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Book: Far Across The Sea - A family saga by Carmel McMurdo Audsley

Book Reviews: Far Across The Sea - A family saga by Carmel McMurdo Audsley

categories: Book, Scotland, Australia, Coal Mining, World War One, World War Two, Knockshinnoch, New Cumnock, Ayrshire, Army, Brisbane, Ipswich, Immigrants, Family Saga


Carmel McMurdo Audsley

Author Carmel McMurdo Audsleyabout this book: FAR ACROSS THE SEA is a family saga that begins in Scotland in 1913, progresses through two world wars and leads to a life in Ipswich, Australia for a young man who takes up the offer of assisted passage to Australia as part of the Australian government's 'Populate or Perish' campaign after the second world war.

Life in the mining villages of Scotland was rather bleak. One of the characters in the book joins the army in WWI to get away from the mines, only to find himself digging underground in France. Years after WWII had finished, food and clothing were still being rationed in Scotland, few people could afford to buy their own home and unemployment was high. When Australia put out the call for young men and families to populate its shores, with the lure of high employment and sunshine instead of rain and snow, many people took up the call.

The book is based on fact and provides a snapshot of the lives of people in Scotland in the early 1900s and the new hope that Australia offered in the 1950s.

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 Awesome book

I found out heaps about Australia in the 1950s and Scotland as well. The Scottish people really suffered during and after world war 2 and life was so much better in Australia. I like reading about real people and learning about their lives. [by Tracy Webb]

 Some very touching scenes

I bought this author's most recent book 'The Undertaker', which I thoroughly enjoyed, and then decided to start reading her trilogy of novels all set in Scotland. I have read 'Far Across the Sea' and hope to read the others soon. In this book, I got a real insight into what life was like for people after World War Two and also in the trenches in France. Then one of the people in the story moves to Australia, with a view to going back to Scotland, but he never leaves. There are some very touching scenes in the book, especially when his mother realises that she will never see her only son again. I too moved away from home so it struck a chord within me. [by George Valance]

 Well written and enjoyable read

This book ticks all the boxes in terms of interesting characters and events and the description of places in Scotland and Australia. It covers the period 1913 to 2012 and gives a lot of interesting information about life before, during and after the two world wars. This book is the second instalment in a trilogy about this family. I didn't realise this and just bought 'Far Across The Sea' which can be read by itself without needing to know the before and after story, but I am going to buy the other two books now and hopefully connect with the other characters in those books. The story flowed easily and it was an enjoyable read. [by Pete Bycroft]

 Reader can get inside the novel

The writer has a way of portraying the characters and places so that the reader actually gets inside the novel. I grew to really care for the characters in this book 'Far Across The Sea' and wanted to know what happened to them. The character Willie had so many near misses as far as accidents go that it's a wonder he survived. And to think they were all real people. A great story, told with a lot of empathy. [by Anne Salmon]

 Gives a better understanding

I just loved this book. Anyone who had an ancestor who went through the second world war would perhaps understand what they went through. The character in this book came back a changed man and it affected him all his life. I liked him and his son a lot and was sad when they both died. [by Therese Davidson]

 A great series of books

I have now read the third book in this writer's series. 'Far Across The Sea' takes the reader from the gritty mining villages of Ayrshire Scotland to the battlefields of France during WWI back to Scotland and the horrors that the men of war experienced. It follows the family through WWII and a great character emerges in the form of the son Willie who gets up to all sorts of mischief, but his heart is in the right place as he is always trying to help his mother put food on the table. There are tensions within the family and Willie decides to go to Australia. There are great descriptions of Australia in the 1950s and the writer continues the story by moving seamlessly from what the family is doing in Scotland to what Willie is up to in Australia. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series. I would highly recommend the whole series including 'Faeries, Farms and Folk' and 'Ours Yours and Mines'. [by Mike Aspinall]

 Well crafted book from talented author

It must have taken guts to travel for six weeks across the ocean from Scotland to Australia in the 1950s. The hero of this book was a stranger in a strange land but through his tenacity and hard work he made a go of it in the 'lucky country'. Spoiler alert - he never made it back to Scotland and the chapters where his mother is pining for him are truly heart-wrenching. This is a well crafted book from a writer who is gaining a name for herself. I have just started to read her latest offering 'Faeries, Farms and Folk' and am riveted by the description in the first chapters of the witch burnings. [by Aileen Cummings]

