Official Review: The Light Horse Ghost by Julie Janson

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Kibetious
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Official Review: The Light Horse Ghost by Julie Janson

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[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Light Horse Ghost" by Julie Janson.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Iris is a sixteen-year-old girl. She is living with her mother, Ailish, and her siblings: Madeline, Tom, and Harry. Her father, Albert Jamesson, has been fighting alongside the 10th Light Horse Regiment. Iris is eagerly waiting for the return of her father. Albert arrives, and the family is delighted to have him back. He needs to adapt to a new lifestyle while battling the war memories. Albert begins talking about his experiences from the war. He relates battles that include their triumphal procession into Damascus and how they took over Jerusalem from the Turkish Empire. Albert establishes a routine of telling his war experiences on Sundays hence listeners gather outside his house with a crate of beer. However, there is much more to his return than just his stories. He is unstable and cannot hold onto a job for long. What does this mean for this poverty-stricken family? Will the family survive?

The Light Horse Ghost is a historical fiction book based on real-life Australian stories from the aftermath of World War 1. It contains 321 pages. The author of the book is Julie Jason. She is also a poet and a playwright. The setting of the book is in Australia through the years 1919-1921. It was a time when there was a high level of racial prejudice. It is this setting that keeps Iris questioning herself on the equality of all human beings. She could not comprehend why the Aboriginal people were forbidden to enter their own town.

Many characters in this book exhibit different qualities. The main character is Iris. Although she is only sixteen, she is able to stand up to defend her family and her friends. Her father is abusive and at times mistreats his children, but she does not allow him to mistreat her. Moreover, she is against the gender enculturation of women. For example, in her community, women are supposed to gather firewood, and put on false smiles. They are not allowed to eat with their mouths open or say anything actually important or relevant about politics or social change. To her, this notion just like racism is unacceptable. Albert is a drunkard who spends all his earnings on alcohol. However, he is unconcerned about his family. To others, he is a hero and a compassionate man who feeds and helps them. Ironically, he neither feeds nor helps his own children. Ailish is an insecure woman. She cannot defend herself or her children. When things become hard, she runs away leaving her children behind. There are many other characters with exceptional traits. My favorite character was Mrs. Brown, a neighbor of the Jamesson family. She is a widow. She encourages Iris to pursue her dream of becoming a writer and provides meals for her and her brothers and sisters when they lack.

This is a character-driven book, and the author did an excellent job of building characters who possess strengths and also flaws. The plot of the book, however, was not developed adequately. There were instances where it felt as though there were repetitions. For example, the anticipation of Albert’s return is lengthy due to this. There are also numerous loose events that were not tied. For example, Ailish sued her husband for failing to take care of his family. It is not revealed whether he did this or not. Also, Albert left his family several times, yet you find that he is back and do not know how it came to be. There are also several typos in the book which could have been easily detected if another round of editing was done. They include misspellings, wrong tenses, and also missing words.

I appreciate the fact that the story handles very important themes. It will also help readers to see they can pursue their dreams regardless of their current circumstances. The theme I loved most was kindness that was portrayed through many acts of compassion. The other aspect I liked about the book was scenes bound to evoke laughter. I had to laugh when Albert stack new wood into a fire unknowingly. He ended up burning ducklings that had been left to dry over the heat of the wood fuel oven. Only one duckling, Hughie, survived. The duckling became Harry’s pet. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars due to the typos and the plot that was not well-developed. I recommend it to all fans of historical fiction books. It will appeal most to those who enjoy reading character-driven books.

******
The Light Horse Ghost
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Elvis93
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Post by Elvis93 »

despite being long, its a well structured and detailed review. very interesting to know that the main character Iris is just 16 years old. good review.
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Post by BelleReadsNietzsche »

Wow. What a fascinating time-period and what an interesting main character/perspective for her! Sounds educational as well as like good fiction. Annoying not all loose ends were tied and editing could be tighter. Thanks for review!
"The bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." -Ratatouille (2007)
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Post by BelleReadsNietzsche »

Wow. What a fascinating time-period and what an interesting main character/perspective for her! Sounds educational as well as like good fiction. Annoying not all loose ends were tied and editing could be tighter. Thanks for review!
"The bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." -Ratatouille (2007)
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Post by Rose Harebate »

I like the fact that this historical fiction is based on true stories and stands against racism and women mistreatment. Thanks for a fascinating review.
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Post by Kibetious »

Elvis93 wrote: 19 Feb 2019, 15:46 despite being long, its a well structured and detailed review. very interesting to know that the main character Iris is just 16 years old. good review.
Thanks a lot for taking time to pen down this reply. I appreciate it a lot. Thanks again!
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BelleReadsNietzsche wrote: 19 Feb 2019, 17:32 Wow. What a fascinating time-period and what an interesting main character/perspective for her! Sounds educational as well as like good fiction. Annoying not all loose ends were tied and editing could be tighter. Thanks for review!
The book is really interesting and all the characters were adequately developed. Thanks for the reply.
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Kibetious
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Post by Kibetious »

Rose Harebate wrote: 20 Feb 2019, 03:20 I like the fact that this historical fiction is based on true stories and stands against racism and women mistreatment. Thanks for a fascinating review.
The book is really inspirational and the themes addressed show us how things were in the past as we appreciate the present and look forward to a better future for all.
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Post by kandscreeley »

I don't think I've seen many stories centered around Australia after World War 1. That would be a unique perspective. It sounds like the author handles the themes well. Historical fiction, though, is not one of my go to genres. I'll think about it. Thanks.
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Post by Vscholz »

Your review is so detailed! I see a lot of Australian books available for review but I don't know much about the history to jump in. I'll consider this one (even if I'm disappointed that it isn't really a scary ghost story).
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Post by linham02660 »

I am not a fan of books centered around war. However, you wrote a great review.
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kandscreeley wrote: 20 Feb 2019, 09:36 I don't think I've seen many stories centered around Australia after World War 1. That would be a unique perspective. It sounds like the author handles the themes well. Historical fiction, though, is not one of my go to genres. I'll think about it. Thanks.
The books on this setting are rare but like this one, they are fascinating. Thanks for the reply and I hope you will enjoy reading it.
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Post by Kibetious »

Vscholz wrote: 20 Feb 2019, 17:06 Your review is so detailed! I see a lot of Australian books available for review but I don't know much about the history to jump in. I'll consider this one (even if I'm disappointed that it isn't really a scary ghost story).
Thanks a lot for taking time to pen down this reply. The books are normally great given the Australian terrain hence they also entail wonderful adventures, most of the time.
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Post by Kibetious »

linham02660 wrote: 20 Feb 2019, 19:20 I am not a fan of books centered around war. However, you wrote a great review.
Thanks for the feedback. I am grateful. I have come to like these books because most of them offer us what may never be revealed in some other historical books.
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Post by Amber Nichole »

It's not often that I read many historical fiction books, but I do enjoy tales that are character-driven. It sounds like The Light Horse Ghost is an emotional journey and covers all sorts of topics, from racism to sexism to abuse. I'll definitely have to check this piece out when I'm ready to pick up a challenging and thought-provoking book!

I very much enjoyed reading your review. I found it interesting that you pointed out that the plot seemed to suffer, despite or possibly because of there being such a focus on the characters. Sometimes I find that I'll easily overlook a situation like that if I find the characters to be engaging enough, but there are times where the lack of plot development has been such that I've not enjoyed a piece as much as I would have liked to.

Thanks to your review, I'll be putting this on my to-read list, and may we all have a Mrs. Brown in our lives. :)
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