Captain Jim, by Mary Grant Bruce

Reviewed by Tash Hughes

Captain Jim is the sixth in a series of fifteen books about Norah Linton and her family on their station, Billabong. The series was very popular with girls as they were printed, and has touched generations of Australians and others. Billabong is an isolated cattle station in Northern Victoria in the early 1900s. Having never known her Mother, Norah lives with her Father, David, elder brother, Jim, and their friend, Wally Meadows.

The family is in England during the first world war and Norah has just inherited a large home in Surrey from an Irishman they had adventures with in the previous book. Wally sees that Norah and her Father can somehow use the house to aid the war whilst he and Jim are off fighting.

Norah sets up the house as a home for lonely soldiers on leave and those recovering from injuries. They find people to work with them in the house and on the surrounding farmlet. It is not much later that Jim and Wally return to the front as soldiers again.

Soldiers from Jim and Wally’s regiment are the first guests, including their Major’s family who stays with them for the war’s duration. Australians become frequent visitors, also, including Harry Trevor a friend from the first Billabong book.

After a while, the house is very busy and often full. Norah and David Linton fit into the country life around them, even joining in a spring hunt. It is upon their return from the hunt that the telegram arrives with news of Jim’s death.

This news is a hard blow to Norah and her Father, and keeps Wally from visiting them in his guilt and anguish. Being in the house of soldiers gives them a purpose to continue on and many support them in their grief. Grant finishes the book six months later, at Christmas, with family celebrations including all the house guests.

Captain Jim, by Mary Grant Bruce
Ward, Lock and Co, 1919