 Courage and ingenuity

It is not often that you read of people with such strength, courage and ingenuity as in this book 'Far Across The Sea' and the book before it 'Ours, Yours and Mines'. The characters are believable and real and the author really gets inside their skin. This book gives more insight into the coal mines of Scotland and also the world wars and how people coped with rationing. I didn't know that Scotland was still rationed five years after world war two. Moving to Australia was a really big deal in those days and it was great to follow this young man's journey. The best thing about a family saga is getting to know the people and you can follow the characters across both these books. Well written and good story. Ten out of ten. [by Claire McKay]

 australia in the 1950s

I learned a lot about Australia in the 1950s with this book. The main character travels from Scotland to Brisbane Australia - it took six weeks on a ship! It also talks about the world wars. It was very interesting. [by Andrea Krupp]

 great family saga takes you inside the story

After reading 'Ours, Yours and Mines', I was pleased to see that the author had followed up with a sequel. In 'Far Across The Sea' the story begins with a young man aged 15 going down the mines in Scotland. It describes the times - early 1900s - really well. We follow the young man, George, as he joins the army in WWI and goes to France to get away from the mines, only to find himself digging tunnels. He comes back a changed man after receiving treatment for mustard gas. He returns to the mines and meets a young woman whom we marries, despite obstacles being put in their way by her family. As George and Mary have a family, the protagonist changes from George to his son Willie, who has many escapades a young lad in Scotland during WWII. He follows his father down the pits and is almost killed in an accident. He eventually decides to travel to Australia for two years, but he never returns to Scotland. This is a really good book, and you don't need to have read the first book to be able to pick up the story quickly. The author has a way of making the reader feel as though he is inside the story. [by Gary Knight, Ohio USA]

 So much to be thankful for

I had been researching my family tree in Scotland and wanted to know more about their lives. A friend recommended 'Ours, Yours and Mines' and 'Car Across the Sea' by Carmel McMurdo Audsley to help me get an understanding of how life used to be in 19th and 20th century Scotland. I have to say that I was very moved by both books, and have gained a greater insight into the way my earlier family must have lived. Just as in the author's family, my great-great-grandmother lost several children and the way in which she writes about a mother's loss brought tears to my eyes. I now feel so blessed to have the life I have and will try not to complain when things don't go my way. I also think that the strength of the women back then has filtered through to me, and I will forever be grateful to my ancestors. Thank you for two wonderfully evocative books. [by Maria Standish, Sydney]

 A great easy to read story that I couldn't put down

It is so refreshing to read a story about a good, decent family in the early part of the 20th century. The story is set in Scotland initially, then moves to Australia with letters going back and forth across the sea between the family. It doesn't shy away from family tensions but what strikes me is the message that every person needs to live his or her own life, even if it means leaving family behind. There is a strength throughout the story which is based on the author's own family. I thoroughly enjoyed it and read it over two nights. [by Claire Lawson, Sydney Australia]

 I've learned so much

I was told about Far Across The Sea by a friend who had also read the first book Ours, Yours and Mines. With no previous knowledge of this author or the first book I ordered Far Across The Sea because I was interested in life in the early 20th century in Scotland, because I had ancestors there. I learned so much about life during the first and second world wars and how tough the people of Scotland had it. I liked the way the characters spoke and the houses they lived in. What a great feeling it must have been to leave rationing of food behind and get on a ship where there was plenty of fresh food, on the way to a new and exciting land. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and am now going to read the first one. [by David Lancaster, Dunedin, New Zealand]

 Sequel doesn't disappoint

I ordered this book from as soon as I heard about it, and had it in my hand within days. I sat down that night and read the first few chapters and finished the book the second night. It was nice to pick up a book and feel as though I already knew the characters. We had met George and his Uncle William in the first book, and we watch George grow into a young man and get to know his family. The description of the areas around New Cumnock are very evocative, and George's experiences in world war one are very sad. His son, Willie, is both sensitive and tough and quite a character when he was growing up. I've never been to Australia, but the author has managed to describe Brisbane in the 1950s in a way that I felt I was there. This author is a natural writer who has a pleasing way of telling a story and drawing the reader in. [by Claire Ferguson, Edinburgh]

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   • Book Review: Ours, Yours and Mines - A family saga set in the miners' rows of Ayrshire Scotland in the mid-1800s to ...
   • Book Review: Faeries, Farms and Folk - A family saga set in Scotland at a time of witchcraft and superstition by Carmel ...

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