The Lucky Galah is one of the most original books I’ve read in a long time. Set in Western Australia in the sleepy town of Port Badminton, the story opens in 1964. The race to go into space is on, and NASA installs a satellite dish at Port Badminton, and the techies begin moving in from the East Coast. Evan Johnson moves there with his beautiful wife Linda, and they move into a home by a poor local family who keep a pink and grey galah in a cage by the outdoor dunny.
The brilliant thing about this book is that it is narrated by Lucky, the galah. She tells us all the comings and goings in this small town. Lucky yearns for freedom and finds that her fate is linked to Evan Johnson. We discover that on the day Evan’s fortune fell, Lucky’s rose.
The Lucky Galah captures a particular period in history and examines the balances of power between the sexes in a time of change. It also captures the heat and isolation of rural Australia, the excitement of the space race, and the dynamics of people in a small town. It’s also a book about passion and longing, and without giving too much away, there is a tragic affair that underpins the book.
Out of all the characters in the book, Lucky was my favourite! I felt her frustration of being caged and wanting freedom, her exhilaration when she finally gains freedom, and her ups and downs, her rages and moods, and also her sweetness and curiosity. The Lucky Galah is a quirky, literary novel that is surprising and insightful. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel, as this is a very accomplished work.
Macmillan, RRP $34.99