Reviews of “Thursday’s Child”

Here you will find reviews I have received for my second historical novel, “Thursday’s Child”. Thank you so much to those who have been wonderful in sharing their thoughts on and appreciation for this book. It means a lot to me.

 

 

 

An ordinary life lived extraordinarily well…

Review by Carol Rose, 24.06.2018

This is a story that had to be written. If only for all those girls and women who have suffered unwanted pregnancy, and had to search for some sort of resolution in ordinary life, under the Rule of the Fathers.

Set in 1960s Australia, it is a story in which the reader companions fifteen year old Victoria(Tori) as she wakes in a dark railway tunnel to realisation of what has befallen her; as she attempts to reckon with herself, her parents, her school mates, her ambitions, and various oppressive Authorities; as she “escapes” to Sydney city and meets strangers who help her…and others who frighten her. We cheer, perhaps, as she beats the daylights out of her rapist. Perhaps we enjoy that final reckoning, as Tori’s Dad gives warning, as men do, to the cowardly attacker of his daughter, with fists, feet, blood-letting, and public humiliation.

Perhaps The Contraceptive Pill, The Morning-After Pill, and the New Masculinity have changed the world for victims of rape. Or perhaps the problems have multiplied, along with internet promotion and normalising of pornography, of cyber-bullying on must-have i-phones, of global trafficking in girls and women, pregnant and otherwise, and of the demise of those women’s refuges that began in the 1970s and “flourished” in the 1980s. These days, is it likely that a girl suffering unwanted pregnancy might go to Central Station and be rescued by one of the Sisterhood? Or would she more likely be trafficked, quick smart?

These broad questions aside, Tori’s journey is more than physical. It is an active and en-spiriting journey. She grapples with shame and disgust after having been raped, rails against the unwelcome foetus seeded by a violent stranger she hates, comes to care for the helpless being alive inside her, and learns that “family” is more than biology, and can be chosen. Tori emerges from her journey as a more loving and responsible person, someone who can live with optimism, even through suffering. Moreover, Tori demonstrates a willingness to change, even under oppression. It is clear that Tori is well able to live ordinary life extraordinarily well.

Clearly this is a book for girls and women. I wonder how it will be received by men, and all those “little men”? Is biology destiny? What would it take to change the world, to make it a more peaceful and gentle place in which rapism is unthinkable.

Can Tim Winton make masculinity gentler? Has John Stoltenberg impressed with his explorations of Manhood, his invitation that male persons reform to value Justice above Manhood, refuse to be Men?

Linda Visman’s story of the plight and journey of Thursday’s child in 1960s Australia is engaging, credible, and well-crafted.

Thank you, Linda, for a very good read, that raises many questions about the sort of society we live in, and how we might change our world to make it into a more gentle and equitable place, especially for girls and women.

 

 

From Linda Ireland, former high school English teacher:

Linda Visman’s “Thursday’s Child”, reviewed by Linda Ireland in Morisset and Peninsula Bulletin, April, 2018

Issues of rape, unwanted pregnancy, the rights of the child, the constraints of poverty and of family dysfunction are still very real concerns in modern Australia. It is easy to forget how hard it was for a young girl dealing with these issues before the feminist movement gave voice to them.

“One day, the times we live in now will be history to our children and grandchildren .” So goes an early conversation between a trusted teacher and 15 year old Tori as she struggles to make sense of her own present and a recent horrific past event. The consequences of this event become the basis of the story and its themes.

One of the strengths of Linda Visman’s  second young adult novel, “Thursday’s Child”, is the way in which it brings to life the realities of what it was like in the early 1960’s for an adolescent girl facing challenges on multiple fronts.

Told from Tori’s perspective, sometimes as narrator, sometimes as diarist, the story aligns the reader with her plight from the first pages. It speaks to its times with raw honesty and truth.

Yet this is a novel for today. It comes published amidst a resurgence of feminist outrage against sexism and abuse as voiced in #MeToo and in inspiring rhetoric from stages and screens, often from women empowered by feminism, wealth and fame. Visman’s novel speaks its own less public truths as it charts what it was like in another era to experience the world as a bright girl trapped in a dysfunctional family by circumstances which constantly remind her of her own powerlessness and lack of choice.

It was not enlightened social attitudes that could save a woman in 1960’s Australia. Rescue stood or fell on the strength of the woman herself, on the support of other women of generous heart driven by the lessons of their own past, on a modicum of good luck.

All of the characters in Visman’s novel are trapped in one way or another through circumstances which make them better people or worse. If you were born into a family dogged by poverty or alcoholism, if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, if you were a woman born at the wrong time in history, bad luck. Tori’s journey shows us that the choice of what we accept and how we live a life rests ultimately with the self.

Through the raw emotional honesty of Tori’s thoughts and diary entries, Visman is careful not to present her central character as helpless victim. From the opening chapter, Tori emerges as a fighter. She recognises that she can choose to submit to the lot that is hers as a girl of her generation or she can choose to stand and fight for the powerless self against what she learns early and hard is the sheer injustice of the gender and class lottery. Tori’s God is hard and at times she rails against him.

The challenges as told in Tori’s continuous present are now a part of our history as women. Girls can take inspiration from her story. Boys can gain insight into the complexities of being a girl in any generation.

