Read Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett Online


An impassioned, charming, and hilarious debut novel about a young woman's coming-of-age, during one of the harshest whaling seasons in the history of New South Wales.1908: It's the year that proves to be life-changing for our teenage narrator, Mary Davidson, tasked with providing support to her father's boisterous whaling crews while caring for five brothers and sisters inAn impassioned, charming, and hilarious debut novel about a young woman's coming-of-age, during one of the harshest whaling seasons in the history of New South Wales.1908: It's the year that proves to be life-changing for our teenage narrator, Mary Davidson, tasked with providing support to her father's boisterous whaling crews while caring for five brothers and sisters in the wake of their mother's death. But when the handsome John Beck-a former Methodist preacher turned novice whaler with a mysterious past-arrives at the Davidson's door pleading to join her father's crews, suddenly Mary's world is upended.As her family struggles to survive the scarcity of whales and the vagaries of weather, and as she navigates sibling rivalries and an all-consuming first love for the newcomer John, nineteen-year-old Mary will soon discover a darker side to these men who hunt the seas, and the truth of her place among them. Swinging from Mary's own hopes and disappointments to the challenges that have beset her family's whaling operation, RUSH OH! is an enchanting blend of fact and fiction that's as much the story of its gutsy narrator's coming-of-age as it is the celebration of an extraordinary episode in history....

Title : Rush Oh!
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781489017192
Format Type : Audible Audio
Number of Pages : 589 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Rush Oh! Reviews

  • Hannah Greendale
    2019-03-14 11:00

    It is 1908, and nineteen-year-old Mary Davidson must care for her siblings in the wake of her mother's death and support her father's rowdy whaling crew in the midst of the bleakest whaling season in the history of New South Wales. When a mysterious and handsome stranger arrives to join her father's crew, Mary must also navigate the tumultuous desires of her heart. Rush Oh! gives a well-researched, fascinating account of whaling practices in the port town of Eden, off the coast of Australia. From the 1840s to the 1930s, pods of Killer whales assisted hunters by herding whales into the bay and bullying them into position for men to make a killing blow. In exchange for their aid, hunters gave the Killer whales first shot at feeding off the body while it sank to the bottom of the ocean. Twenty-four hours later, once the carcass had bloated with gas and risen to the surface, the men rowed out and collected the body, towing it back inland to dismember for profit. The inexperienced oarsmen reared back; their instinct was to flee, but unable to flee, they froze and stared at the sight before them. It was difficult to make sense of what they were seeing. It was huge, unmistakably, though most of its mass was concealed underwater; gray-black in color with a flat broad back. [. . .] It's vast coal-scuttle mouth curved downwards, and at one end of this a tiny eye, rheumy like an old man's, gazed up at them. It was grotesque and prehistoric in appearance, yet not unfriendly. In terms of story, Rush Oh! delicately balances feminine woes with masculine pursuits, as its divided evenly between Mary's interest in the enigmatic John Beck and tales of her father's crew braving the open sea to hunt for whales. Every whale hunt evokes a rush of excitement and the thrill of anticipation. These perilous pursuits are rendered with heart-stopping detail. One cannot help but cheer the hunters on, knowing full well their dire need for a good catch. I awoke suddenly to hear a distant but determined smack! It was a Killer whale flop-tailing, surely? Smack! There it was again, and no doubt about it this time. I jumped out of bed and hurried out to the veranda - my father was running stiff-legged down to the sleeping huts, shouting, "Rush oh! Get up, boys! Rush oh!" But the hunts also elicit a sense of being conflicted. As the whales thrash and fight for their lives, one cannot hope but wish for the magnificent creatures to break free and return to the safe depths of the ocean. Nonetheless, this book is charming and unexpectedly funny:He had none of the dismal, barnacled gray of the humpback: no, he was a portly and dapper fish in white tie and dinner jacket. How homely and dull humpbacks were in comparison, I thought to myself. [. . .] Sometimes, at night, when we heard the anguished cow-like moan of the humpback, my sister Louisa would say: "Listen! A humpback has just seen it's own reflection," which set the younger one's giggling. Rush Oh! was penned in the modern age but reads like a classic. Whenever I think of this story, I can almost see my father standing there atop the dead whale, a lean and wiry figure, yet somehow heroic with his bloody hand and his marker buoys and boathook, the sun setting behind him and the Killer whales circling and calling to one another with their high pitched twittering.

  • Simon
    2019-02-27 06:44

    Really wanted to give this 4.5 stars to be fair. I am not a fan of books about boats or the sea but I was utterly charmed and won over by this tale of whaling and love discovered amongst the blubber. Highly highly recommended.

  • Pamela
    2019-03-20 08:54

    Such a surprisingly great, bittersweet story - gently brutal, touchingly humorous, community and family celebratory, regionally rich, historically enlightening, redemptive and sagacious - and deserving of a highly complimentary review. Hopefully I'll get time to write such a review in the up coming days. Right now though, my plate is way overloaded. And it it's not all desserts."Sometimes I find in life we are all too ready to judge a person's worth on what we perceive of their demeanor or appearance or indeed their past history - " Despite my shortcomings for writing a more proper review, I hope it doesn't keep anyone from taking a chance on this fictional memoir, of sorts. An optimal breezy selection, if you enjoy: historical fiction with touches of whimsy, a bit of family drama, decorous hues of love, and if you can weather a bit of whaling industry gruesomeness because, Rush Oh! is a whale of a good tale. Yeah, I know, I'm cheesy.... FOUR **** Whale of a Good - historical and regionally unique - Tale **** STARSOther books pertaining to the whaling industry: The Widow's WarMoby-Dick; or, The WhaleIn the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

  • Carolyn
    2019-02-23 07:45

    This novel is very loosely based on the life of George 'Fearless' Davidson, Master Whaler of Eden. He was a real character born in 1936 and the third generation to take up whaling. He was married (and not a widow as in this book) and had eight children, none of whom feature as his offspring in the story.The novel tells the story of the whaling season of 1908, following on from several bad years, where George is struggling to keep his family and whalers fed. One of George's fictional daughters, Mary is the narrator and we see the struggles both in the bay and at home in her eyes. I very much enjoyed the historical aspects of this novel with the history of whaling showing both the heroic feats of the whalers but also the horrors of the capture and death of the whales. The involvement of the killer whales of Eden in helping the whalers by herding their larger cousins was also a fascinating story and one I've not heard before. The author has sprinkled her narrative with accounts of the whalers from the local papers and has given us an authentic feel of the life of a whaling town of 100 years ago. 3.5★

  • Marianne
    2019-03-05 05:49

    Rush Oh! is the first novel by Australian screenwriter, director and author, Shirley Barrett. it is based on the life of Eden whaler, George “Fearless” Davidson, although Barrett freely admits to taking liberties with known facts. Narrated by his nineteen-year-old daughter, Mary, it tells of the events of the 1908 whaling season in Twofold Bay, giving the reader a fairly comprehensive taste of the life of a whaler in the early twentieth century.As the eldest daughter of the widower, Mary is charged with taking care of her father, her Uncle Aleck and her five siblings, including the rather wilful sixteen-year-old Louisa, as well as providing meals for his whaling crew of five white men and five aboriginals. But as a young woman, Mary can’t help her own natural inclinations and her attraction to a newly arrived crew member, an ex-Methodist-minister, John Beck. But perhaps John is not quite all he seems.As Mary deals with the challenges posed by a poor whaling season, Louisa’s mercurial moods and her hopes for her own future, she finds herself in the unenviable position of possibly having done irredeemable damage to her family's only means of support.That Barrett has done extensive research is apparent on every page, as the reader learns a multitude of interesting facts about the whaling industry, about the behaviour of whales and killer whales, and the relationship between the indigenous people and killer whales.Barrett uses some marvellous descriptive prose: “My brother raised his harpoon with trembling hands. The notion of plunging such an implement into this mountain of a whale suddenly seemed ludicrous, like sticking a hatpin into an elephant….. he tossed his harpoon, but in his panicked state, it fell short and landed in the water with a dispiriting slap.” Some of Mary’s artwork is delightfully rendered by Matt Canning’s illustrations. As well as conveying the brutality and desperation that whaling entails, Barrett manages to include plenty of humour (the trip to Boyd Tower by the family, horse, cow and two dogs, one of which sits on the lovingly-made Madeira cake when the whole troupe is menaced by a broody magpie, being just one example), heartache (the loss of a brother, the estrangements within the family) and hope (Mary's longstanding faith in John Beck, and in her reunion with her sister).While the bulk of the narrative comprises Mary’s memories of 1908, the story is told from the more distant perspective of the now middle-aged Mary, living with her married sister in Ryde, and the penultimate chapter touches on the aftermath of that dramatic year, providing some resolution of questions unanswered. From something that started out as a screenplay, Barrett has created a marvellous debut novel.4.5★s

  • MaryannC.Book Fiend
    2019-03-19 04:46

    Despite the fact that this book centers around the barbaric act of whaling during the early 1900's when whales were prized for their oil and whalebones for corsets this was actually a homey, sort of old fashioned read. I enjoyed the voice of the narrator Mary and her family who live by the sea where her father and his whale men set out to hunt these gentle creatures. The book depicts a time when people lived a hard life and the sea and earth supplied their means of surviving. I enjoyed Mary's voice when she describes the food she has to cook for the whale men, the chores and even the hunts for the whales themselves which are pretty descriptive with all their gore. I found this to be an almost gentle read about her way of life and despite that, I didn't find it a boring read.

