The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover – Book Review

Was there really a time before Avocados?

Yes apparently there was such a time, can you even imagine it??

I enjoyed this book and kept reading interesting bits out to my husband, before he told me that he’d read it himself, so could I not share all the good bits along the way!

As a child during the years of this book, 1960s and 70s, I remember lots of these happenings, but with perspective and age now, it appears they perhaps weren’t quite the heady days we remember. Richard Glover has covered so much in this book, attitudes to women, parenting styles, food, anyone who was different, politics, history…the list is endless.

It was fun reading and looking back. I enjoyed his research findings and thinking about the way things have changed in the decades since the 1960s.  Mainly for the better I will add!

I can’t wait to give it to my daughters to read, they probably won’t believe half of it.

The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover
The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

The official blurb reads like this:

A funny and frank look at the way Australia used to be – and just how far we have come.

‘It was simpler time’. We had more fun back then’. ‘Everyone could afford a house’.

There’s plenty of nostalgia right now for the Australia of the past, but what was it really like?

In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It’s a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and, now and then, surprisingly appealing.

It’s the Australia of his childhood. The Australia of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Let’s break the news now: they didn’t have avocado.

It’s a place of funny clothing and food that was appalling, but amusingly so. It is also the land of staggeringly awful attitudes – often enshrined in law – towards anybody who didn’t fit in.

The Land Before Avocado will make you laugh and cry, feel angry and inspired. And leave you wondering how bizarre things were, not so long ago.

Most of all, it will make you realise how far we’ve come – and how much further we can go.

Like Richard Glover, I also grew up in the Land Before Avocado (although I am younger than him – I thought I’d just point that out).


Who would like this book?

I have read a few other books by Richard Glover and always enjoy his weekly radio show and his sense of humour, so I was looking forward to reading this one.

If you find yourself unbelieving of a time before there was avocado, then I suggest you read this book!

If you were a child or teenager during the 60 and 70s in Australia or a parent during this time, you’ll definitely have flashbacks!  I know I did 🙂

If you’re interested in history, even recent history, then you’ll probably enjoy this.

What scared me the most was how so much has changed in just a few decades and that I’ve lived through these changes. I’m not even that old!! I was gobsmacked by many of the things that went on back then and angered too, if I’m honest.

Married women unable to get home loans on their own; divorce statistics; the invention of the wine cask; telephones and not just mobile phones; the attitudes to single mothers; the environmental changes; basic water and sewage improvements (I can still remember having an outside toilet for goodness sake); attitudes to drink driving, smoking and al fresco dining and then all the immigration debates….

From the book: 

It’s natural to look back at one’s younger years through rosy spectacles.  For most of us it was the last time we were attractive, wrinkle free and had knees that didn’t crack.  But what was the wider society like?  What were it’s values?

The Australia of my youth had many virtues.  To cite just three:

  • None of the negative side of the internet – the whole body-shaming, anxiety-inducing, time-destroying project of social media – occasionally lifting our mood, more often depressing it.
  • No ‘gig-economy’ – that phrase people use when they are trying to create a hip feel around the destruction of workers’ rights
  • House were a lot cheaper. A lot cheaper. No, really: a lot.

But as I surf in this area of happy nostalgia, I wonder: how does this period really compare to today?  Have we simply forgotten what life was like? Should we more grateful for the changes that have come to Australia in the decades since?

The Australia of my youth also had many vices.  To cite just three:

  • Banks, by and large, wouldn’t lend money to women – not unless they had a male guarantor.
  • Life was difficult if you were different in any way.
  • If you were a child, no one would take your side.

A highly recommended read!  When I finished this book I tweeted about it and was thrilled to get a response from Richard himself!

I repeat my line from above: I can’t wait to give it to my daughters to read, they probably won’t believe half of it – but some sympathy for what I had to endure would be good!

Let me know if you’ve read it yet and what you thought of it.

Deb xx


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45 Replies to “The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover – Book Review”

  1. Thank you so much for this review Deb. I’m a big fan of Richard Glover. Loved him in Doug Anthony Allstars and always listen to his podcast. I thought I’d read all his books but this one slipped by me. Definitely on the to-read list. After Richards reply to your tweet, I’m keen to find out about the ‘horrific bits’ #MLSTL Shared onSM

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just added to my goodreads list. As a California kid, I cannot imagine a land without avocado. We had one in the yard! But I do remember women couldn’t get credit in their name. Thankfully, we’ve always had an indoor toilet. Memoirs are usually very interesting reads. Thank for the recommend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, how could there have been a time when avocados weren’t a staple food choice?? It was an interesting time in our country and I’m glad we’ve moved on and improved many of the injustices that were happening. We have further to go though! Thanks for your comment!


  3. Congrats on the comment back from Richard! I have to tell you I was not a fan. Maybe because I have read his first book and maybe because I was an adult in those times. I admit I listened via Audible and just found his reading a bit ‘twee’ and yet generally I like Richard’s work. I am also 100% fan of William McInnes and his story telling and so will probably keep my memories and allegiances with him. I admit I have no idea when I first started to like avocado but it was like about 15 years ago I think!!

    Denyse #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Deb I was looking for a good book! I’m so very definitely going to get this one 🙂 Although I wasn’t around in Australia then I’m sure I’ll laugh and cry too about the changes which really have been rapid. I expect there will be a lot of similarities to life growing up in England then too. Avocado? Avocado who? I remember when Ski Yoghurts came in too – what a delight and rare one they were in our house! #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think we look back at that time from a child’s point of view and it was definitely a simpler time. I didn’t know anyone from a broken home, I didn’t know anyone whose mother worked until I was in my teens – no wonder women couldn’t get a bank loan! Things have changed beyond recognition – I think the internet has a lot to do with it – we have access to so much information and so many different viewpoints. I don’t think our world is better than it was back then – just different – we gained a lot, but also lost many things in the process.
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I hadn’t heard that term before either, although I’m wondering if I did hear it in a recent Doctor Who episode now that I come to think of it, I think a baby was named pear avocado! Thanks Jennifer 🙂


    1. It may not mean as much to you, not being an Australian and not growing up here. Just depends, there’s probably other books you should read first if you don’t know much about Australia. Also this guys humour is a bit different! Thanks for your visit.


  6. Hi Deb, I haven’t read this book but Jo Tracey also mentioned it recently. Growing up in the 60s and 70s seemed so much simpler then, although we still had our problems. I think we always like to look back with a nostalgic eye until something like The Land Before Avocado actually says it as it was. I know my husband would have said it wasn’t that great being called up for National Service and going to Vietnam, then coming home and being treated like an outcast. It certainly affected him throughout his life and has often mentioned that he thought the war was bad to live through until he came home and had to live through the ‘welcome’ or ‘unwelcome’ home period. Thanks so much for sharing your review with us at #MLSTL and I will be adding it to my reading list. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I can only imagine how awful that time would have been for Mike and many others in a similar situation. It’s a dreadful part of our history. I enjoyed the book, many thanks for your thoughts and for sharing too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. The book sounds fabulous, Deb… no doubt variations on a theme for those of us from an “other” of the colonies! The title is perfect as I was definitely an adult before I ever heard of avocados, let alone acquired an appreciation for them! Thanks for the review. #mlstl

    Liked by 1 person

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