BOOK CLUB: Smashing Serendipity – The Story of One Moorditj Yorga

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Smashing Serendipity by Louise K Hansen is a book that I feel everyone should read.  I found myself feeling so very angry and sad for an entire race of people. It’s so very shameful how the First Nations Australians were treated by white folk.

Lavinia was the ninth child of ten.  She was born with hazel eyes and blonde hair. The hair colour came from her Irish ancestor but being the only one in the family or for that matter in her mob with blonde hair meant that she was singled out by the other children and teased. She never felt that she was in any way beautiful and so badly wished that she had beautiful dark hair like her sisters.

She saw firsthand the abuse that white men inflicted upon her family members and how their laws were designed to make the First Nations people act more like white folk.  They were banned from speaking their native language and if caught, women risked having their children taken from them so they could be raised in white Christian homes.

She saw the damage the consumption of alcohol could cause and decided that it was not something that she would ever take part in.  When she proudly had children of her own, she reached a point where her children were taken from her but she worked hard to get them back and won.

Lavinia shows that she has strength and courage. She raised her family with love and a strong sense of pride. She taught by example and led a life she was proud of.

I really was thrilled to be able to read this story of such a wonderfully strong woman.  The book made me feel so many emotions and I feel much more knowledgeable after reading it.  I was so moved that I decided I wanted to get in touch with her to let her know how wonderfully moving I found her story.  I was saddened to hear that she passed away in June 2022.

I suggest that you take the time to read this book.  I am very sure you won’t be disappointed and I am also sure that you will learn things and become more educated – and that is always a good thing.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Smashing Serendipity – The Story of One Moorditj Yorga by Louise K Hansen. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Smashing Serendipity – The Story of One Moorditj Yorga

  1. Smashing Serendipity by Louise K Hansen is a fascinating story of her life, from her childhood growing up in Pinjarra to her career developments as a prominent woman working in government, even being appointed as a representative on the federal Family Law Council.

    Louise (Lavinia) does an excellent job of explaining her culture and her people’s hardships without it being a tale of ‘poor me’.

    I especially liked how she held onto her spirituality and her connection to the land.

    Even though in some parts it was difficult to read what her people had been through (some traumatizing experiences such as children being taken away), she always told her story with a positive spin on her love for her family, her pride for her children and her mob and her triumphant achievements.

    When I turned to google to seek further information about Louise’s career, I was saddened to learn she passed away last year.

    Her family should be incredibly proud of her life story and her success, she has left a lasting legacy on Australia that can’t be measured.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book & recommend everyone should read it to get a better insight into what our Aboriginal people have had to endure and what they are capable of, given the right support.

  2. Thank you to Beauty and Lace Club Fremantle Press for my copy.

    This wonderful book had me from go to whoa! I loved the author’s story of her life that she told to her children and grandchildren around a campfire which lasted most of the night. Starting out in the 1950’s, Pinjarra in the south west of Western Australia where the author was born and moves around the area to Medina and some areas of Perth. I am familiar with some of the Nyoongar language and some of the words are slightly different in this book as they are Binjarib specific.
    I liked the nice short chapters and found the book hard to put down. Lavinia’s childhood was a great one, they didn’t have much, but boy they had fun camping, fishing, playing sport, yarning, hunting and playing with their large and extended family. Lavinia and her many siblings were well looked after by their two supportive and great parents. Everyone was welcome in their home, even the wadjerlar ( white ) kids that didn’t have such a great home life.
    Racism and discrimination are well and truly in the author’s life as a child and an adult and I really felt for her family and all the Nyoongars in the area . It didn’t take much for the authorities to take children away from their parents and put them into homes or foster care. Everyone had to report their movements all the time or risk having their children taken away.
    There is a lot of sadness in this book, but also many good times, hardship, violence and struggle and overall the whole book was so enjoyable that I felt sad when it ended. The Nyoongar glossary at the end is very helpful and worth reading.
    5 Stars

  3. Smashing Serendipity: The story of One Moorditja Yorga by author Louise Hansen draws the reader in to a yarn told by Lavinia. She tells her children and grandchildren the story of her life and the stories of the other strong determined women around her.
    Lavinia’s yarn is entirely raw, gritty and truly inspiring as well as a thought provoking and brutally honest story of her life. A life that is representative of the lives of so many other Aboriginal women who are just like Lavinia. Lavinia’s story shows us that life is tough for Lavinia and her family who are living in a small community where racism and violence is a common occurrence. Despite the violence and adversity Lavinia excels at both sport and school. As time passes Lavinia becomes a homeless young widow and mum of 4 and having to face that her children have been taken from her. She could have easily found herself a victim of circumstance, but she has such amazing inner strength, resilience and determination she makes something of herself. She is determined to make things right and gets an education and successfully reunites her small family.
    Lavinia’s yarn really opened my eyes to what life was like for Aboriginal people and the injustices they faced. I found myself very inspired by her resilience and life story.
    Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Freemantle Press for my treasured copy of Smashing Serendipity.

  4. I really loved this book. It’s one of the best stories I have ever read.
    Lavinia is such a brave person in every area of her life. It was so interesting to read what she went through to become so successful in her life, men and authorities making everything so difficult. She was a wonderful mother over all.

  5. Smashing Serendipity! Wow! I took my time reading this wonderful story. Lavinia a Kate Connell is an amazing blonde haired, hazel eyed, fair skinned Nyoongar girl! I put amazing but the description hardly described the woman or the life she has had. As she tells her story to her grandchildren around a camp fire, you get to feel the love and hear the challenges she has had especially from age 16 years. Struggles are there as part of her life but one thing she always ensure is that her children are well grounded and loved. She becomes a widow at a young age, with 4 children, but she keeps going and meeting each challenge head on. It’s a lovely story, a story to take your time reading to feel the impact she has had on many lives, especially Aboriginal and standing up to her rights as a mother, woman and her cultures. A truly inspiring story and one of learning.

  6. Smashing Serendipity by Louise K. Hansen is a fabulous read which I found hard to put down and really didn’t until I’d finished it !
    Sitting alongside her adult grandchildren whilst on a camping trip with them, grandson Bruce asked the author to tell them about her life “back in the days” when she was young. Lavinia pondered this for a short time having experienced so much and then decided it was time to share her life, the good and the bad, with them to ensure the younger generations knew about the past. The book is an accounting of Lavinia’s memories of her life experiences within her Nyoongar family and their lives in Pinjarra.
    Lavinia’s journey was not an easy one and she recounted many trials and tribulations growing up as a fair haired Aboriginal girl in a time of prejudice and discrimination. Despite the hardships and cultural barriers Lavinia was well loved by her parents and siblings and found strength in her belief in God, her Noongar culture and spirituality. From her humble beginnings, Lavinia, now a grandmother and great grandmother, became the first Aboriginal person to be appointed to the federal Family Law Court, to assist in making laws that could affect all Australians, black and white, irrespective of their cultural background. An amazing life story of an inspiring and strong woman.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read and review Smashing Serendipity. I highly recommend this book.

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