  • Jenny
    2019-03-03 09:56

    I did not expect to enjoy this book.... however I loved it.... it is flawed and there is a bit too much description of the whale killing.... but it is a great story. As it ended I began to think of the possibilities of a second book....

  • Kate
    2019-03-15 05:53

    Firstly, if you haven’t seen Shirley Barrett’s film, Love Serenade, stop everything and see it. It is truly one of the best Australian films. Best. Ever.If you appreciate the humour in Love Serenade, I’m quite certain you’ll love Barrett’s novel, Rush Oh!.Rush Oh! tells the story of Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of a prominent whaling family living in Eden on the rugged south coast of New South Wales. Mary narrates her family’s tumultuous experiences during 1908, a year that brings a tough whaling season (and ultimately the decline of the whaling industry in Eden), as well as drama off the seas.“I imagine the prospect of having to go out in all weather and row back and forth across the bay in endless pursuit of enraged leviathans must have seemed exceedingly grim…”I was thrown by the fact that a story about the gruesome, cruel practice of whaling can also be so charming and funny. Equally, I was not expecting to come across a heroine in Mary of the Jo March variety.Rush Oh! is compelling on many levels. Although the story is told by Mary, it belongs to the whales and in particular the pod of ‘Killers’ that live in Twofold Bay. The Killers are in fact Orcas (who the Aboriginal crew members greet as reincarnated ancestors), and amazingly they herd Humpback and Sperm whales into the Bay where the whalers and their harpoons await. The cooperation between the whalers and the Killers is drawn straight from Eden’s whaling history, but Barrett gives new perspective on the true facts with sketches, newspaper clippings and glorious descriptions of the individual Killer ‘personalities’, in particular, the leader of the pod, Tom –“There was no more welcome sound than the resounding smack! as Tom’s mighty tail crashed down upon the water. The men would cry, ‘Rush oh!’ and run to the whaleboats. Once the boats were put out, Tom (an impatient fish by nature) would lead them directly to the spot where his chums had corralled the whale.”Tom is wilful but frolicsome, and Barrett makes much of his shenanigans (for example, the superb aside on why Canberra was chosen as the capital of Australia instead of Eden). Of the great baleens making their way past Twofold Bay, Mary says they’re no match for the Killers –“It is necessary sometimes to remind oneself that these passing whales are undertaking an epic journey of many thousands of miles, for in fact they seem to dawdle and meander in the manner of recalcitrant schoolboys on their way to school; if there was a bottle, they would kick it. It is truly a wonder that they ever get anywhere.”Left motherless, Mary is in charge of caring for her younger siblings and cooking for the whalers. Times are tough and supplies are limited, so Mary makes do with mutton, bandicoot and a gruesome piece of salted beef that she rids of larder beetles before serving. While domestic duties dominate her time, winning the affections of mysterious new crew member, John Beck, occupies her mind –“I may not have yet mentioned that our visitor was remarkably handsome, and whalers as a rule were not celebrated for their good looks.”Barrett creates an exceptional character in Mary – she is practical, yet not immune to dreaming; she is naive in matters of the heart but, as the story progresses, you realise that her understanding of the world and what is just, is far deeper than you first assume. But it is in Mary’s sharp wit and unapologetic insights that Barrett elevates this character from good to truly outstanding.I loved the handful of scenes where Mary admits her (sometimes extremely petty) grudging of others –“Her hair was a pale straw yellow colour, her features dainty and her figure slender, with an overall effect which many found pleasing. (I myself value qualities such as kindness and consideration for others above mere symmetry of form; however, it seems I am out of step with public taste in this regard.)”Historical fiction truly succeeds if it has me searching the interwebs for more and I was astonished to discover that much of Rush Oh! is based on fact – Tom and the Killers existed, George ‘Fearless’ Davidson existed (although Mary is fictitious), and the landmarks that Barrett describes also exist. The use of newspaper clippings and Mary’s sketches give the story additional depth, as do particular historical touchstones such as the First World War and attitudes toward Indigenous Australians. But it’s the fine detail that sets Rush Oh! apart – we learn why a scarred whale should always be feared, the meaning of ‘boat-breakers’, how being neck-deep in rotting whale guts can ease rheumatism, why the black whale is the most valuable of all, and how to make a stubborn horse walk.Barrett does not shy away from the brutality of whale hunting but the details are tempered by Mary’s re-telling. It is through Mary and the fact that she is painfully aware that her family’s survival depends on the killing of whales, that Barrett delivers an appropriately pitched moral message.“For although I understood in principle the technicalities of whaling – the harpooning, the chase to exhaustion, the necessity of swift and vigorous lancing – I had never conceived, never understood, never imagined for one moment the horror of it all.”This book is not without faults but its charm outweighs any quibbles. I was completely immersed in the township of Eden in 1908 – its rallying for a big whale; the drama of the chase; the speculation and expectations that accompany first love – and Rush Oh! is one of the most memorable and unique books I’ve read.5/5 Everything you don’t expect from historical fiction.My review with pics and links is here: https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wo...

