This year I finished reading an old Australian book series called Billabong by Mary Grant Bruce, set in the early 1900’s in Victoria, Australia. The story is set on a cattle station called Billabong, owned by David Linton who, as a single Dad raised his two children, Jim and Norah. Both my Grandma and Mum grew up reading these books though they are sadly now out of print. I loved these books (My Grandma had a copy of the series). There is no way they will ever get back in print because they are pretty politically incorrect, but I’m so glad I’ve been able to find the books and read them myself.
Since reading them I’ve formed an opinion on something, which I’m about to tell you about and could get me excommunicated from Girl Books Inc. forever, if such a society existed. Norah Linton is my favourite girl character out of all the girly books I’ve read. Please don’t call me a heretic, but I have to say that I like Norah – the humble Australian the greater half of the world doesn’t know exists – better than the renowned Anne Shirley, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March, Pollyanna, George Kirrin (from the Famous Five) and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Let me explain. Norah Linton is not your ordinary girl. She grew up on a huge cattle station; horse riding before she could walk and bush dancing like it was second nature. The housekeeper, Brownie, taught her to cook and keep house and sew and knit. She spent her days in the saddle with her Dad and brother mustering the cattle and camping in the bush. She wasn’t an academic, but she knew what she needed to know academically. Norah had good manners, knew right from wrong and loved making friends.
What I love about Norah was that she lived such a balanced life. Norah knew how to cook better than a lot of girls, but she wasn’t absorbed in frills and lace. She dressed nearly every day in a riding kit getting dirty, but Norah didn’t wish that she was a boy. She liked being a girl, but was practical, enthusiastic, and ready to get hot and sweaty helping with the station’s work.
I think that’s the way to live.
Your thoughts? By the way, if you would like to read these Australian books, the first one, A Little Bush Maid, is available in ebook format at Project Gutenburg.