Opening Sentence:As he stumbled and cursed his way up the flinty slope of Mount Mornington beneath a remorseless summer sun, Joseph Cornelius Riley experienced the painful delusion that he was not twenty miles inland from the breeze-sweetened coast of Central Queensland but was rather in some scorched suburb of Hades, whereupon reaching the summit he would surely shake hands with the devil himself.
Synopsis:Each Christmas the Rileys gather at ‘Little Mornington’, the family home outside Melbourne. But this year their declining 96-year-old matriarch, Maude Acacia, sets her family a quest.
Each of them must achieve happiness – or they’re out of the will. And given that the family fortune began with a mountain of gold and just got bigger, that’s quite an incentive.
How difficult a task could it be?
Comments:According to the cover, The Life of Riley is “A family story about the quest for happiness…and sex, greed, gluttony and revenge.” This is true, but this story is also about learning to know oneself. It is about knowing what you want from life and having the courage to reach for it.
In the beginning of this book, none of the Riley’s are truly happy. Why? Because they are shuffling along, leading the lives they’ve landed in without ever once stopping to take note of whether it is what they truly want. When Maude Acacia, the Matriarch of the family gives them a financial incentive to do so, most of them find the courage to follow their hearts.
This book is easy to read. It is amusing and the characters are people we can relate to because, despite their riches, they face the same everyday problems as us. As with most families there is jealousy, envy and rivalry, but in essence what this book is really about is happiness and the journey we take to get there.
- The Life of Riley (automobilemag.com)
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- Monday musings on Australian literature: Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards Hall of Fame (whisperinggums.com)
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What are your thoughts?