  • Andrea
    2019-03-11 05:50

    2.5★I was expecting to like this a bit more than I did. It started off really well - the story was great, the writing was fine - but ultimately I think it was the tone that dragged it down for me. This is a fictional memoir of Mary Davidson, fictional daughter of real-life character, George 'Fearless' Davidson, a whaler from the Eden region of NSW at the turn of the 20th century. Mary gives us an account of the 1908 whaling season, although the narrative wanders off to other periods as the story requires. Her descriptions of various whale chases and their aftermath are fabulous and seemed to be really detailed and authentic to me (who knew next to nothing about whaling), and I especially loved to read about the Killer whales' antics on Twofold Bay. I think the confiding tone of the book is a product of the memoir-style, and it was consistent throughout. While I enjoyed it at the start it just became a bit wearing after a while.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-03-04 12:02

    A debut novel in which an Australian whaler’s daughter looks back at 1908, a catastrophic whaling season but also her first chance at romance. I felt that additional narrators, such as a whaleman or an omniscient voice, would have allowed for more climactic scenes. Still, I found this gently funny, especially the fact that the family’s cow and horse are inseparable and must be together on any outing. There are some great descriptions of whales, too:Its ugly, misshapen head had the tumorous quality of an ancient anthill, or a tree stricken with abscesses. These tumors, one of which sat comically atop its head like a bonnet, were whitish in color with a quality similar to lichen, and within this lichen, odd dark stalagmites sprouted from which rivulets of water streamed. Its vast coal-scuttle mouth curved downwards, and at one end of this a tiny eye, rheumy like an old man’s, gazed up at them.As a rule, whales are distinctly bovine in temperament. If they lived in a paddock, they would stand about chewing their cud and staring into the middle distance.(Of orcas) Their amiable snub-nosed appearance seemed at stark odds with their viciousness.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-16 12:38

    This is such a special book. It’s charming, but not in a self-conscious way, with a wonderful first-person narrator and a sneaky emotional undertone. Rush Oh! follows the fortunes of the Davidsons, a whaling family in 1908 Australia. It gave me Jane Austen vibes, but without the archness – the whaling sections can be pretty gruesome, and the narrator’s descriptions of being earnest and awkward while flirting are painfully sharp. A fun, touching homage to a lost way of life, and to moments in time when we don’t realize how happy we are.

  • Angela Meyer
    2019-03-13 09:34

    I've long been fascinated by the relationship the killer whales had with the whalers in Eden (having read Danielle Clode's Killers in Eden years ago) and I was excited to learn about this novel. It's an enjoyable coming of age tale, told from the 1st person POV (with language suitable to the era) of the head whaler's daughter. The most absorbing, heart-in-mouth parts are Mary's recollections of the whale hunts. Otherwise, it's a gentle story of family, desire, struggle, loyalty, tradition and change, with a believable cast of characters and a plot that takes a few unexpected turns. It's a pleasant read, and anyone with a love and fascination of whales will definitely get something out of Rush Oh!.

  • Michael Livingston
    2019-02-27 06:58

    A slightly twee and hugely entertaining novel about the Davidson family, whalers in the town of Eden around the turn of the century. Based roughly on history, the book tells the tale of the killer whales of Eden who hunt cooperatively with the local whalers and is stuffed full of larger than life characters. It's not going to change your life, but it's a fun ride.

