Now there is a gravel road running east to west where the track once was, but the rivulets the rainwater makes in the gravel look exactly the same as when there were only tree roots and branches bending in opposite directions in that spot. At the crest where the break in the vegetation was and where animals stopped to look about, there now is a church. Its spire is higher than the currawalli trees, even though some of them are two hundred years old. the gravel road is called Currawalli Street.
In a street on Melbourne’s outskirts a community grows in the months before the Great War (World War 1) – seven houses with very different inhabitants, but brought together by their location and their growing sense of the impact world events will have on their lives. Years later, in 1972, Jim, a soldier fresh from fighting in Vietnam, returns to the same street following the deaths of his family. The street is much changed, but the residents have links to those 1914 characters, the third generation of families living in Currawalli Street. The changes in that time are many – more houses have been built, the city has come closer, and cars and electric ovens are the norm. The attitude to war, too, is different, with the monument which stands to the first war a sign of different attitudes to those faced by Jim. Yet in Currawalli Street there are some things that don’t change, especially the sense of community between family and friends old and new.
Currawalli Street is a quiet book. There is no strong single plot line, with multiple strands in both the first and second parts of the book, and the jump from 1914 to 1972 forcing the reader to try to draw the connections between the characters and events of the two times. Whilst this is a little disconcerting, the overall effect is in making the reader examine the characters, following their stories for a while then surmising what may have happened both in the intervening years and, at the book’s end, in the years to come. Some readers will find this frustrating, but others will enjoy the rich layers of character and setting.
Currawalli Street, by Christopher Morgan
Allen & Unwin, 2012
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.