Review from Amazon
With great powers of observation Judy King takes one on a tough but worthwhile journey peppered with humour. Her strong descriptive writing paints beautiful, often familiar pictures of the NSW countryside and the city of Sydney. Agnes' strong character enables her to overcome the many, sometimes horrific and unthinkable obstacles and occurrences in her life. I have recommended this book to my book club without hesitation, knowing it will generate lively discussion on many topics.
Review from the paperback edition review on Waterstones
An engaging and beautifully written novel tracing a woman’s journey to heal the present and future by uncovering the truths of the past.
The novel took me from London and Mallorca to Sydney where Agnes grew up. The sense of place and time is wonderful. You are there with Agnes in 50s and 60s Australia as her past is revealed to her.
The characterisation is fantastic - the dominant mother, the (seemingly) absent father; the diverse people Agnes meets and ‘adopts’ to help her survive her difficult youth.
This is an important novel which tells of survival in difficult circumstances, yet at the same time it is written with a light and sometimes humorous touch and you are filled with hope for Agnes’s healing and future.
Review on Twitter
Her story is quite profound as we’re taken on a journey of healing in order for Agnes to find her voice and courage once more.
#BOOKTOUR #REVIEW – Agnes’s Broken Dreams by Judy King – #AgnessBrokenDreams @judykingauthor @matadorbooks @RandomTTours #RandomThingsTours #prdgreads
This was such a difficult read all the way through, it really took a toll on your emotions. I felt for Agnes.. where she found the strength to carry on from I’ll never know!
I know this was fiction, but it honestly felt like a memoir/biography. it took you through Agnes’s whole life, her family life was heartbreaking you could feel the hatred and anger that her parents had for her dropping off the page, the only highlight she had throughout were school friends whose houses she was able to escape to & even that didn’t last.
As she got older the pressure she feels from both herself and family members just keeps mounting.
Watching her come into her own and confront her past was such an amazing feeling like she was almost sticking her middle finger up to everyone who was against her.
I couldn’t read this on one go as the subject matter was heavy, but my word was it worth it!
This compelling fictional memoir is an astonishing blend of lively, sophisticated human observation and harrowing psychological hardship. With intelligence and sensitivity, the author reveals shocking themes in her family: childhood abuse, reluctant adoption and adult hypocrisy among other concerns. But the book is also sprinkled with joyous moments of liberation, such as her beloved diving hobby and the sense of freedom provided by little summer jobs. The story of Agnes is shaped from a number of retrospective angles, covering the end of a second marriage, a resilient faith, newfound creativity with words and soulful friendships.
Our heroine is an Australian, now a Spanish resident, and the book spans 60 years of her life within (and apart from) her dysfunctional family. You may think many families might be described as “dysfunctional” but as Agnes, aged 59, retraces her steps to discover the truth behind her teenage amnesia and adult emotional patterns, the Keen family will be set apart, on the far end of the spectrum of dysfunction.
With two brothers, neither of whom are kindred spirits, Agnes grows up on Sydney’s well to do North Shore with the guilt of a fatal accident on her conscience, blamed by her “monster” negligent mother. Relationships with a series of “other” families figure in her young life and she is able to form some important friendships with kids, teachers and parents until her family spoils things again. Agnes has low self-esteem as a consequence of the neglect and bullying she receives at home. There is, however, the heartbeat of a strong, sensible and thankfully rebellious woman behind the vulnerability and eagerness to please.
Agnes experiences the theatre and acting, modelling in commercials as a bonny redhead, and a period of nursing where she encounters both positive and negative personalities. She finds herself in real estate and has the chutzpah to take risks that pay off. She builds herself financial security and obviously shines in her professional life where her honesty and drive are valued.
Agnes will inspire your admiration and affection as she navigates school, work, aunts, uncles, nuns and priests to find her voice and bring herself back Down Under on a journey to heal from a highly charged and often painful upbringing. She goes from being semi-literate and stuttering due to her emotional states to finding fluid self-expression. The heartbreaking description of the nightmare in which she loses her voice as a child will stay with me forever.