  • Anna
    2019-03-15 08:35

    I enjoyed this bittersweet and slightly quirky historical novel. The narrator, Mary Davidson, is a well-drawn character, likeable and relatable, even as she deals with challenges and disappointments. The other characters are also well-rounded, many of them with fallibilities that demonstrate the author's understanding of human nature, and at times provide a healthy dose of humour.The author has clearly undertaken close research into whaling at Eden in the early 20th century, and it provides a fascinating backdrop to the story. I did find the descriptions of the whale hunting and killing bit hard to take, though I think they were a necessary part of the narrative. The author seems to recognise that these sections will be challenging, through the response of some characters when they realise what is actually involved, and also in her Author's Note at the end of the book, in which she describes contemporary media accounts of the cases as 'tough reading, at once exciting and horrifying'.Overall I found this to be an interesting and enjoyable novel.

  • Lauren (Shakespeare & Whisky)
    2019-03-01 06:54

    3.5 Stars.This novel had a delightful and very strong voice. The conversational tone is sweet and engaging. The setting is beautifully rendered. And considering how troublesome the topic is (whaling) it is incredibly sensitive and even handed in its exploration of this unique time and place. This is essentially a novel about family and it has a melancholic tone and a bitter sweet ending. I really enjoyed this novel.

  • Helen King
    2019-02-22 08:46

    A lovely, gentle story (despite some of the graphic scenes about the whaling). Provides insight into life in early twentieth century South East NSW, including the dynamics within families, small towns, a small business, and between humans and other species. Beautiful writing, and I loved the touches of humour. It's inspired me to visit this part of the world, hopefully soon.

  • Stephen
    2019-03-05 07:03

    Rush Oh! is a more adult version Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books—with whales!—and I mean that as a compliment.Wilder’s books are written from the perspective of an older author telling the story of her youth through the eyes of her younger self. They describe the charm and challenges of settling the American frontier in the 1880s and 90s, and are beloved by readers.Barret uses the same formula in Rush Oh! to describe the life of the Davidsons, a whaling family from Eden, New South Wales, Australia, through the eyes of nineteen year old Mary Davidson. From newspaper articles about Eden, the Davidsons and whaling in general, Barrett constructs a extraordinary account of a single season of whaling in 1908.To be clear, Rush oh! not a story of commercial whaling in big vessels traversing the globe ala Moby Dick. The Davidson's whaling sounds fantastical by comparison. They whaled exclusively in small oared boats in the coastal waters of Twofold Bay. They whaled with the direct help of killer whales! In a symbiotic relationship with the Davidson's, the killer would chase humpback, minke and right whales into the bay, and hound them until the Davidson’s could take to their boats and harpoon them. The whalers would then let the killers feed on the carcass before hauling it ashore to harvest what remained for whale oil and bone. The killer whales of Two Fold Bay where so well known and distinctive to local residents, they were considered friends. Each was named and could be recognized on sight.The summer of 1908 is a stressful for the Davidson’s. Few whales enter the bay. Money is tight. Eliza’s mother has died leaving her to manage the family and feed the whalers. A new crew member proves distracting. Eliza’s sister sparks a scandal. Much for the somewhat naive Mary to contend with.Barrett expertly balances the drama of her tale, with compassion and humor. Some passages are laugh out loud funny. For example, the sermon (interrupted) of John Beck:Today I would like to talk on the subject of Temptation…For who among us has not been buffeted by temptations?Father since you ask, I have not been buffeted by temptation in a long time.Me either.I would very much like to be buffeted by temptation, but sadly no one is buffeting me.I wonder if we could get to the business off praying for a whale.Yes, in a moment—I understand that some of you may not have to church in some time and may have forgotten the procedure, but the the idea is I talk on a theme for twenty minutes or so—generally there are no interruptions—then we might have another prayer and a hymn or two. Does that sound all right?Yes, Yes, by all means.As I was explaining, whilst I was serving as a minister of the Methodist church, I was greatly buffeted by temptation.Bragging.Would this be some of the ladies of the congregation buffeting you, Father.Yes, in fact is was…You see, my difficultly was that I have always been burdened with a natural susceptibility to whatever is amiable in a woman.More bragging.Well, not really bragging—you see, it is my undoing and the reason that I now stand before you as an oarsman in the Number Two boat.There’s no shame in being an oarsman, Father. I have been an oarsman for nigh on fifteen years and proud of it.What he means is he’s only oarsman in the Number Two boat.Oh, so the Number Two boat isn’t good enough for you?No, you have me all wrong. What I mean is, I am now an oarsman—forget the Number Two boat— where once I was a minister of the Methodist church.And that makes you better than us, does it?…Back to the buffeting, if I may. What were the ladies doing exactly?I have no wish to go into details—Could we please pray for a whale now?Bottom-line: A fun and fascinating read about a time and place I was completely unaware of. On my buy, borrow, skip scale: A strong borrow.

