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A Fortunate Life - A.B. Facey

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Published: April 2005
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Published: 20th April 2005
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Booktopia Comments

The Booktopia Book Guru Recommends - A Fortunate Life
Everyone should read this book.

Book Description

Born in 1894, Facey lived the rough frontier life of a sheep farmer, survived the gore of Gallipoli, raised a family through the Depression and spent sixty years with his beloved wife, Evelyn. Despite enduring hardships we can barely imagine today, Facey always saw his life as a 'fortunate' one.

A true classic of Australian literature, his simply written autobiography is an inspiration. It is the story of a life lived to the full – the extraordinary journey of an ordinary man.

The autobiography begins at his birth. He was born in Maidstone, Victoria, Australia. His father died on the Goldfields of Western Australia in 1896 of typhoid fever and Albert's mother left her children to the care of their grandmother shortly afterwards. In 1899 he moved from Victoria to Western Australia with his grandmother and three of his six older siblings. Most of his childhood was spent in the Wickepin area.

He started working on farms at the age of eight and had little education and therefore could not read or write. As a child he taught himself to read and write. By the age of 14 he was an experienced bushman, and at 18 a professional boxer. He was badly injured at Gallipoli in August 1915 during the First World War, in which two of his brothers were killed. While recuperating he met his future wife Evelyn Gibson and they were married in Bunbury in August 1916. The Faceys lived in East Perth before returning to Wickepin six years later with their children, where they lived until 1934. The couple had seven children - the eldest, Barney, was killed during the Second World War - and twenty-eight grandchildren.

A Fortunate Life is an autobiographical novel written by Albert Facey and was written in 1981 (nine months before his death) and tells the complete story of his life. It chronicles his early life in Western Australia, his experiences as a private during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I and his return to civilian life after the war. It also documents his extraordinary life of hardship, loss, friendship and love. During the initial days of its publication, Albert Facey became a nationwide celebrity.

Despite his renowned life, Facey considered his life to be simple and "had no idea what all the fuss was about". He received many letters and appeared on many talk shows. He notably became one of Australia’s most famous heroes. When asked on an interview, where the name of the book originated. He replied, "I called it 'A Fortunate Life' because I truly believe that is what I had".

After its great reception it has become a classic piece of Australian literature and is one of Australia’s most beloved books. Since its publication in 1981 it has become a primary account of the Australian experience during World War I. It is also featured in many primary and public schools as a reading book for young adults. Awards and Honours

Albert Facey and A Fortunate Life have been the recipients to a host of award nominations since the initial publication of the book but have only won two major book awards. It was first awarded the 1981 Banjo Award for Australian Literature and then the New South Wales Literacy Award also for that year. The book was also named as Australia's number 10 on ABC's My Favourite Book list.

About the Author

A.B. Facey was born in 1894 and grew up on the Kalgoorlie goldfields and in the wheat-belt of Western Australia. His father died before he was two and he was deserted by his mother soon afterwards. He was looked after by his grandmother until he was eight years old, when he went out to work. His many jobs included droving, hammering spikes on the railway line from Merredin to Wickepin and boxing in a travelling troupe. He was in the Eleventh Battalion at the Gallipoli landing; after the war, he became a farmer under the Soldier Settlement Scheme but was forced off the land during the Depression. He joined the tramways and was active in the Tramways Union. Facey, who had no formal education, taught himself to read and write. He made the first notes of his life soon after World War I, and filled notebooks with his accounts of his experiences. Finally, on the urging of his daughter, Barbara Rose, the hand-written manuscript was submitted to the Fremantle Arts Centre Press to see 'if they could print a few copies for the family'. They very soon found they had a bestseller on their hands! Albert died in 1982, nine months after A Fortunate Life had been published, and his daughter Barbara died in 2010.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
A Fortunate Life
 
4.8

(based on 8 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Deserves multiple readings (8)
  • Engaging characters (5)
  • Well written (3)

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Gift (5)
    • Older readers (5)
    • Travel reading (3)
    • Younger readers (3)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Bookworm (4), Everyday reader (3)

    Reviewed by 8 customers

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    5.0

    A very fortunate life

    By Loves a good read

    from Portland VIC

    About Me Bookworm

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Deserves Multiple Readings
    • Engaging Characters

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about A Fortunate Life:

        What an amazing life and a trip into history

        Comment on this review

         
        5.0

        A book you can't put down

        By Tracy

        from Sydney, AU

        About Me Bookworm

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Engaging Characters
        • Page Turner

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about A Fortunate Life:

            This is one of those books that was enjoyable and touching to read

            Comment on this review

             
            5.0

            A book every Australian should read

            By Tree

            from Melbourne

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Deserves Multiple Readings
            • Engaging Characters
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Older Readers
              • Travel Reading
              • Younger Readers

              Comments about A Fortunate Life:

              I've been catching up with some of the ABC Book Show's Top Australian Books, and given the synopsis of "A Fortunate Life" was a little surprised by the high rating it received. After finishing it, I totally understand. Bert Facey's life story is remarkable, but told in an unremarkable and matter of fact style. And when you consider he was essentially illiterate until late in his youth his achievement is amazing. He barely experienced a childhood, and worked from his early teens, experienced the horrors of Gallipoli, the trials of the depression and captures first hand the story of early 20th century Western Australia both urban and rural. The story is told simply and yet is supremely moving. I didn't expect to be as engaged by such a simple story, but I was. This book is a must read.

              Comment on this review

               
              5.0

              Wonderful

              By Lyn

              from Melbourne, Australia

              About Me Everyday Reader

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Deserves Multiple Readings

              Cons

              • More On Later Life

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Older Readers
              • Reference
              • Special Needs
              • Travel Reading
              • Younger Readers

              Comments about A Fortunate Life:

              Book club choice but I had heard excerpts on radio in middle of night (774) but missed a lot by sleeping. Was anxious to read book and not disappointed.

              Comment on this review

               
              5.0

              A Must Read

              By Sal

              from Melbourne, AU

              About Me Bookworm

              Pros

              • Deserves Multiple Readings

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about A Fortunate Life:

                  A must read for every Aussie. I read this book in High School and loved it! Read it again recently and loved it even more.

                  Comment on this review

                   
                  5.0

                  Absolutely fabulous,a must read for all

                  By Lyn

                  from Newcastle

                  About Me Casual Reader

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Deserves Multiple Readings
                  • Well Written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                    • Gift
                    • Older Readers

                    Comments about A Fortunate Life:

                    Great book. Every Australian should read this.

                    Comment on this review

                     
                    4.0

                    Insight into extraordinary times

                    By Agent

                    from Brisbane

                    About Me Everyday Reader

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Deserves Multiple Readings
                    • Engaging Characters
                    • Page Turner
                    • Well Written

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                      • Gift
                      • Older Readers
                      • Reference
                      • Travel Reading
                      • Younger Readers

                      Comments about A Fortunate Life:

                      A B Facey went through the mill on so many levels. He was made of the stuff hard to find in people today, and should be made known to those who think life is tough.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      4.0

                      A wonderful view into the past in WA

                      By Millie

                      from Adelaide

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Deserves Multiple Readings
                      • Engaging Characters

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Gift
                        • Older Readers

                        Comments about A Fortunate Life:

                        A wonderful book describing country Western Australia from 1899 to 1981. Excellent, down to earth writing by a man who never had formal schooling. A must for any person who would like to re-live the 'old' days in WA.

                        Comment on this review

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                        ISBN: 9780143003540
                        ISBN-10: 0143003542
                        Audience: General
                        Format: Paperback
                        Language: English
                        Number Of Pages: 432
                        Published: April 2005
                        Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.1  x 3.2
                        Weight (kg): 19.8