It is 1964 and The Federal Department of Supply manage to lure Evan Johnson away from his job in Melbourne where he works in an electrical company who make radio transistors for boats and planes. The persuade him to make, what at the time, was a long and arduous trip to Port Badminton in the north west of Australia, with the prospect of excellent pay and an extraordinary technological assignment, which we, in hindsight as the reader, know is the enormous satellite dish that is needed by the Americans to receive signals from their moon landing. Evan brings with him his twenty-three year old wife, Linda and their three year old daughter, Johanna.
They meet Lucky the galah who lends, her, yes her, Lucky is a lady, name to the title of the book, at a roadhouse not far from their destination. After a brief stop and rest we are enigmatically told by the narrator, as Evan hops back into the car, that he has five years, twenty weeks, thirteen hours, nine minutes and approximately twenty-two seconds to live.
Having your name as the title of the novel, you would expect Lucky to play an integral role to the narrative, and she does. Lucky has the job of tying all the smaller narratives that make up the entire story together and entertaining the reader. I admire the way Sorensen has written this novel. The narrative jumps back and forth in time and is seen from multiple character’s perspective. Sorensen will let a particular object, say a teapot, or book, carry over from one narrative into another, often being the focal point and at other times seemingly of no interest. This works extremely well, look for the innocent little diamante button.
She also populates this narrative with some wonderful characters. There is Dogger, who ekes out his existence as a shooter, who shoots anything that he can claim a bounty on, ranging from sharks to kangaroos. There is Dr Harry Baumgarten, the insect lover and birdwatcher, or entomologist and ornithologist, if you want to use the correct lingo, who is writing a book on insects and has come to Port Badminton to research the adult banana weevil.
I simply have to give this book 5 stars because I think it is so well written. It had me constantly going back to previous chapters to weave all the threads of the narrative together. Having said that, it’s not essential to do this, and it’s easy to keep track of the main storyline. Skilfully written, rich characters, killer ending. 5 stars!
Tracy Sorensen is a writer, filmmaker and academic. She was born in Brisbane, grew up in Carnarvon on the north coast of Western Australia and lived in and around Newtown, Sydney, for about 15 years. She now lives in Bathurst with her partner Steve and a black Labrador (Bertie). The Lucky Galah is her first book.
There is a terrific interview at NZBOOKLOVERS with Tracy talking about the book. Here is the link - https://www.nzbooklovers.co.nz/blog/interview-tracy-sorensen-talks-about-the-lucky-galah