  • Ericka Seidemann
    2019-03-20 09:03

    Rush OH! is the battle cry when one sees a whale – a call to arms to run to the boats.Set in the early 1900s in New South Wales, Rush OH! is a snippet of history when whalemen along the Australian coast would rush the waters to lance their fortunes. Unlike in America, the whalemen were not gone from their homes for years at a time, but instead lived along the coast to chase the whales near shore.This is the tale of the life Mary Davidson, the 19-year-old daughter of a brave whaling captain, who lives among the oarsmen boarding in her home. Mary is learning her role in the family after the death of her mother: she must cook and feed the crew, take care of her younger siblings, and parcel out her feelings for one new whaler in particular, John Beck. Rush OH! is a coming-of-age tale based loosely on historical anecdotes from the area, including one Killer whale named Tom who assisted the whalemen in herding and trapping the whales.There are humorous stories of the whale crew, but there are also some dark corners in the backgrounds of these men. The feast-or-famine life of whaling is full of hardships, and often attracts men who have nothing left to lose. I appreciated the care taken to create an atmosphere in this story: the description of the flensing of the whales, the excitement and fear of the whale hunt, and also the depictions of the Australian coastline with local flora and fauna. The descriptions and inclusions are necessary to the story without being pedantic, which makes for a compelling setting. The characters also represent the differences of interpretation of whaling and how the fear, adrenaline, and desperation can affect people in different ways.This is a quick read sprinkled with small illustrations that add to the vintage feel of the book. I really enjoyed this one.

  • Iris Bratton
    2019-03-08 08:59

    4.5/5 STARSA fun and moving coming-of-age story!Oh how I loved this book! It's such a thorough and entertaining piece of historical fiction. The narrative is so well-told that I flew through this in one day. It was impossible to put down as it was filled with action, comedy and a tidbit of romance. It was a pure delight to glimpse into the Davidson family and to share with them in the moments of love, loss and action-packed whaling adventure! This is such a charming read. What I especially loved about this book, was the thorough detail about the animals. Being one who personally has worked with marine mammals, I can tell that Shirley Barrett did her research. My only issue with the book:Orcas are MAMMALS, not fish. Okay, I'll stop being pompous now...But I really loved the sheer respect for the animals. It's true that although these characters poach whales for profit, they never degraded them of their immense power. The whalers proceed with caution and don't attempt ventures with animals who are too dangerous. They understand the strength and danger of wronging the whales. The characters respected the ocean and its inhabitants in a way that most people don't really give them credit for. I love the character development in this, as well, as each character is unique. The only real issue I had with it was there was a large amount of emphasis of only a few characters in the Davidson family. Mary's household consists of 5 brothers and sisters and her father. She only goes into large detail about 3 or 4 of her family members and speaks of others merely in passing. I understand that the author did this to keep the story focused, but when events occur with the secondary characters, I don't know much about them to really care what becomes of them. However, the characters that are highlighted are vibrant and engaging. The diversity of characters makes for some hilarious moments. I constantly found myself smiling and even laughing out loud at certain points. The characters are far from what most would consider "normal," which definitely adds to the story's originality.I found the book to be unique in its use of article excerpts and sketches by Mary. They were an enjoyable edition to the novel as the sketches were beautiful and the excerpts quaint. My only concern was the fact that although Mary's art skills are strongly emphasized in the beginning, nothing about the story really alludes to the necessity of it. Despite its flippancy, it was pleasantly unconventional, much like the characters in the book, and gives it charm. What I love most about Rush Oh! is its ability to capture special moments in the life of these characters. I felt the emotions as the group went through hardships and happiness. Even my stone cold heart melted at the budding of new love and heartbreak. That's got to mean it's good right? At the heart of it all, this book is about family and the connection with the sea. These two things are very dear to me, thus I highly esteem this novel. It's very well put together and very well paced. I recommend this book to those who enjoy the action scenes of Moby Dick, or those who like the family dynamics of Pride and Prejudice. This book is definitely for you! It's a delightful read and a perfect book for the summer.

