The Back Of The Back Of Beyond by Edwina Harvey (edited by Simon Petrie) (ebook review).

The back of beyond generally refers to a place far away but in Edwina Harvey’s book, ‘The Back Of The Back Of Beyond’, it’s only just the beginning of a quirky adventure with a way out destination somewhere way out there. In this case, the destination is probably the Australian Outback where an unnamed woman and her collection of equine animals live alone. Well…not quite alone because there are lots of other visitors which include aliens, dragons, a unicorn and plenty of eccentric people. This goes together to make a rather charming and humorous book, a collection of 10 stories which fit together to keep you smiling all the way through.


It begins in Sydney with a talking unicorn and a flatmate accompanied by a dragon. Some people use Toyotas but this guy employs a dragon to get him from A to B. This is quite handy for the young lady in the story because she wants to get to Melbourne for a SF convention and what better way to travel than by a dragon? This is only the start of the zany humour which permeates the entire book from start to finish.

You’ve got to feel sorry for the lady in the story. Chapter 4, entitled ‘Seeing The Light (When The Fridge Door’s Open)’, describes travelling to the countryside to look for a new home. Carrying all essentials for survival which include, ‘a case of Coke, a box of chocolate, several more boxes of books, torches, lots of batteries and lots of toilet paper’, she is undeterred by anything and anyone. An essential companion is the ancient 286 computer! It’s no surprise that chaos seems to follow her and in this case it is the guy called Bean and his dragon. She just can’t get rid of them!

Odd characters are abundant. Alice and Cooper, the two donkeys, and Clarence the Clydesdale are probably the least odd of the company. I enjoyed the chapters about alien encounters and the alien called Adam. He is a friendly chap who upgrades the old 286 computer to such an extent that it has enough memory to include the entire national library. It also has a coffee dispenser which is a very good idea if you drink a lot of coffee while working on the computer. Maybe Edwina should patent this device?

Apart from the aliens who get drunk on Coca-Cola, there are quite a few other characters, a good ploy by the author because they all exist in reality. Not only did they pay to get their name mentioned, they will undoubtedly purchase the book. That’s a good one! She has plenty of friends and I’m sure they will remain friends even after they read it.

I reviewed one of Edwina Harvey’s books before, a very good read entitled ‘The Whale’s Tale’, but this one is completely different. Sounds like Monty Python but it’s true. Her writing is concise and sharp, containing nothing superfluous while at the same time it is witty and hilarious. Throughout the stories, you begin to wonder what will happen next and usually something does happen which will be unexpected and calamitous. However, our character just ambles on as if nothing untoward has occurred. Maybe we should all take life at this pace because, if we did it, I’m sure everyone’s blood pressure would be that much lower.

In summary, what can you say about ‘The Back Of The Back Of Beyond’? Humour is a subjective thing and a joke that appeals to one person could be incomprehensible to another but I found the book to be a riot from start to finish. Hopefully, I am not too alien in nature in thinking that many other people will share the same opinion. Although it is based in Australia, it is not overpopulated by kangaroos and koala bears and, perception of humour notwithstanding, it should be appealing on a world-wide basis. I think the book will be successful and I would certainly recommend it to prospective readers.

Rod MacDonald

February 2014

(pub: Peggy Bright Books. Amazon Kindle 133 page 413kB e-book. Price: $ 5.99 (AUS), $ 5.64 (US), £ 3.43 (UK). ASIN: B00H7XXEDI)

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