Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Road to Gundagai by Jackie French

This is the third book in the Matilda Saga, which includes A Waltz for Matilda and A Girl From Snowy River. Set in 1932, the story follows Blue, a young woman, who has lost her family and is slowly being poisoned by her Aunts’, when the circus comes to town everything changes. With the help of Fred, Blue sneaks away in the dead of the night…and joins the Magnifico Family Circus. 

The story unfolds over the years that Blue spends with the circus, so we read about day to day life of the circus, and how the small number of people who make up the circus, take on many different persona's throughout the show. There is also a lot to learn about the depression and the hardships people faced, not only the circus folk, but the people in the towns they visited.

While this is the third book is the series, you don’t need to have read the others to enjoy it, the story stands alone but it does feature characters form the two earlier books such as Miss Matilda and Joseph McAlpine. 

There is just so much depth to this story; you could say it’s about the depression, but it also about family, values, strength, independence and identity. As with a lot of Jackie Frenchs’ books you don’t get a great story without some mature content, we read of children being sold into slavery, beatings, rape and murder.  In saying that I think this book is fine for Upper Primary aged readers, as well as Secondary school aged., this series features incredible strong female characters and I think girls of age 12+ won’t be able to put it down.

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