Rush Oh! tells the unforgettable tale of a close knit whaling community in New South Wales, where a bright young woman struggles with sibling rivalry, a stern father, and falling in love with John Beck, a man with a shady past - all against the harshly uncompromising and astonishingly delineated backdrop of a 1908 whaling enterprise.
Eldest daughter Mary tells us her story as a loving document of remembrance, ostensibly for her younger relatives, but as the pages pass we learn how her fierce longing for the itinerant John Beck and the growing complexity of her relationship with her glamorous sister Louisa, herself involved in a forbidden love affair, have shaped and moulded her.
Shirley Barrett's debut novel is a celebration of an exceptional episode in Australian history, when a pod of Killer whales and a family of whalers formed a fond, unique allegiance - the Killer whales, each given individual names and personalities, actually helped the whalers to ensnare their prey in return for the first pickings of the captured animal.
Shirley Barrett is best known for her work as a screenwriter and director. Shirley's first film, Love Serenadewon the Camera D'Or (Best First Feature) at Cannes Film Festival in 1996. The script for her most recent filmSouth Solitary won the Queensland Premier's Prize (script) 2010, the West Australian Premier's Literary Prize (script) 2010, and the West Australian Premier's Prize 2010. RUSH OH! is Shirley's first novel. She lives in Sydney, Australia.
Beautiful and brutal, witty and kind, Rush Oh! is a story of great surprises and a beating heart - a book never to forget
Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief
Hugely funny and peopled with a cast of characters I came to love like my own friends, Rush Oh! reminded me why I love reading
Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites
Cinematic. The tale of a whaling family, its scope is ambitious and its heart big. You'll fall in love
Marie Claire (Australia)
A memorable, often heart-in-mouth debut that's brought to life by Mary's humour, her self-awareness and her accompanying illustrations
A rollicking seaborne ride . . . humorous, imaginative and tender, you'll want to race through Rush Oh! to find out what happens
Fresh, funny and lively
This beautifully written Australian novel narrated by whaler's daughter Mary Davidson is funny, quirky and features a cast of characters that includes a pod of Killers. A charming debut
A novel that is thick with briny flavour. Best of all are the descriptions of the whale hunts, which are steeped in a luxurious, bracing horror
Rush Oh!'s strengths are manifold. It's a nostalgic, quirky book - peppered with stunning illustrations and seamless inclusion of actual newspaper excerpts from the time - that really captures an intriguing moment in Australia's past. Expertly balancing light and dark, Barrett confronts the moral complexities of whaling while simultaneously sketching a range of hilarious character portraits, and maintaining an endearing, and often challenging, narrative voice. This novel is a fairytale for adults, which I found poignant, funny and original
While depicting the danger, adrenaline and excitement of the boat chases, [Rush Oh!] also repeatedly celebrates the beauty of these magnificent creatures, mourning the cruelty involved in hunting and killing them
Just the ticket, particularly if you like a bit of comedy with your mammal spearing action
A charming, irreverent and totally absorbing read