Monaro by Alyn Marland by his daughter Mrs. Katharine Carr of the Seattle area is a fascinating read, but I cannot recommend it for anyone who is not emotionally or mentally mature.
Some may have difficulty following a family from 1890 to nearly 30 years ago, as well.
The characters in Monaro are endearing. The Wakefield family survives great losses from the beginning, including death from Tuburculosis and Polio. They see changes in the world through periods of war and financial crisis.
In spite of it all, the Wakefield family perseveres.
The book begins with the wedding of Rose and Harry Wakefield Jr. It takes place at the Wakefield estate, named Monterey after the place from which the family matriarch grew up.
Monterey is located in Melbourne, the first of three primary locations where the family's life is centered.
Shortly after the wedding Harry Jr. and his new wife discover a beautiful rural town named Myuna. They decide to settle there.
Rose is pregnant before the newlyweds find their new home, an estate erected by a mysterious captain and his wife years before. The estate is Monaro and the Wakefields fall in love with it from the outset.
Soon after settling in Ben Wakefield is born. His life is greatly detailed in the novel, and he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather to become a surgeon.
With a great emotional connection to Monaro, the young Wakefield returns to Myuna with his new wife following World War I.
Ben becomes the town's physician and the couple has four boys, including Gareth, Gerald, Harry and Ronnie. Three of the boys are afflicted with Polio and Ronnie, an infant, dies from the disease. Harry survives, but must live the remainder of his life in a wheelchair, and Gerald overcomes the illness without any lasting effects.
Gerald is a wily little guy, who often gets into mischief with his friends. He is a little rascal who makes teachers want to pull their hair out, and worries his mother at many points in his young life.
He and his fellow rascals tend to get into scuffles, all in the name of justice. They defend the honor of a young girl, as well as their own honor.
This is when a maturity is necessary. The antics of the youngsters lead them to becoming peeping toms, looking through a crack in the base of Ben's examination room and watching Gerald's uncle from under a stage as he has sex with the boys' teacher.
The language these boys use is crass and sometimes outright vulgar.
The scenes are rather detailed, and there are scenes in the boys' lives as young adults that also get explicit.
Ben's and Gerald's lives become the focus of the story, although the Wakefields' friends are an integral part of the story, as well.
The Wakefields are generously wealthy. They need not work, but have generous hearts and a desire to make the lives of those around them better.
When times of financial or health crises strike, the Wakefield family helps their neighbors. They provide financial, medical and employment support to those suffering from a variety of tragedies, including the Great Depression.
They support "the returned," men who fought in war and were wounded. They are greatly respected and loved by all who know them because of the care and concern shown for all who come to know them.
The mature nature of much of the book is my greatest concern for young readers.
I also must note there was some difficulty reading through the book because of grammatical, spelling and transitional errors. There were points in Monaro when I was confused because there wasn't a transitional break between conversations and scenes. Trying to deduce the "n" in signed was supposed to be an "h," also made me re-read several sentences, for example.
I feel a person must be committed to the story, the characters and the historical significance of events in the book to thoroughly enjoy it.
If one is willing to look beyond the idiosyncrasies, this is a thoroughly enjoyable novel.
Monaro was released recently by RoseDog Books and can be purchased for $29 at rosedogbookstore.com or at Amazon.com for about $23.