How to Get There by Maggie MacKellar

How to Get There by Maggie MacKellar

After Maggie Mackellar’s acclaimed When It Rains, her second memoir traces with her characteristic candour and perception her move to Tasmania, for love, and the struggles and joys of settling there.In 2011 Maggie Mackellar moved from her family’s farm in Central West New South Wales to the east coast of Tasmania with her children and assorted menagerie to live with a farmer. Her story takes as its epigraph a quote from Roger McDonald: ‘Through every small opening in life, through the tiniest most restricted nerve ends, through rips and tears and tatters, life pours.’In the book she explores learning to love again after living through grief, and the complexities of doing this in a community with which she is unfamiliar, with two young children. She reflects on love after grief, juggling being a mother and negotiating a burgeoning relationship, the rhythms of country life, displacement and the writing life. This is a book for anyone who has imagined taking a risk, for anyone who has moved to a new place and struggled with feelings of homesickness and displacement. It is a story about making a life in a remarkable setting – the east coast of Tasmania, on a sheep farm in a stone house built by convicts in 1828.

How to Get There by Maggie MacKellar

This is such an easy book to read. Direct, simple (not in a bad way!) writing. I read so many books by American authors that it’s sometimes a bit of a surprise to pick up something by an Australian and feel immediately at home.

This book seems to be a follow-on from the author’s earlier books. It seems to work on the assumption you’ve read the others (I haven’t) so if not, you have to draw your own conclusions about some things.

It’s a bit weird how many people who were featured on Australian Story are feeling the need to publish books these days. I was on Australian Story before all of them – in 1996, only a few months after the show premiered. Should I be publishing my life story now?!

I don’t read that many memoirs, so I don’t have that much to compare How to Get There to. I do think that this is an engaging read for Australians, and everyone will find something to identify with. I love the author’s understanding of and respect for Australia in general (too many Australians only love their little corner and spend a lot of time insulting everyone else!).

This is probably a better book for people who enjoyed the other books. Though I had no problem reading this one, as someone who had no idea who this woman was or why she was writing these books, I think I’d have liked it even more if I had the background story to go with it.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

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