Aussie Author Challenge Book Reviews Erin's Book Challenge

Book Review: The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

Jaxie is a teenager who has grown up in a world of violence. His father – Captain Wankbag, according to Jaxie – is physically and verbally aggressive towards Jaxie and his late mother. Although cancer got her eventually, she was long gone before that. When his father dies in a brutal way, Jaxie decides to head north fearing he will be blamed for Wankbag’s death. He plans to meet the girl he is in love with – 15-year-old Lee – and run away together. On his way through the vast country, he meets Fintan MacGillis, a defrocked priest living on his own in the middle of nowhere. Through MacGillis, a mistrustful and angry Jaxie, may just realise there is another way to live life and perhaps, violence isn’t always the answer.

I read The Shepherd’s Hut a few months ago but have struggled to write a review. It has nothing to do with the book or the story but rather, how to do it justice. With obvious themes of misogyny and violence, Winton confronts what it is like for young boys who grow up in an environment of toxic masculinity. As with some of his work, the landscape too is a character. Jaxie is great protagonist and your heart goes out to him. You can see how messed up and broken he is, how tough he wants to be. The messages he has received from his dad, from society all seem to tell him there is only one way to be. Anything other than that is considered strange and weird. And yet, he has enough insight to occasionally wonder about this himself. After all, he questions why his mother didn’t leave his father.

Winton’s prose is lyrical and sparse and it is in this way, he manages to have the most impact on the reader while tackling difficult issues. Read this book if you like Australiana that explores social issues. And of course, if you like Winton’s writing.

My rating:

Where to find the book:

Amazon | Book Depository | Booktopia | Kindle

***Read a few months ago and reviewed for the 2019 Aussie Author Challenge and the bonus round of Erin’s Book Challenge 10.0***

Until next time,

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  • Simon Falk
    29 July 2019 at 7:48 pm

    Thanks for this, Sanch. I’ve been following Winton since I studied him at school last millenium (An Open Swimmer, was the first one I read). I heard the other day, on the Better Reading podcast, that, for Winton, landscape/setting is where Winton begins all his stories. Glad to see this review. Happy reading and writing.
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  • July 2019 Reflections - Sanch Writes
    1 August 2019 at 3:04 pm

    […] wrote my usual weekly gratitude posts and one long-pending book review – Tim Winton’s The Shepherd’s Hut. I do want to write more personal essays on the blog and improve my skills as I was quite happy […]