BOOK CLUB: Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here

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Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here by acclaimed novelist Heather Rose is a piece of writing that sits somewhere between a memoir and a meditation. It’s the sort of work that I’d normally loathe, but instead, I was fascinated, absorbed, and moved.

To me, it seemed divided into three main themes: Rose’s early years growing up in Tasmania, and the events that shaped her. Then it moves on to her spiritual beliefs and practices. It finishes with a consideration of the degenerative illness that has also significantly shaped her life.

It’s not that neat, of course. No one lives a life so precisely divided. But it feels that this is how Rose has given the work boundaries and shape, by choosing to focus on those areas in turn.

This is not a biography. It lacks both the detail and the chronology that you’d expect to find in his type of book. Rose also acknowledges that there are some things that might be regarded as historical inaccuracies, largely to protect the privacy of those who do not or might not want to be written about. However, this work is intensely personal and at the end, I felt I knew Rose well, perhaps better than if she had precisely recorded dates and times, and events.

Rose talks about the tragedies and challenges that marked her childhood and early adulthood with clarity, but with a lack of analysis. The emotional load is strong, and it draws you into the overall work with considerable power. However, Rose does not seem much inclined to retrospectively debate meaning much beyond her thoughts at the time. It gives the reader plenty to mull over.

It also creates a sense of immediacy, increasing the emotional impact of her matter of fact description of some quite awful events. If you’ve ever lost someone, this section may be quite triggering. However, there’s also hope and encouragement there – if only in the fact that she and other members of her family kept going – and it may also be comforting.

The middle section was the one I was least engaged with. This was an exploration of Rose’s spiritual beliefs and practices, and how she developed them. I am rather cynical about these things, and don’t generally take well to people proselytising. Rose engaged me exactly because she wasn’t doing this. She explains what she does, and rather less directly, what it does for her mentally and physically.

I found her descriptions of various rituals fascinating and moving because of the subtle way she implied their impact on her and her life. I have rarely appreciated a piece of writing about spirituality as I did this one.

Finally, Rose reveals and discusses the illness which has had a major impact on her life. Again she tends to the matter of fact, somehow incorporating a significant emotional impact even as it feels that she’s skating over the surface of some things.

I enjoyed reading this immensely, finding myself surprised by how fascinated and moved I was by things that normally wouldn’t interest me much. Rose is a powerful writer. This will appeal to anyone who’s looking for strong writing, and the possibility of being engaged with the subject matter they might normally find uninteresting.

I think it’s left up to the reader whether any conclusions have been reached. However, this is thoughtful and moving, a wonderful insight into how a person is shaped. It’s well worth your time.

ISBN: 978-1-76106-632-0

Copy courtesy of Allen and Unwin (2022)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here by Heather RoseYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here

  1. Heather Rose is a well-known Australian writer. Her memoir Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here is an honest, intriguing, gripping memoir that will make the reader think about their own lives and how they live them.
    Heather was brought up in country Tasmania near the beach, water played a huge role in her childhood as sadly did tragedy. She and her family were traumatised by an event when she was a child. Its clear this event has affected her whole life; it broke up her family and sent her on a search around the world for meaning and resolution.
    After the first few chapters I felt quite drained and felt that whatever came next in her life would be influenced by the traumatic events of her childhood. I wondered how the title could be Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here when on the face of it terrible things did happen to her and her family.
    As soon as she is able Heather takes off to explore the world and her travels take her through Asia and she experiences debilitating illness but also finds peace, for a while, living in a monastery. Heather continues her worldwide search for meaning and it was interesting to learn about some of the, on the face of it, strange rituals she took part in. She is a very brave woman who has faced many obstacles physically and emotionally.
    Each chapter has a title and a quotation that reflects the story in that chapter. Some of the quotations really spoke to me and I have made a note of them. Along with the list of her ideas to make the most of life.
    I wasn’t sure about this memoir at first but as Heather’s story moved along I was fascinated and it is one that will stay with me for a long time.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this memoir

  2. Thanks to Beauty & Lace Book Club and Allen & Unwin for both the opportunity to read and review this book.
    A compelling memoir, Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here is author Heather Rose’ reflection on love, death, creativity and healing that comes about after a family tragedy that occurred when she was just 12 years old. This memoir is intensely compelling and heartbreakingly beautiful and exhibits both courage and joy despite the tragedy that occurred in her early life and the struggles faced. By reading this I am reminded to embrace gratitude and embrace joy.

