rich old white man to a woman of 32, unmarried and owning one of the largest farming stations. If one more person suggested she work as a maid she was going to - she tried to think of the worst crime in Aunt Ann's view of the world - to spit.

  • Jemimah Halbert
    2018-11-24 07:34

    *this review contains spoilers!*The first in a series of historical fiction set in outback Australia at the turn of the 19th century, A Waltz for Matilda is a novel intended for young adult readers. However it is easily enjoyed by anyone with a love of country, history and strong characters who overcome adversity and hardship with tenacity and courage. French is a much loved young adult author whose stories contain the kind of detail that can only be written about through lived experience: she lived and worked on farms for much of her life; my first experience of her writing were my Mum’s copies of The Chook Book and Backyard Self-Sufficiency. As well as books about livestock and small holding, French has a long list of young adult novels that explore complex issues from religious persecution, war and refugees to environmentalism, racism and sexism. The series beginning with A Waltz for Matilda uncovers a young Australia, still bound by colonial law and British sovereignty, and the remarkable events that forged the nation that we know today.A Waltz for Matilda follows the life of twelve year old Matilda, a girl living in an unnamed Australian city, working in a factory six days a week for little pay to keep her ailing mother alive. When her mother dies and she cannot stay in the city, Matilda travels to the tiny remote town of Gibbers’ Creek where she finds the long-lost father she barely remembers and his small farm built from love and dreams. Her father dies in a dramatic last stand against the troopers and landowner Mr Drinkwater, which inspires the song Waltzing Matilda and becomes legend throughout Australia to this day. Matilda then builds her life on her father’s farm, using her resourcefulness and courage to survive and prosper, and finding friends and family in unlikely places. Historical aspects of A Waltz for Matilda include the referendum to unite the colonies into one nation, the Boer war and its consequences for Australian soldiers under British rule, white women gaining the vote in the new Australia, institutionalised racism, and the environmental impact of white settlement. The themes in this story are of strength and courage in hardship, romance and friendship and the lines in between, and learning to live and love a land as a home like no other.French has structured the work in chapters, with each chapter headed by a letter to or from Matilda to her parents or friends, which give context to the time and place Matilda is a character that every young adult will love: she is strong, resourceful, fierce, fair and hard-working. She endures many losses and grieves each one, but she carries on, going from strength to strength in her friends, her business and her farm. The farm, and the landscape of the place she lives, is a major part of the story and is often portrayed as a source of Matilda’s strength and courage; this is a common theme in French’s work.A Waltz for Matilda is a well-written young adult novel that blends fiction and historical fact into a highly readable and memorable novel. French’s use of landscape and history paint a rich picture of a young woman and a young nation forging a life and a future from a stark and ancient landscape full of secrets.

  • Joanne Hastings
    2018-12-12 02:40

    Loved it.

  • Laura
    2018-12-11 10:36

    So I have an issue with Jackie French being referred to solely as an author of children's books!I'm not sure that there are adequate words to describe that wonderful feeling that you get from a special book, but all bookworms (like myself) should know the one that I'm talking about. Those amazing books that give you that warm feeling in your chest and make you want to be a better person? some would call it love. Well, this book was one of those special books for me.I am twenty years old and I have just re-read this book for probably about the fourth time and I love it just as much (if not more) as the time that I first picked it up! As an Australian I am so moved by the beauty that French sees in the Australian landscape and by the way that she is able to put that beauty into words in a way that I have never been able to. The care that French has taken to explore not only the well documented and popular history of the country, but also the (almost) forgotten and sometimes ugly aspects of Australian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is the reason that I return to her work again and again.Aside from the research and care that French has put into this work, there is a beautiful and moving story that is a testament to French's ability. French's dedication to telling the stories of the unsung heroes of history (often the women) has achieved something for me that was never attempted by the many history lessons that I sat through in high school.Despite her reputation as a children's author, I would and have recommended many of French's books to anyone and everyone! (Seriously, i have my dad reading this book right at this second and he loves it!)

