Tag Archives: relationships

A review of ‘The Memory Tree’, by Jennifer Scoullar

I write quite a bit about the dangers of the Australian bush, but there’s a reason we all continue to live in it. That reason is love. I keep rediscovering that reason in the writing of Jennifer Scoullar, a horse-mad Aussie who lives on a property right smack dab in the middle of the bush.

You want to get a feel for what rural Australia, and Australians, are like? Read The Memory Tree. This is the review I left on Amazon:

 

 

Jennifer Scoullar is known as a writer of Australian rural romances, but ‘The Memory Tree’ is something more, it’s a love story that begins where the ‘happy ever after’ ends.

Penny and Matt are married and united in their desire to help save Tasmanian Devils from the terrible cancer that’s decimating their populations in Tasmania. But they both have insecurities, especially Matt whose relationship with his Father has been fiery for years. So when Penny decides to learn the finer points of taxidermy from Matt’s father, she decides to keep it a secret. Just to keep the peace.

And then Matt accidentally kills an animal on the way home one night, a very special animal. For reasons that become apparent as the story unfolds, he can’t tell Penny, and guilt starts to drive a wedge between them. When American geneticist, Sarah, arrives to map the genome of the Devils, the tense situation between husband and wife becomes a whole lot worse.

One of my favourite lines in the entire book is this: ‘Matt froze, but apparently Sarah’s vision wasn’t based on movement.” To me, that line encapsulates Scoullar’s writing perfectly: understated, funny, sharp, intensely vivid. [For those few readers who have never seen Jurassic Park, the deadly T-Rex tracks its victims by movement]

And yet, while Sarah turns out to be a bit of a man-eater when it comes to her love-life, she is utterly dedicated to her work and not a two dimensional villain. In fact, there is not a single character in the entire story that’s two dimensional. Even those with just a walk on part seem to move in 3D, and that capacity to make characters come alive extends to every creature in the book, including the ones with fur and feathers.

The thing that kept me reading long past the point where I should have stopped, however, was the question mark that hung over the story. How could Matt extricate himself from the whopping big hole he’d dug? How could he save the animals he loved without totally betraying Penny and his own integrity? How could a marriage survive so many secrets and lies?

I was prepared for the ending to go either way, so long as there was a resolution that felt /real/. I was not disappointed.

For my money, The Memory Tree is simply the best thing Jennifer Scoullar has ever written, and I hope she continues to write love stories about the bush and the living creatures that inhabit it, no matter how many legs they have.

Very highly recommended.‘

https://www.amazon.com/Memory-Tree-Tasmanian-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B07TTM6R72/ref=sr_1_4?crid=19FYZIUYCTVLA&keywords=the+memory+tree&qid=1573765382&s=digital-text&sprefix=the+memory+tree%2Caps%2C384&sr=1-4

cheers

Meeks


2081 – The To-do List

“Replay, to-do list, current.”

“Would you like me to replay the to-do list in order of priority?”

“Yes.”

“You have two priority 1 tasks. The first is to  visit your Mother. The second is to visit your Grandmother. Then there are three priority-…”

“Cancel and return to cupboard.”

“As you wish.”

I know most people love their AI’s but I’ve never  been one of them. There’s just something about those smarmy, computerized voices that makes my teeth ache. I mean I know AI’s are meant to simulate real people but why do the manufacturers have to make them sound so… cheerful. And polite.

When I bought my first AI I tried swearing at it. I  even slapped it around a bit and all it said was, “Please do not hit me. You will injure yourself.”

The fact that the damned thing was right just made  me even angrier. I know it’s stupid to get angry with a machine but the disconnect between how it looks and how it behaves annoys the shit out of me. A pile of e-plas and electronics just shouldn’t look like the sexiest man alive. It really shouldn’t.

I tried a female AI for a short while. I dressed  her/it up in my ugliest ‘fat’clothes but the damned thing made them look good. It had to go. I mean, for real!  I’m not crazy vain but what sane woman wants to be woken each day by a vision of perfection when she knows she’s got bed hair and sleep lines?

So now I’ve got a male AI again but it’s one of the  older models, not one of those new walking, talking dildos that my Mum has. Her AI really gives me the creeps, especially when she calls it ‘Elvis’.

I guess I’m more like my Nana that way. We both think machines should look and act like machines.

Mum says Nan is just too old-fashioned for her own good but that’s not completely true. Nan isn’t anti-tech, she just prefers ‘bots that look like boxes on castors. Her appartment is full of them. Some vacuum the floors, some crawl all over her shelves dusting the knick-knacks and she even has one that lives in her cooler, sniffing out off food and composting it in this weird expandable tummy.

Mum is forever at Nan to get the cooler replaced  with a new model that does all the food disposal  automatically but Nan just smiles and keeps her antiques anyway. And they are antiques in their way. How she keeps them going I’ll never know. I think she must have a network of other oldies who still know how to repair things.

The trouble is that Nan and her oldies are getting old too.  What is going to happen when they get too old to fix stuff?

I hate to say it but Mum is right about this. We  have to get Nan modernised a bit, starting with the cooler. Off food is no joke, especially now that Nan’s sense of smell is not what it was. If her sniffer ever malfunctions the food in her cooler could kill her.

That’s why I have to go over to Nan’s place. Today.  She doesn’t know it yet but in a few hours she’s going to be getting a brand new cooler and I have to be there to sweet talk her into letting the delivery ‘bots in through the door.

It’s not going to be easy but I have a plan, of  sorts. I found this place that sells reconditioned box coolers. They’re the kind that the old vendor ‘bots used to carry around full of ice-cream in the summer. They don’t take up a lot of space and I’m hoping Nan will agree to retiring her sniffer to the box cooler. Then, instead of putting her food scraps down the composting shute she can feed them to the
sniffer. Sort of like a pet.

After old Rufus died Nan swore she wouldn’t get another cat but I know she misses having something to look after so maybe, just maybe the sniffer can take Rufus’ place. Sort of.

Just thinking about turning a ‘bot into a pet makes me squirm a bit but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the people you love. And I do love my Nan.

Today is not going to be a good day though.

“AI?”

“How may I help you?”

“Update to-do list.”

“I am ready. Please go ahead.”

“Tag Nan, visit equals done. Reschedule Mum, visit for next week.”

“Oh I am so pleased you will be visiting your Grandmother today and I will reschedule the reminder to visit your Mother for Monday, July the 16th, 2081.


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