Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Salt Creek

Salt Creek
Lucy Treloar
Aardvark Bureau
London, England
ISBN: 97881910709351
Trade Paperback
September 2017
$ 15.95
464 pages

Most of us strive for adventure and riches in fulfilling their dreams of the future.
Hester Finch's grandparents arrived in Australia from England continuing their lives of wealth and status.  Unfortunately, for Hester and her siblings, her father has dreams.  This was life on her mother's side of the family who fell in love with a man who was considered beneath her.   Yes, he wanted the family to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to living.
Having already failed at many prospective investments and opportunities, he decides that the family needs to start over.
He chooses a deserted, dry region new Salt Creek in South Australia, uprooting their lives in every aspect with dreams of success and wealth.
For Hester Finch, being the eldest daughter in 1855, many of the household duties fell upon her shoulders as the eldest and most capable female child. Her mother is pregnant and can do longer fulfill these duties due to many pregnancies and aging every year.   A mother of many children can only give birth safely for a limited number of years.  While her older brothers build their house and work in the fields, it is her responsibility to educate her younger siblings, be responsible for their actions, cook, clean, and care for her mother.  
Should any fifteen-year-old be enslaved into an unrewarding never-ending position for possibly the rest of their life?
Socially moving from a successful, wealthy family to becoming a poor and isolated family who is barely surviving is challenging if not depressing to fifteen-year-old Hester.   Her problem is how can any fifteen-year old have hope for a future.  Is this her permanent life?   No hope of love, marriage, children of her own, but just living as the family's devoted slave?  Is this all life has to offer?
The story is seen through Hester's eyes, both in1855 as the family first relocates to Salt Creek and during 1870 with Hester in England reflecting on her past life.
What is fascinating in the book is the role and importance of women throughout Australia 1855 including the issues of the wealthy Brits, the Native culture, the poor white settlers and people of various backgrounds and perspectives.
Multiple realistic issues are woven into these memorable characters of all ages, gender, race giving the novel authenticity since the story is loosely based on the author's ancestral history during this time of immense societal change in Australia.
While having wealthy and independent society women,  abusive relationships, indentured servitudes, obedient and hard-working wives who only wish to please their husbands unquestionably show the contrast in the female lives and the need of having money.
In contrast are the lives of the aborigines who have never had the privilege of money.  These people lived for years off the land and now are losing the few resources for their families to the new white settlers. The problems of land ownership, food sources, and clean water demonstrate constant challenges as well as interracial relationships steeped with prejudices from both sides.
The marriages of the time show multiple changes from marrying for love, to arranged marriages, to forcing a marriage of a family member to pay off debt, being an unwed mother all bring up situations that in some ways are relevant to all time periods.  Added to that is a mixed-race children and forcing another to marry to pay off a debt all reflect the people, place, and time.
Salt Creek is author Lucy Treloar's debut novel based on her family history of her ancestors mixed with the factual history of the region into an enthralling historical fictional novel which was published by Picador in Australia.
Already Salt Creek has been nominated and won several literary awards such as the Indie Award for Best Debut, Miles Franklin Award, The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, and on the long list of nominees for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
Salt Creek is a phenomenal tale of change in Australia in the late nineteenth century into an intricately woven tale of a true storyteller.


At some time in your life, you probably have had a time where you went to a special place in an imaginary world where you could, "Be whatever I want to be."  This pretend world is part of growing up and playing with toys.   Stories are part of that world, especially the world of the musical "Cinderella."
Beginning last weekend and continuing through Sunday, Cinderella G2K is showing at the Chanticleer Theater located at 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs.   The legendary tale is told as a musical by talented school-aged children. This is not a school-production, but extremely musical children and young adults who actually pull you into an imaginary time and place by using their natural and trained abilities as competent as any professional.   The exciting part for me is the realization that the actors and actresses live locally in our community.
As Cinderella, Carson Santee is wonderful.   Her voice and acting abilities are phenomenal in this daunting role which every little girl and many adults envy.  Her Prince Charming is Adam Fulbright, whose beautifully charming voice completely enchanted everyone.
The supporting roles of the King played by Connor Mowery, the Queen by Riley Pope, and the Herald by Garrett Pryor and the Godmother by Kira Watson are amazing.   It is difficult to believe that their acting and singing is just local talent.  Each one possesses a marvelous voice and stage presence of any professional.  I am shocked to learn that Riley Pope is only a sophomore in high school with her command of the stage and a gorgeous voice.  Garrett Pryor is also only a high school senior.
As the evil stepmother, Kyla Mittan is masterful.   The step-sisters Zoey Dittmer as Portia and Natalie  Simons as Joy is marvelous combining their musical talents into being hilarious and having fun with their roles.   These two are could easily take over the show as a comedy act.  They are delightful.
Two featured dancers, Haley Cecava and Tianna Hartin-Kovy epitomized the grace and elegance of a magical royal world.
This cast of almost fifty is supported by an amazing ensemble who frequently have short solo roles are all superb with their singing, acting, and dancing.   My only regret is that they can't wear name tags on their costumes to recognize each person individually.
The set itself is amazing.  Elegant is the best word.  Can anyone imagine building a functional background, including a town, Cinderella's home inside and out, and a ballroom which all need to be moved without noise and interference during the play in less than ninety-minutes?
Costuming-phenomenal.   Ibsen Costumes along with Ann Coombs created a magical world for almost fifty-characters with changes.
For this magical tale to happen, the behind-the-scenes activity is responsible for creating the best show possible.  Denise Putman is the director in what has to be an overwhelming and daunting challenge being responsible for the entire production.  Her time and talents are obvious with every elemental detail in this outstanding production.  Ariel Ibsen-Bauer proves to be a masterful choreographer combining the multitude of dancing skill-levels into dances that appear complicated but achievable for every cast member.  Jerry Gray keeps everyone perfectly on the beat and in-tune with his masterful musical direction.   Beth Ruiz is the perfect Stage Manager keeping everything running smoothly.  Bob Putman is superb as the Tech Designer.
Supporting the cast is both the lighting and sound crews.  Darrin Golden is in charge of light design with Hamie Katzenstein as the Light Board Operator..  Operating the spot lights are Maddy Adkins, Madeline Kanu, and Sean Kelley.   Dave Podendorf is the sound designer with Jaycee Wetenkamp operating the sound board.
Additionally, Kathy Gray is  the props designer.
The Chanticleer Board of Directors is wonderful in annually, having a children's theater show to promote the local community young talented individuals.
The Back Stage Crew is instrumental in the show running smoothly.  Beth Ruiz, Kent Ruiz, Cindy Frank, Rob Dittmer, Harrison Sprecher, and Kaitlyn Richardson assisted with this enormous task.
Cinderella is the perfect show for children and adults of all ages.  The Rodgers and Hammerstein music is melodic and easy to remember while also relaying the story.  The actual program is fast' paced and lasts less than ninety minutes with eleven scene changes.
Cinderella continues this weekend with showtimes at 7:30 pm on both Friday and Saturday nights and at 2 pm on Sunday.   Tickets can be obtained by going to the Chanticleer Box Office located at 830 Franklin Avenue in Council Bluffs between the hours of 9 and noon or by calling 712-323-9955, or e-mail at chanticleertheater@gmail.com.  The cost of tickets is $20 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students.
Take a day this weekend with the glorious music of Rodgers and Hammerstein in the magical world of "Cinderella."