  • Jessica
    2018-11-26 08:36

    Jackie French has a very real talent for taking stories – be they snippets of long lost poems barely remembered or epic tales that are reflect in so many media – and retelling them in a fresh way that breathes new life into each. A Waltz for Matilda does not let her down in this tradition – rather, it both exemplifies the best that she can write and the best that others should aspire to if they wish to retell a favourite tale in their own fashion. She merges history with myth seamlessly, and the level of research and knowledge she draws upon both educates and enlightens the reader. With a tenacious and determined young character unafraid to make her own mistakes regardless of the advice given to her, Jackie shows her usual talent for writing powerful girls. The story is long – it stretches out through droughts, wars, and a technological boom at the time unparalleled. Despite this, the book is unwaveringly engaging. The references to historical invention and discovery are plenty – and yet it doesn’t read like a dry textbook but keeps the passion and dedication of the main characters alive and relatable. On the whole, Jackie French has produced a strong work and one of her best, and in doing so sets the Matilda Saga up to be a classic of Young Australian Children’s Literature – which given the quality and strength of her competition, is no mean feat. It should inspire a love of Australian History - the untold, the silenced, and the uncomfortable as well as the rich and celebrated.

  • Ceri ( A Book Between)
    2018-11-20 10:32

    Jackie French truly does have a way with words. She has delighted readers of all ages for many years and this book is simply superb as many have come to expect from this much loved Australian author.One cannot help but be inspired by the strength and determination of Matilda as she leaves the only home she has ever known and ventures out into the outback in search of her father and a better life. The joy she finds is sadly cut short when her father dies in an attempt to escape the Troopers, leaving Matilda the owner of her fathers' small farm. Matilda refuses to give up on her fathers dreams for the farm and puts her heart and soul into the property. Along the way she experiences friendship, love and loss, as she fights for, not only her rights, but also the rights of her friends.This book sends strong messages of the importance of equality and the importance of not giving up. With a descriptive writing style the reader feels as though they have been transported to the Australian outback and can feel the burning heat of the sun on their skin, smell the sweetness of the Australian bush, hear the gentle hum of the insects and see the beautiful golden, sunburnt country stretching out before their eyes.A beautiful, historical tale that will be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.

  • Lauren
    2018-12-06 08:37

    Started off a bit wobbly, but I eventually found myself quite invested in this novel. I think it helped that I'd just watched both seasons of 'My Place', which definitely helped give me the right mindset for the story.If I were to critique this novel, I would have to say that things fell a little too neatly into place for the protagonist. A lot of this is the result of one of the major twists near the end of the story, which I felt took away too much from the protagonist's achievements. Nevertheless, I guess it speaks to the strength of the character that I cared that much about the twist. She was a sympathetic and likeable protagonist. I found one of her romantic sub-plots a bit dim, but the other was great. I ... I may have flicked to the back of the book, just to check if they would still be in the picture. He was a good character!Anyway, the supporting characters were also interesting and Jackie French did a good job of being honest about the racism and sexism of the time without going into clumsy, A Very Special Episode territory.I'm not sure I'd recommend the book to people more on the adult end of the YA spectrum like myself, as the writing is geared more towards tweens and a bit older. It was an enjoyable read, but a bit too breezy for my tastes.

  • Livia
    2018-12-18 04:45

    This is my favourite book. Now, I know what you're thinking: How can you just pick a favourite book? There's like, a billion books to chose from. I have five reasons.5. Jackie French has an admirable passion in history and has a way with words that can make even the littler things in life seem grand.4. This book made me cry. That may seem bad, (it isn't) but I just do not cry. About anything. For a book to push me to that emotional state is shocking. It was a nice change.3. I love how the author plays out Matilda's life in this book. It just... It's great. It makes me feel happy to get a good background check on who I'm supposed to be reading about.2. There is both the good and the bad. It is not some headoverheels/hormonesraging/heartbeatoutofcontrolcallanambulance type of love story. It is wonderful in its simplicity, where there are necessary deaths and relevant happiness.1. This was the first ever chapter book I'd read; it is what got me into reading. It was a memorable victory on my part.It just left me feeling likeThe cover is also fantastic.ToForever&After ~ Liv