It’s Raining in Mango by Thea Astley
This book is part of my first items of the Penguin Books collection. I was not familiar with the series but I quickly realized it is a huge collection. I bought these books myself on my first trip to Australia. My partner is from Brisbane and I found them in a bookshop in the West End. I seem to develop another tradition, one of getting books from various places I go. The two books I bought were “A Year in Provence” and “It’s Raining in Mango”. The author turns out to be from Queensland and went to the same university as my partner. All these coincidences made it the best candidate for my first Australian author.
The story starts in the 19th century with a family moving away form Sydney. The father is a journalist and feels that moving into the heart of the gold rush would be a great reporting opportunity. The discoveries of deaths of aboriginal people and the depiction of various killings gave me shivers. Although the book starts with such a gripping point in history it slowly moves into other life difficulties: the hardships of poverty, lack of work, women’s life, homosexuality, war.
The book has many memorable episodes. One of which was Jessica’s courage to speak her mind in a conversation with a priest. She makes a significant point when she can’t tolerate to be judged and advised on how to live life sin free considering she has had to maintain a family by herself. There is a world of difference between wise advise and righteous judgment and many religious figures, people in general for that matter, do not take the time to reflect on what is the difference. So she sends the priest off and the conclusion he draws is that she is crazy. Another moment which shows how rigid we can be is when Connie dares to think and come up with a perfectly reasonable answer in front of a nun’s reproach. She is in pain and she was mending the wounds on her fingers. The nun implies that Jesus suffered for us and so the girl should handle the pain. When Connie replies that Jesus also cured the sick she is told: “You put yourself above Jesus! You interpret” . This is an eloquent example when mindless submission is interpreted as a sign of great religious belief.
It is a rich family history one that reminds me how easy it is to be trapped in your own past and history. Unlike my trip to Australia, which was happy and exciting, the book was sad. It is a good thing that I am reading “The Power of Now” at the same time. It is very helpful in trying to keep a balance between reading about such tragic moments and learn from them and not transmit more judgment and frustration into the universe.
The conclusion and goal after this lecture is learn and not judge!