Seven Little Australians By Ethel Turner: Book Review & Summary

Little Library Of Rescued Books: Seven Little Australians By Ethel Turner

Little Library of Rescued Books: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner: An Intriguing Tale of Family and Growing Up

Seven Little Australians is a classic Australian novel written by Ethel Turner, a renowned Australian author and journalist. The book tells the story of the seven Woolcot children and their interactions with their father, Captain Woolcot, and their stepmother. Set in 1880s Sydney, the book presents a vivid portrayal of life in colonial Australia and the various challenges that the family faces, including financial issues, societal expectations, and sibling rivalries.

Themes and Ideas

One of the main themes of Seven Little Australians is the idea of family and the importance of acceptance and forgiveness within it. The book portrays the Woolcot family as a dysfunctional unit, with each member having their own distinct personality and set of struggles. As the story progresses, the children learn to come to terms with their differences and work together to overcome the difficulties they encounter.

Another key theme of the book is that of the challenges of growing up, particularly in an environment that is restrictive and unforgiving. This theme is explored through the character of Judy, the eldest Woolcot child, who is constantly at odds with the societal expectations placed upon her as a young woman. Through her journey of self-discovery, she learns to assert her independence and challenge the conventions that have been imposed upon her.

The book also explores themes of class and privilege, with the Woolcots being portrayed as a middle-class family struggling to maintain their status in a society that places great importance on wealth and social standing. This is exemplified through the character of Captain Woolcot, whose desire for financial success often leads him to neglect his children and their emotional needs.

Critical Evaluation of Writing Style

Ethel Turner’s writing style in Seven Little Australians is both engaging and descriptive, with vivid imagery and memorable characters that stay with the reader long after the book is finished. The story is told from the perspective of various members of the family, allowing for a multifaceted view of their struggles and triumphs.

At times, however, the book can feel a bit disjointed, with plot points and character development occurring too quickly or without enough context. Additionally, some readers may find the depiction of certain characters to be somewhat stereotypical or caricatured.

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the greatest strengths of Seven Little Australians is its ability to capture the essence of life in colonial Australia, with its rich historical detail and nuanced portrayal of the societal norms and expectations of the time. The book also excels at portraying the complex relationships between family members, highlighting the challenges and joys of parenthood, siblinghood, and marriage.

However, the book can at times feel outdated in its portrayal of certain themes and ideas, particularly those related to gender and class. Additionally, some readers may find the ending of the book to be somewhat unsatisfying, with unresolved plot points and loose ends.

Comparison to Similar Works

Seven Little Australians is often compared to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, as both books share similar themes of family, growing up, and societal expectations. However, Seven Little Australians differs from Little Women in its more realistic and unvarnished depiction of life, as well as its focus on the complex relationships between siblings.

Overall Impression and Recommendation

Overall, I found Seven Little Australians to be a captivating and engaging read, with memorable characters and an intriguing plot. While at times the book may feel a bit disjointed or overly caricatured, it succeeds in capturing the essence of life in colonial Australia and the complexities of family dynamics. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction, Australian literature, or coming-of-age stories.


When was Seven Little Australians published?

The book was first published in 1894.

What is the age range for readers of Seven Little Australians?

The book is generally recommended for readers aged 12 and above.

Is Seven Little Australians part of a series?

No, Seven Little Australians is a standalone novel. However, Ethel Turner did write a sequel to the book, titled The Family at Misrule, which follows the Woolcot family as they face new challenges and adventures.

Is there a film adaptation of Seven Little Australians?

Yes, there have been several film and television adaptations of the book, including a 1939 film starring Elizabeth Allan and a 1973 television series featuring Barbara Llewellyn as Judy Woolcot.

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