The journey of “Thursday’s child”  seeking a world beyond her lot, is treated with compassion and credibility. Linda Visman shows us that no young girl need stick to the tracks laid down for her by circumstance, but can set her own course through resilience, courage and the powerful ally of education.

Tori’s voice speaks out from the past to all young people of the present: you have far to go, get started.

 

 

From Jane de Graaf:

26.02.2018

I read your book this arvo and part of this evening as I couldn’t put it down. Well I have to say truthfully, I Loved It. I was hooked after the first few paragraphs.  Aww you are clever. It’s all the little details, amazing. Love it. Congratulations Linda, you have a gift.

 

Customer Review on Amazon for “Thursday’s Child”

5.0 out of 5 stars Unflinching

By Alfergus on 21 February 2018

This young adult novel tackles the tough issues faced by a typical teenager in the early 1960s following rape and unwanted pregnancy. The story plays out against a backdrop of a society at the cusp of social change. The events are portrayed unflinchingly yet in a way that is suitable for the target readership. I enjoyed the way that Tori, an impetuous hot-headed teen, learns to trust the kindness of strangers and, eventually, herself.

 

From Jan Mitchell, former high school English teacher:

27.02.2018

Local writer, Linda Visman moved to Wangi Wangi in the early 2000s and joined the Lake Macquarie branch of the Fellowship of Australian Writers in 2005, where she was encouraged to continue writing poetry and short stories. Later she decided to tackle a novel set in the place where she grew up. Some of her poems and stories have been published in this magazine

Like her first novel (Ben’s Challenge), Thursday’s Child is an historical novel set in the NSW Illawarra region. Both novels have young teenagers as their protagonists, struggling against the norms of their era, the late 1950s – early 1960s.

Victoria, or Tori as she likes to be called, is a bright schoolgirl not quite fifteen when the novel opens. Events during the next year change Tori’s life for ever. She moves from being a totally dependent child, to a young woman who has developed a degree of confidence in her ability to influence her own life.

During her year of growing up, Tori struggles against the rulings of her church and her society. She rails against the norms that place men in a position over women and their bodies, at the men who make all the rules and hold all the power. She fights for the choices she believes should be her birthright. Like her creator, Tori is a post-war child at the beginning of a social revolution – one which sees a new wave of feminism and sexual freedom emerging in the western world.

Thursday’s Child is an engaging story with a likeable heroine. It is suitable for teenagers who want to understand the norms and values of the early 1960s and also for adults who want to reminisce about times past. It is also worth a look for young men to see how their actions influence women’s lives – a marvellous starting point for moral discussion, because the gender issues raised in Thursday’s Child continue to beset us today, albeit in a more subtle manner.

Thursdays’ Child is available from Amazon books either as a printed book or in Kindle version. Go to http://www.amazon.com.au

 

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  1. Dear Linda,

    I’ve just finished reading “Thursday’s Child” and found it a fine piece of writing.

    These days I have two simple criteria with regard to novels. I ask:
    1. Did I care what happens to the people in the story?
    2. Does the author present the story without me being aware of her techniques?

    On both these criteria, your book gets a large tick.

    I cared very much what happened to all the characters. Of course, Tori is the main focus, but her parents, her siblings, Adele, Gwen feel like real people with their own strengths and weaknesses, their own needs. I even cared about Grizzly, wondering if he continued as he began, or whether his encounters with Tori and Dad change him.

    Your story kept me engaged, not wanting to rush ahead because what was happening in each moment mattered, but also keen to know how things would turn out. You write with skill, but, as I read, I was not aware of that. In other words, you, the writer kept yourself “out of the way”. That said, I do think a strength of your writing lies in the natural feel of the dialogue.

    One aside: I remember that earth tremor in the early 1960s! I was living in Campbelltown at the time, and all the cups rattled in the cupboard!

    At the library session on “Thursday’s Child” there was some discussion about the negative references to God and the church; people thought church schools would not allow their children to read such a book. Well, any church school that bans this book would also have to ban large parts of the bible, including the words from Psalm 22 that the gospel writer attributes to Jesus on the cross: My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?” The psalm adds the words: “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” which express well Tori’s feelings, albeit in more literary language.

    Actually there are many ethical/moral questions in your story, which could be explored fruitfully in a classroom: male violence and rape, abortion (legal or illegal?) and what support should be given to young mothers.

    One moral issue that impresses me is that of vengeful violence. Questions that arise include: Does revenge work for the one who has been violated? Does punishment convince the perpetrator? Then there is the dilemma of whether or not to involve the police, with all the problems that entails, and whether personal vengeance is justified.

    I suppose what I am saying is that it is many years since I worked in schools, public and Catholic, and primary school rather than secondary, but in those days I felt more free to discuss thorny issues in the Catholic school than I had in the public ones.
    I will give the book to my niece who has a fifteen-year old daughter. I will be very interested to hear their responses.

    So, Linda, in summary, congratulations.

    Kind wishes,

    Janet

    • Thank you so much, Janet, for your wonderful and thoughtful review. I do hope that schools will consider allowing the book to be read and discussed; there is much to consider.
      I am thrilled that you enjoy my writing. Keeping the author out of the story is a major part of becoming a good writer. I hope I can do it in my next book too. 🙂 Thank you again, Janet. To have one’s writing appreciated by one who is a real reader is a wonderful thing


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