  3. Nothing bad ever happens here

    Having heard many great things about Heather Rose’s books I was intrigued to read her memoir.
    From the beginning I was hooked. I loved the way it was written and the interesting life that Heather lives.
    An extrodinary woman who despite chronic pain lives a full life discovering herself in many ways with a great determination. Living with a partner with chronic pain I understand how hard this is and the struggles. Her outlook on life is fantastic.
    Heather was honest and forthcoming in her beliefs.
    This book came to me at a time where I needed to read it and would like to thank Beauty and Lace and Allen & Unwin for my copy to read and review.

  4. Nothing bad ever happens here, by Heather Rose is a compelling insight into a life truly lived. Each of us carry our own story and as such this piece is extremely relatable. Childhood tragedy, broken marriage, serious illness all affect us at some stage it seems. Heather writes honestly and openly about her path in life. It is refreshing to see a life that was lived in approximately the same duration as my own, though transversing a vastly different path. I was very intrigued to learn about her attendance at the Sun Dance and it’s subsequent impact on her life.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this work and excitedly wait to hear more from Heather Rose.

  5. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Allen&Unwin for the opportunity to review ‘Nothing Bad Ever Happen Here’ by Heather Rose.
    This is a book of memories of the author’s life. How she grew up in Tasmania, how she appreciated the freedom and beauty, and of her childhood there. The closeness she felt with her parents and grandparents, and the sadness and loss she carried with her from that idyllic childhood.
    Her relationships and her spiritual awakening. The travelling she did and the experiences she had. The health issues she overcame, and how she is still managing her health.
    This was such an interesting read, I really enjoyed it’s wonderful descriptions. It’s sad at times and I admit I shed a tear or two.
    Thankyou Heather Rose for sharing your experiences.

  6. This was an unusual book for me to read as it is not my usual choice.
    Heather is certainly a strong character, someone who could travel the world and jump into so many different roles. It was interesting to read of her family history and her battle with Ankylosing Spondylitis. I found the sundancing with the Indians a bit of a challenge to read about though.
    It’s good to read a different type of book.

  7. Thanks Beauty and Lace and also Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read Heather Rose memoir Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here / I thoroughly enjoyed reliving Heather’s childhood as I could certainly relate to some aspects of it. Sadly Heather’s childhood wasn’t all happiness and we shared in the tragedy of losing family members and then the journey to discover herself in her 20s and 30s – what a journey she undertook. This was not a book i normally would read but it was one once I started I thoroughly enjoyed ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  8. Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here is a memoir of Heather and all about her life, death and the challenges in between. When Heather was twelve years of age her grandfather and brother both drowned together and later in life Heather returns to the place it happened and tries to find peace with it.

    Heather travelled to many interesting places in the world and had many experiences. One of the most interesting was her attendance at the Sun Dance and the impact it had on her life. While travelling she had many health issues that she had to overcome and some of these she still has to manage.

    Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here by Heather Rose was a different genre to what I would normally read and I found it very different to start with but did find it an interesting read and thought provoking.

  9. Thanks Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to to review Heather Rose’s Memoir “Nothing Bad ever happens here”.
    After suffering a huge loss at the age of twelve years old of her brother and Grandfather to drowning, Heather Rose’s idyllic childhood in Tasmania is unraveled and she sets upon a journey for meaning in her life, relationships and accomplishments. Touching the heartstrings, Rose describes her grief and loss and it is a very sad read to begin with.
    Heather Rose’s lovely ability to describe the ordinary and mundane, particularly nature as beautiful and worthy is a delight! Through seeking enlightenment in Thai Buddhist retreats, Lakota reserves and ancient Outback rituals, Heather takes the reader along a moving, sometimes sad journey, but uplifting story of life with grief, loss, spirituality and chronic illness being Ankylosing Spondylitis. I highly recommend this book as an inspiring and uplifting book of wisdom and an extraordinary life told with honesty and thought provoking meaning.

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