Shouldn’t every story have a happy ending?
It's March 1985 and Nicky Starling is turning eight, but it's a sad day. Nicky's grandmother Didie has just died. Almost worse - his father's beloved football team has lost the first match of the season.
Nicky will miss Didie but he still has Rose, Didie's nurse. He wishes he could love footy, but what he really loves are the tales of King Arthur and stories from Shakespeare that his mother reads to him and that he acts out in his bedroom. But these stories don't have happy endings, an alarming fact for a boy whose family life is starting to fracture.
Funny, tender and savage, The Starlings is a wonderfully entertaining novel about secrets and defeat, about heroism and love, about what it might mean to lose everything.
About the Author
Vivienne Kelly was born and educated in Melbourne, where she now lives. She has worked at the University of Melbourne and at Monash University, and was awarded a doctorate for her work on myth and history in Australia. She is the author of Cooee, shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year Awards, and, most recently, The Starlings.
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The Starlings is the second novel by Australian author, Vivienne Kelly. March 31st, 1985 marked Nicky Starling's eighth birthday. Unfortunately, it also marked the day his grandmother died, and things began to change in his life. A chance encounter some thirty years later brings flooding back all the memories of the year Nicky tried so hard to forget.
Up until then, life was pretty good: school (OK); keeping out of his moody older sister's way (not unusual); experiencing, with his mum, the joy of Arthurian Legends, Shakespeare, Dickens, Lamb and more (just wonderful); doing big complicated jigsaw puzzles with his Grandpa, and Grandma's nurse, Rose (always anticipated with pleasure); and retreating to his room to enact, with his Heroes of the Cosmos figurines & sister's discarded Barbie dolls, his own versions of the Arthurian tales and Shakespeare, but with happier endings (his absolute favourite pastime).
Of course, not everything was great: his Grandma, Didie could be sharp and unfriendly (no fun); his father thought him a sissy, so nights brought Nicky's home-grown remedy to build his manliness, the Unscared Game (unsuccessful); and his Hawthorn-mad dad wanted him to attend football matches (dreaded but endured). "I desperately wished to feel some inkling of the emotions that weekly wracked my father and turned his life into a shimmering feast of joy or a murderously arid desert… All was madness and joy and yet I could view it only from outside… The beast that was the crowd roared, snatched my father, plunged its claws into him, lifted him and tossed him through the glittering air. Me it ignored"
Kelly gives the reader a story filled with everyday events and populated with ordinary people. Her portrayal of a (somewhat precocious) eight-year-old boy (self-absorbed, confused by ambiguity of English, desperate to please those he loves and to keep the peace) is very realistic. She sets her tale against the background of the '85 football season, and in keeping wit
'Football, the plays of Shakespeare and Arthurian legends are all interwoven in this story. The author draws links between Nicky's disintegrating family life, the antics on the footy field and the tales of yore...I liked reading about the exploits of the players, who these days appear on our screens as commentators. It was also very touching to see Frank, who seemed to care only for his beloved Hawks, step up and support the emotional needs of his children when things started to go wrong.' Readings 'Nourished by a diet of Shakespeare, Arthurian legend, football fanaticism and his own family's dramas, the first original play that ultimately emerges from Nicky Starling's eight-year-old brain is an utterly delightful, laugh-out-loud creation. Fans of Kelly's Cooee will not be disappointed: The Starlings is another brilliant offering from this talented Australian author.' BookMooch 'Vivienne Kelly's first novel Cooee was a corruscatingly clever black comedy on hubris and the hidden costs of getting your heart's desire. Her second is a gentler but no less insightful interrogation of the things with which we console ourselves, creating meaning in humdrum lives.' SA Weekend 'She's been very clever in the way she's written it...I found it lovely.' Radio New Zealand 'Kelly has created a realistic family-dysfunctional in both unique and universal ways-that is battling through the days, with each member trying to fit into a family dynamic while retaining their individuality...Full points for the creation of Nicky, a sensitive and rather lonely boy doing his best to please the adults in his life and wise beyond his years. A fitting narrator for this suburban family drama.' Weekly Times 'The Starlings is bittersweet, clever and observant...a crash course in Aussie rules for the uninitiated.' Otago Daily Times 'There's a dark current of sardonic realism underpinning this funny and touching novel.' Sydney Morning Herald Sydney Morning Herald
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 3rd April 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing Co
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.4 x 3.1
Weight (kg): 0.48