Thar she blows!: It’s got to be Rush Oh!

I’m dying to give Rush Oh! by Shirley Barrett the glowing and fulsome review that it deserves. Rush Oh! is a gem of a book; ranking up there as one of my favourite books of 2017. So, I should be writing a review that lists its virtues, at length. However, for various tedious reasons (new job/ moving house/ Christmas) my time is compromised, and this mini review will have to do. The most important thing is this: if the sound of this book tickles your fancy, beg, borrow or buy it as a priority.

Rush Oh! is written from the perspective of Mary, the eldest daughter of a whaling family.  Set on the New South Wales south coast, she brilliantly chronicles the ups and downs of her family, the whalers and the town of Eden over the year 1908.

I loved this book because:

🐳 It’s properly funny. It made me not only smile numerous times, but actually laugh out loud too.  There are melancholy episodes in the book as well, which are equally well drafted.

🐳 The characters are hilarious, and yet so believable (including the cast of killer whales).

🐳 The writing is excellent.

🐳 I learned lots about whales and the nineteenth/ twentieth century whaling industry. Yes, it was gruesome and to our modern sensibilities almost offensive, but a fascinating episode in our history. Who knew whales were so interesting?

If you love Anne of Green Gables or The Essex Serpent (which I reviewed here), or Barrett’s classic Aussie film Love Serenade, then it’s a fair bet you’ll love Rush Oh!

For those now keen to read a proper review (and the review I’ve to thank for pointing me towards Rush Oh!) check out Kate W’s post here.

This is a site about books and about tea, and how we should read more books and drink more tea. Sometimes, it's hard to know what books to read and what tea to drink. This is where I can help out.


  1. So glad you enjoyed it! I agree, it struck that rare balance of being funny, a bit sad, informative, memorable.. so many things! All that said (and glowing reviews aside), I did find it tricky to convince others to pick it up, their main reasons being that they weren’t into historical fiction and/ or not interested in whaling 🙁

    • Oh my, are there such people? Historical fiction is the best. True enough, I momentarily paused when I realised the whale element, but a few pages in and I was immersed.

  2. This is in my TBR pile & has been since I read Kate’s review 🙂 It’s great to hear how much you enjoyed it! I need to move it nearer the top of the pile….

  3. I loved Rush Oh! I read it 18 months ago and, like you, learned such a lot about whaling as well as life in Edwardian Australia. Mary is a wonderful character, and I loved the salty dog whalers.

    • I really loved ‘the voice’ of Mary; she is so endearing. And yes, the troupe of whalers are a hoot. I think I’ll have that image of the uncle up to his neck in whale fat in my head for the rest of my life.

  4. Ha! Yes, indeed.

  5. I read this last year after Jan raved about it, and I agree, it was such a lovely surprise. I had a milder reaction to it—solid enjoyment, no raving—but as I’m thinking about it again now (and especially reading Kate’s more detailed review) I feel even more enthusiastic than I did at the time. How can a book about whaling be so enchanting? I might need to read it again sooner than planned.

    • I think enchanting is the perfect word for it. I think I slightly lowered my expectations when I realised it was about whales, and then was delighted at the humour (the dialogue around being ‘buffetted by temptation’ will live on forever in my mind).

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