  • Caspette
    2019-03-05 08:42

    Oh I wish we could give half stars! The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because I'm not sold on the ending.This is a sweet, funny and often brutal book about a Whaling family in Eden NSW. Based on true events it is the memoirs of the eldest daughter Mary who is recalling predominantly the whaling season of 1908 (her story does wander to other years from time to time). While the father is based on a real person the rest of the family (and even his story line to a degree) are completely made up. The book documents the trials the family faces, and events that shape their lives. I really liked Mary and her telling of the story, I felt for her and hoped for a happy ending. The writing was so descriptive and enjoyable, I laughed every time she talked about the Plover's (a type of bird) as the descriptions were so accurate. These often funny moment out weight the few brutal scenes that are in the book.The reading of the whale kills were a little difficult as was the whalers attitude towards it. It is probably hard for someone like me who has only known whales as a protected species and not an income source, to wrap my mind around how they could enjoy the hunt, and how proud the town was of the whalers. Certainly I realised there was a lot more skill to whaling then I had previously thought about. These scenes are uncomfortable to read but are important to the book, whaling is their life, everything depends on it and to see the complicated relationship whalers had with whales was also interesting.My only negative about this book is that the author didn't wrap up some introduced story threads. It was like she dangled a piece of chocolate in my face the whipped it away. I really want to know what happened but I guess I am supposed to guess. But really this was a minor quibble.

  • Eric Anderson
    2019-03-16 05:56

    I enjoy it when novels clue me into fascinating new facts about the past. Shirley Barrett’s novel “Rush Oh!” takes place in the rural township of Eden in Australia. From a future point, Mary recounts the story of whaling season in the year 1908 so that her nephew can have a feeling for this defunct way of life. Her father George Davidson is a local hero as he leads whaling expeditions along the coast whenever they are spotted during their migration. What’s so interesting is that Barrett bases her story on a real arrangement where teams of men worked in conjunction with a group of local Killer whales. The Killer whales corralled blue, humpback or right whales into the bay so that the whalers could harpoon them. The Killer whales got to feast on the meat and the whalers took the rest of the carcass to use the blubber and bones. It’s a curious pact between men and beasts for a common cause. Barrett has brought to life a story about this rare arrangement which is filled with adventure and romance.Read my full review of Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett on LonesomeReader

  • Eleanor
    2019-03-17 06:03

    The first thing that struck me about Rush Oh! was: this is a happy, happy book. That doesn’t mean it’s a book with a happy ending (although I would say that this isn’t a book with an unhappy ending, either). It means simply that the writing was obviously done with great pleasure and good humour, and the effect is contagious. In an industry that can seem saturated by serious, hard, important reads, Shirley Barrett’s glorious debut—about a whaling family in Australia at the turn of the twentieth century, based on a true story—is a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t shy away from difficult reality, but she doesn’t let the plot twists diminish the joy and the comedy that suffuse its pages. It’s unbelievably lovely.Read the rest of the review here:

  • Terri
    2019-02-22 06:55

    I happened to flick through the Bailey's Prize longlist whilst on a recent browse through Dymocks, and so walked out this this gem of a book. Written by an Australian author, and all to do with whales - I was sold. I probably didn't quite register that Rush Oh! is not just about whales, but whaling, and so the graphic violence and gore of the trade as happened in the early 1900s NSW town of Eden was a bit of a shock to start with. Luckily, Shirley Barrett's main character Mary Davidson is an utterly charming narrator, and her story of the 1908 whaling season - and everything else that transpired for the Davidson family that year - is endearing, fascinating and told with a welcome splash of dry humour. A gorgeous read.

  • Kate
    2019-02-28 06:43

    Despite the whaling theme, which did put me off until I remembered how much I love Moby Dick, this is such a light and entertaining read - so much fun and beautifully wriiten, illustrated gorgeously throughout. Richly evocative of its time and place.

  • Anne
    2019-03-18 05:38

    Enjoyed the first 2/3, the parts about the whaling and Mary's budding romance with one of the whalers. But the last third veered away from these storylines and the ending just kind of sputtered out. An interesting bit of historical fiction. Fun, unique.

  • Gayla Bassham
    2019-03-09 09:56

    I started this book feeling a little skeptical, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, largely because of the wry, thoughtful first-person perspective. The plot isn't earth-shattering, but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in Mary's company.

  • Kathryn
    2019-03-01 09:37

    This one was a slow start, and for anyone who doesn’t like reading about whales being injured, it probably isn’t worth persisting (or starting it in the first place). It took me a while to appreciate the main character, Mary’s humour. It was certainly very dry although I got the impression that some of the things that amused me were things that she was serious about!I hadn’t thought before about there being Australian whalers - whaling in my lifetime (or at least what I can remember) has only been done by the Japanese, since it is now illegal in Australian waters. It was interesting to read of the role of killer whales in the task of catching a whale, as well as the bizarre use for whale blubber in curing rheumatism (I think it was) where the sufferer was immersed in the rotting carcass of the whale covering the point of the pain!However, I was less interested in the specifics of whaling than I was in Mary’s story, her life cooking for the whalers and keeping house for her father and younger siblings and her interest in John Beck. I forgot to write a review for this soon after finishing, and now I’m finding it difficult to recall details, however, I think there were some ends that could have been tied together a little more neatly than they were. 3.5★

