Aussie Book Review: Goodbye Lullaby by Jan Murray #aww2012

Goodbye Lullaby Goodbye Lullaby by Jan Murray


 Review copy provided by DMCPR Media

 Mira (Harlequin), September 2012

 Synopsis-In September 1971, 181 numbered marbles roll around in a barrel while Australia holds its breath. The last number drawn will shatter two women’s lives, and bring them together again…

Sixteen-year-old Caroline ‘Miki’ Patrick confides to her best friend — the outspoken, smart-mouthed Jude — that she’s pregnant. Miki’s parents place her in the iron embrace of St Anthony’s, a home for wayward girls, with the scheming Sister Angela pressuring her to give up her baby. But Jude convinces Miki they can raise the child, and together they make a pact and take to the road.

But the teenagers are ill-prepared for the hardships they face, and after one particularly difficult night, fate separates them. Alone, poor and scared for her baby’s welfare, Miki ultimately surrenders Dominic to the home.

Two decades later, Miki is a dangerous woman, and she’s on the run. A vocal anti-war activist who assists draft dodgers, Miki is hiding from the Federal Police and never stays in one place very long. That is, until Dominic’s birthday is drawn in the conscription lottery and Jude steps back into her life.

Now Miki and Jude will stop at nothing to be reunited with him…

 Review-  Goodbye Lullaby explores a range of societal and political issues faced by Australians across the 1950s- 1970s including the Stolen Generation and displacement of Aboriginal people, forced adoptions by adolescent girls and the lack of government support for the socioeconomically disadvantaged in this time. But not only does it explore the issues women in society faced, but men too and compulsory conscription to the army during the Vietnam War.

Goodbye Lullaby explores the past (1950s) and present (1970s) life of Caroline ‘Miki’ Patrick who pregnant at sixteen was sent to a home for unmarried women with child. The church arranged adoptions of these babies to married couples who were unable to conceive. Vulnerable, completely isolated apart from her best friend Jude and innocent to the ways of the world, Miki is left to make a decision that will affect the rest of her life, her child’s too. Nineteen years later, Miki is on the run from the police due to her political interests and commitment to helping young men who want to escape conscription.

I found myself quite enthralled in the story of Miki as a teen, she’s quite naïve and lost at first but finds the strength to cope with the hurdles placed in her path. Jude is an outgoing, big-mouthed and undoubtedly loyal friend who has big plans for them and the baby. But her fanciful ideas intrude on Miki’s practical nature and the girls find themselves growing apart when they need each other the most.

At times I was a little lost in the snippets of Miki’s life in the 1970s, this part of her life was slow to unravel and so I felt I was watching her life unfold from the outskirts rather than feeling emotionally linked with her. When Miki’s viewpoint was of a teen, I felt much more connected with her as a character. I really liked how the author created a picture of young Miki and the adult Miki, though I felt her teen years were better developed than the later years. The author also touches on the effects of the Stolen Generation and the young Aboriginal children who were removed from their parents and ‘mobs’ due to naïve political motivations. Miki’s friend Bernie is an Aboriginal woman who is an ally for her across her lifespan, a strong woman who despite the adversity she faces rises above this with obvious resilience.

Goodbye Lullaby is an interesting story that explores some of the horrid experiences of our nation that occurred only half a century ago or less. Murray has a very matter-of-fact writing style with characters that are sharp and flawed, but likeable nevertheless. A thought-provoking fictional read about Australia’s recent social and political history.

Overall Rating


“I really liked this” 

Goodbye Lullaby can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

About the author: Jan Murray has lived long enough to have had several professional occupations but the one she is most proud to proclaim from on high is that of mother, having raised five amazing children to adulthood.

At fourteen, frustrated by her lack of education, Jan left school, taking it upon herself when her fifth child was born to matriculate and then undertake a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science. Juggling motherhood with study, she graduated from Macquarie University with Honours, working as a researcher, speech writer and press officer for several federal politicians before starting up a PR consultancy in the early eighties. Jan Murray & Associates (JMA) became a successful boutique consultancy with many high profile accounts to its credit.

Eventually, after a decade of serious corporate fun launching entertainment, tourism and property projects, managing the media profiles of the rich and famous and heading up some useful (and mostly altruistic) fund-raising projects, Jan decided it was time to leave the spin business to others, opting to follow a dream and take up the solitary life of a writer, setting her sights on writing and producing the Great Australian Screenplay. Although credible actors such as Kiefer Sutherland and Claudia Karvan were attached, Sweet Surrenderis still languishing in a bottom drawer waiting for several millions of dollars to attach themselves to it before the cameras can roll.

Meanwhile, Jan was invited to appear as a guest on an episode of the legendary Beauty & the Beast agony aunt show produced by Foxtel and screened on Channel Ten five days a week. Somebody upstairs must have liked her confrontational, leftie style because she was still there a decade later, going head-to-head with the late, great Stan Zemanek. More than once, Jan was thrown off the show but, thanks to popular demand, was brought back again each time. It seems the viewers saw her as their champion and enjoyed seeing her sock it to the Beast on their behalf!

Presently Jan is a full-time, fulfilled writer and, because she is in favour of the widest possible spread for her books, she values her association with Harlequin.

This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge:


  • This one sounds interesting, Jayne–I have it on my review pile to check out. 🙂 I’m intrigued by how you connected more with Miki during her teen years, and about your comments about feeling as though you were an outsider looking in on her life during the later stages of the book.

    • I’d say it’s probably because Miki learnt to avoid thinking about her distressing past, so her emotional projection was less obvious than in her teens. She was a little more closed off as an adult which made it tougher to connect with her on an emotional level.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: