Friday, February 15, 2013

Retro read: 'Queen Kat, Carmel & St Jude get a life' by Maureen McCarthy

Queen Kat, Carmel & St Jude get a life by Maureen McCarthy.

Set in Melbourne, in the early 1990s, what drew me to this book was the cover (coffee and muffin- yum!) and recommendations from others.  It's described as a classic, but my daughter says its not.
Whatever, it still was a great story about three very different country girls and their first year away from home after leaving school, sharing a house in Melbourne.  Kat, the rich snob, Jude the political activist, and Carmel the shy musician.  Their first year away from home is when they each find their own talents, strengths, weaknesses.  They all have different issues to deal with - Kat gets in with the wrong people, Jude must work out how to deal with her father's death, and Carmel has to work out how to follow what she loves against family resistance.  These things sorely test them, but you see them grow and mature through the book.  They begin as strangers and end as friends. 

But ... I thought the girls characters were a bit over-exaggerated.  For example, Kat was a super snob, very beautiful and clever, Jude incredibly smart (A+s) and a full-on activist against human-rights abuses in Chile, and Carmel very shy but incredibly talented as a singer/musician.  

Despite this though, each girl had plenty in them that you could identify with, and the things they got up to felt like they could happen to any one newly flatting and living independently for the first time.  Other people's comments on the book cover show also that this book really resounded with them, because they had similar experiences, and its portrayal of 1990s Melbourne was spot-on.  

Classic?  You decide.

~ Emma (Central City)

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