  • Sabina
    2019-03-14 04:36

    4.5 stars, for sheer enjoyment.Styled as the (fictional) memoirs of Mary Davidson, daughter of master whaler George Davidson, complete with drawings and newpaper clippings, the book essentially chronicles the whaling season of 1908 in Eden, New South Wales. We hear about the everyday lives of the Davidson family, their struggle to make ends meet, the romantic entanglements of the older Davidson girls, as well as the harrowing reality of the hunt for whales. We also hear about the curious alliance formed between the whalers and a pod of Orcas who assist with the hunt. And this is where my interest came in, as this is based on real events. While the author changed the Davidson family considerably for dramatic purposes (I think only "Fearless George" is real), the interactions with the Orcas are taken from directly from newspaper articles and family memoirs. For about 100 years a family of Killer whales helped three generations of Davidsons catch whales, until whaling was suspended. They would herd whales into the bay at Eden, alert the whalers to their presence and then help kill the whale. The book was in turn hilarious, brutal, sad and uplifting. I learned a lot more than I wanted to about the horrific details of catching a whale, but I also came to love the characters in this story and I will really miss them. The killer whales were certainly characters as well, especially Tom, and I'm glad the author described their nature and way of life in a realistic manner rather than presenting them as delightful pets. I also loved the writing which was suited to the era. An enjoyable and informative read about a vanished way of life.

  • Mike
    2019-03-20 12:38

    George ‘Fearless’ Davidson was a whaler who lived in Twofold Bay, Australia, from the late 1900s to the middle of the 20th century. His exploits can be read in the archives of the Eden Observer and South Coast Advocate. This novel treats George’s history with considerable looseness, even turning him from a long-married man into a widower with half a dozen children, (instead of the eight he actually had). His fictional eldest daughter, Mary, is the narrator. She has a delightful sense of humour, and though some of what she writes is based on fact, most of it is fiction. The story focuses on a year in the early part of the 20th century when the whales decided to make very few appearances in the Bay, leaving the whalers and their families eking out a rather perilous existence, and having to go cap in hand to the local ‘price cutter’ store. The whaling scenes are dealt with in detail and swerve between hilarious highs and appalling lows. The personalities of the whalers and the killer whales that assist them, are strongly drawn. The Davidson cottage also has a number of animals attached, some intentionally, some not. Their personalities shine as brightly as those of the humans. The book is also a love story. A former Methodist minister, John Beck, turns up one afternoon to offer his services on one of George’s two whaling boats. He has no experience at whaling, and it’s possible he’s had no experience of being a Methodist minister either. His chequered past is hinted at by different characters in the story, but each one has an altogether different version. Mary spends a good deal of time insisting she hasn’t fallen in love with him, but of course she has. The book appears loosely constructed, yet the narrative drive is such that it easily becomes a page turner. Very enjoyable.

  • Anne
    2019-03-09 11:00

    After a glut of crime, psychological thrillers and contemporary fiction over the past few months, I found it a little difficult at first to settle into this story of the life of a whaling family in 1908 New South Wales, Australia. However, Shirley Barrett's writing is marvellously engaging, and it really wasn't that long at all before I found myself firmly immersed in Mary Davidson's story.George 'Fearless' Davidson is famous in Australia, but I have to admit that his story, and the whole whaling industry is something that I had never come across before. However, Shirley Barrett has created such a wonderful voice in young Mary that I found myself totally entralled and caught up in the life of this unusual family.Mary is funny and bright, she's taken on a lot of responsibilities during her short life. Things are not easy for her and her family, yet her humour and capacity to see the best in things shines through. Mary's clumsy and naive attempts to attract the attention of new crew man John Beck are endearing, and the reader can't help but cheer her along.I don't want to mislead anyone though and it is to be remembered that Rush Oh! is so much more than just a coming of age story. Whaling is not a gentle occupation, it involves violence and can be brutal at times, and Shirley Barrett perfectly incorporates this into her carefully researched and elegantly written story.Along with her superbly created human characters, the author also expertly brings to life Tom, the leader of the pack of Killer Whales. The almost magical connection and co-operation between Tom and the other whales, seemingly working in partnership with the men of the whaling crew is quite stunning.Rush Oh! is a striking story which captures the era and the history so well, from the food, to the language to the landscape.http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox...