The House at Evelyn's Pond, by Wendy Orr

Ruth, an Auxilary Pilot during World War Two, struggles with identity, especially when her mother lets slip that she is adopted. She finds haven in the arms of Bill, a Canadian navigator, who guides her through this trauma and through the catastrophe of losing both her parents in a wartime bombing. Their love is Ruth’s salvation, and endures until Bill’s death fifty years later.

Following his death, Ruth returns to England for the first time since their marriage. While there, she dies and it is her daughter Jane who must escort her home.

Jane has lived in Australia for all her married life – having met an Australian dairy farmer on her first trip to England. Alone without her husband, and with the sadness of her mother’s death to contend with, Jane finds the trip a trip of memories and reflections as she discovers parts of her mother’s past and relives some of her own. Alone in her childhood home she faces uncertainty and a new awareness that troubles her.

Meanwhile, Jane’s own daughter, Megan, is a on a journey of her own. In Canada for the first time, she is on a trek with a chance acquaintance. Her mother is troubled by the thought that this could be a new beginning for her daughter, in this country which is no longer home.

The House at Evelyn’s Pond is a tale of mothers and daughters, of love and of belonging. The similarities between the generations are poignant echoes of deja vu. The differences between these same generations gives each its own story.

A beautifully written exploration of family and of self.

The House at Evelyn’s Pond, by Wendy Orr
Allen & Unwin 2001

The Dragon Man, by Garry Disher

When two young women are murdered, the previously sleepy Peninsula is on full alert – there is a serial killer on the loose. Detective Inspector Hal Challis is charged with finding the killer – before another death happens. The media want to know what’s being done, with the editor of the local paper giving him particular trouble.

As Christmas approaches the Peninsula should be brimming with holiday cheer, but this year the pall of danger hangs over the area.

The Dragon Man is the first book in the Detective Inspector Challis series. Challis is based on the Peninsula, where he moves between stations as the need arises. He has come to the Peninsula following the break up of his marriage – when his wife and her lover tried to kill him. He is at once likeable and multi-faceted, with the promise of being an intriguing character to follow through the subsequent books in the series.

The Dragon Man, by Garry Disher
Allen & Unwin. First published 1999, reissued, 2003

An Innocent Gentleman, by Elizabeth Jolley

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

 

Elizabeth Jolley’s The Innocent Gentleman is a disturbing novel. On a superficial level, there is no reason why it should be disturbing. The main characters, Henry and Muriel Bell, appear to be fairly normal. They have two daughters, an irritating, critical mother-in-law, and they live in a low rental, but newly built suburban estate in the English Midlands during World War Two, where they manage their privations by teaching, and skimping wherever necessary. Into their lives comes Mr Hawthorne, a wealthy, refined man, whose social graces and privileged life make him attractive to both the Bells. The outcome of Mr Hawthorne’s relationship with the Bells is not surprising, nor is the reaction to the Bells by their somewhat less educated neighbours, the Tonkinsons. Everyone behaves with reasonable discretion, there are few scenes, and life doesn’t dramatically change in any way from the contact. It is possible to feel, after finishing the book, that nothing much has happened, and perhaps this is the reason why the novel is so disturbing, because quite a lot happens; dramatic things. There are love affairs, near deaths, disappearances, a birth, and much suffering, but in the end, it all amounts to nothing. The characters are detached from themselves, watching, analysing, and even deliberately walking towards tragedy, or some form of intensity in a desperate bid to break the sleepy film that seems to cover everything in this mannered life, where even love, birth and death are governed by such strong rules of etiquette that it all seems meaningless. Or perhaps the discomfort is due to the way the narrative voice conveys the characters themselves, offering dual glimpses of a literate, well spoken couple, and their conceits, meannesses, and the smallness of their desires.

Stylistically, the novel is an interesting combination of a traditional tightly mannered, narrative which moves forward in standard timeframe, with an experimental format that mixes a Jane Austin style narrator with a tongue-in-cheek Dramatis Personae, bits of poetry, asides, repeating passages, and cited notebook jottings. From the beginning, the Dramatis Personae sets the tone of a mannered, almost Pinteresque theatre piece, with a detached sarcastic narrator, and this feeling is continued throughout the book. The small comical exchange of voices just after the Dramatis Personae, “I’ll get him! I’ll get that Mr Hilter”, but before the start of the main narrative, provides an introduction to the setting, and also a reminder that whatever realism the novel appears to have, it is not meant to be taken at face value. The “Scottish voice” doesn’t reappear, however the coarse but earnest voice of Mrs Tonkinson does, along with Henry’s muse Wordsworth, Thomas Mann, and Dostoyevski, and hints that the appearances of this book are deceptive. A number of paragraphs repeat themselves, such as “Seating himself at the piano, he rubbed his hands together”, or “he seemed to be always ahead of her, on the pavement, as if by chance”. There is also the narrator, who seems to dislike, or at least to have a condescending attitude to the two main characters, providing ironic asides such as “her own phrase”, or “Henry continued his enlightening remarks from one day to the next”, or in its reference to Mr Hawthorne’s “elevated culture”, and the “little nucleus of culture” which exists at the Bell’s home. At a certain point in the story, Henry and Muriel become the Mother and the Father, and then this changes again to the Husband and the Wife. At one point Henry is referred to as Mr H Bell, Henry (schoolmaster). This shifting of voice and person is unsettling, as it occurs after the reader has become accustomed to Henry and Muriel, and makes it seem as though the reader himself were someone else in the scheme of the story, or listening to it from another narrator. . This clash between the mannered, linear story of the Bells, and the playful, ironic, and varying narrative makes up the tension in this novel, and helps to create a feeling of “something gone wrong” in the reader.

The title of the book indicates the presence of an innocent person, and this is also ironic, since, with the possible exception of Victor, no one in this novel is innocent. Henry talks of Hawthorne’s innocence as throughout the book. The “first sight of innocence”, as he sat “handsome and noble, large in their small sitting room”, and his unblemished innocence as a lover, and then his later innocence at the turn of events, being “too kind and perlite to say no”. Hawthorne is the obvious contender for the innocent gentleman of the title, but his polite love affair with Muriel, in which he continues to play the absent object, the hopelessly “in love” spectator, enjoying Muriel’s body without commitment, even to the son he has supposedly fathered, is hardly innocent. As readers, we know very little of Mr Hawthorne. We hear some of his dialogue, and know that he is well mannered, and well dressed, but aside from his physical encounters with Muriel, Hawthorne is a limited character, existing only as a shadow board for Henry and Muriel’s stilted desires. There are hints of some other life with his assistant Morton, and the nursemaid Sarah, who he onced “loved very much”. However, we never learn more about him, or his supposedly lonely life.

Henry is a much clearer character. The narrator makes some fun of his possessive and ineffectual aspirations towards poetry, even providing the reader with a rather bad poem, contrasting sharply with the Wordsworth which precedes it. The reader is made to dislike him, as he does some decidedly unpleasant things, such as keeping a diary of his wife’s monthly cycles, a “notebook kept for Muriel’s secret inner life”, and thinking that only men could be real poets. There is also the way in which his own desire for admiration from Mr Hawthorne causes him to push his wife into a relationship with him, urging her to go to the opera, and ignoring the early warnings of an affair which later causes him distress. He calls his wife “innocent, na├»ve, and even a little stupid”, and treats her like a little girl, and she muses on the “generous feeling” he might have had towards small boys. There is also his sympathy with German culture, and language; his imaginings of life in a German country. Henry’s desire for “poetic truth”, along with his desperation for order, and his constant self-analysing, the narrative asides of how he would “tell Muriel later”, and his later descent into his own affairs and alcohol make him seem like an unpleasant self-conscious, and ineffectual overly pompous man. Despite the negative narrative portrait, there is also much to admire in Henry. He feeds and cares for his chlidren in the face of his pretty wife’s whims and absentmindedness, and takes on much of the responsibility for her failings, while generously putting up with her difficult mother. He does also occasionally stumble on a truth, such as his desire for Muriel to “keep the real wishes in the human heart”. There is tension between the negative and positive in Henry, and like Muriel, the reader can’t determine how to view him, as wise, caretaker, poet and father, or as irritating, vain, controlling and useless.

Muriel is also a difficult character, alternating between lovelorn heroine eager for some form of fulfilment in her “gentleman”, and the self-centred, self-indulgent femme fatal, who calls her children “brats: How irritating they were when they hung onto her clothes”, and longs for status, nice clothes, and “a school where the school orchestra played Mozart and Beethoven and Vaughan Williams”. It is difficult to see who is the real protagonist, or the “dark invisible” workman, referred to repeatedly in the Wordsworth quotes. Both Henry and Muriel seem to follow some thread of desire which originates in their minds, and in the images of what love, and art are, rather than on how they really feel.

The novel takes place during WWII, although the war itself remains merely a backdrop, with ration coupons, and German lessons, and the occasional air raid. Neither Muriel nor Henry are directly involved in any fighting, and living removed from London as they do, they are hardly aware of the damage which occurs, except for Muriel’s one episode in an air raid shelter. However the real damage of the war; the real pain, provides a balance to the smaller domestic concerns of Henry and Muriel, as Muriel realises: “She reminded herself that, in the way that she lived, her prayers, if remembered, were trivial in comparison with this prayer.” The post bomb scene of the baby having his nappy changed at the edge of the crater, with the “baby boy’s tiny penis exposed” reminds Muriel how delicate life is. This brief reminder of real life, and its fragility, compared to the desperate musings of Henry and Muriel is mirrored at the end of the novel, when Muriel sees little Leopoldi’s “reliable little penis in the open air and all the responsibility in readiness”, and nearly feels something deep, and enduring, but holds back, heading the advice of Mrs Tonkonson, masseuse, woman of “second sight”, humorous neighbour, quoter of Shakespeare, and bearer of comfort for Henry, who tells Muriel that grief will stop the baby from thriving.

Another interesting character is Victor, the poorly spoken saviour of guinea pigs, and Leopoldi. Victor’s own prayer would also render those muttered by Henry and Muriel, and the Tonkinsons as trivial. His cry of grief, as he imagines having to go back to his foster home, provides a moment of colour in this black and white tale: “His cry was like the cry of a desperate animal caught in a trap”. He is the innocent gentleman, “gentle, quick, Victor”, who, despite Muriel’s bullying, still saves her child. Of course Victor fits nowhere into this English society. He is homeless, parentless, and possessed of a missing mouth roof which renders him difficult to understand. The young Bells tell Muriel that in order to make sense of Victor, “you really have to really listen”, but who has time for listening?

So what is innocence? What is love? In a sense, the label of innocence is also a way of indicating a lack of involvement; a lack of power, and most importantly, a lack of knowledge. By not fully participating in their lives, Henry, Muriel and Hawthorn maintain their innocence, even as they are guilty of hurt, pettiness, and small minded jealousies. As a comedy of manners, An Innocent Gentleman makes for a mildly humorous, and easy to read novel; a brief play which is a kind of light farce. As a commentary on the sterility of English mannered life, and as a serious work exploring issues of innocence and guilt, love and pain, and how we make meaning in our lives, the book is difficult, and disturbing, leaving the reader confused, as humour and the lightness of tone mingle with the emptiness of the characters lives, and the mingling of pettiness, desire and depravity. The characters in this novel are too familiar, their lives too similar to our own. Jolley has created an interesting novel, which explores some difficult issues in an unusual structural form. As Henry describes the salute, that “complete faith in the wholesomeness of the continuing operations”, which he later mirrors in his wrestle with Hawthorne, we begin to see that the operations are merely show, and that under the surface, “decline has already set in”.

 

Magdalena Ball is Editor of The Compulsive Reader, Preschool Entertainment, and is the author The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything. Her fiction, poetry, reviews, interviews, and essays have appeared in a wide range of on-line and print publications.

The Point, by Marion Halligan

On a promontory on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, an equisite glass building houses an equally exquisite resautrant. The city’s elite come to dine there, to eat the culinary marvels created by Flora, the city’s most celebrated chef. Nearby, in a ferry shelter which no ferry has ever visited, an eldery homeless man drinks cask wine and befriends a young drug addict. They are not part of the life inside the restaurant, until the man’s heroic actions draw them in.

As the novel focusses on food, so the story itself is like fine dining – served in differing forms, brought out layer by layer, to be savoured, explored and slowly digested. And like a good meal, the book leaves an aftertaste which lingers long after it is finished.

The art of the point is in its mix of narrative technique. Part diary, part third person recount. First one viewpoint, then another, the novel keeps the reader guessing from chapter to chapter. Flora, the charcater who would seem to be central to the varying plots and subplots is perhaps the one we come to know least. Other characters, chiefly her lover, Jerome, an ex-priest and the homeless Clovis are looked at from differing perspectives and seen to evolve. Flora is an enigma. The other characters all worship her, but few seem to know her very well.

The Point will be a special treat for those who love fine food, with meals playing an important part of the action, and also those who love Canberra – although The Point itself is a fictional place.

Fine reading.

The Point, by Marion Halligan
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Moorilla Mosaic, edited by Robyn Mathison and Lyn Reeves

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

 

Moorilla Mosaic is a collection of poetry, stories and excerpts from novels in progress, written by 27 Tamanian writers, all of whom read at the Moorilla Cultural Series in 1991 at the Moorillla Museum of Antiquities. The book reflects the wide diversity of styles and the rich landscape of Tasmanian writing, which seems to have suddenly come into strong public focus in the last year or so. As with any collection of poetry and prose by different authors, the pieces work best in small readings, taking time to allow each author’s distinctive style to settle, and for the messages to release their meaning. The collection contains from 3-5 poems or a few pages of prose from each author, which works well in allowing the reader time to become accustomed to a particular voice. The voices in this volume certainly differ. There are poems about lost innocence, travel poems, poems which equate the modern world with the ancient, and a wide range of poems about the natural beauty of Tasmania, such as Pete Hay’s “Night Owl, With Rain,” which calls upon an owl’s:

precise mourning
a soft, soft metronome, hw-how,
ticking the hours over.

or Ivy Alvarez’ “Earth” where: loam crumbs, brown earth melts under water’s welts.

There are also a number of bush style poems invoking insularity, ugliness and poverty such as Tim Thorne’s “Pension Payday” where:

You can hardly hear the sirens for the sound of breaking glass
Maggie’s in the corner with her skirts up round her arse
and Jimmy’s shat himself again and Bill’s been put away
and the form guide in the paper says its slow to dead today.

For me at least, the most powerful poems in the book however, are those which speak in a female voice, of the universal themes of motherhood, personal insecurity and loneliness. Some of those which really stand out are Liz Winfield’s anguished “Poems of Lonely Vale,” which speaks of isolation and the loneliness of a young mother:

in this place where the fog didn’t lift till lunchtime
and the sun disappeared at four
I didn’t know then that the black dog bites
as gentle as rain
as soft as your cuddle with the words
‘sometimes tears
just fall…’

Other motherhood poems also work well in their earnest and intense imagery such as Sarah Day’s “Children’s Ward” where the reader visualises a ward full of asthmatic children fighting for breath, along with the pain and warmth of one mother’s love:

She has been stroking his back since time began,
working calm’s liniment between shoulder blades
Scarcely bigger than chicken wings

or Louise Oxley’s “Bearing a Name” where we are with her in her intense labour, shocked by the realisation that at one time this kind of fairly common set of emergencies would have killed a woman:

I am called prima gravida and
you, placenta previs – deep
traverse arrest –

failed high forceps – foetal
distress – emergency caesarian
section. These are not

> the names I had in mind. How
could they be?
Before your coming to me
they did not signify.

The fiction varies too, with most of the excerpts set in Tasmanian landscapes, and most of the works chosen carefully enough so that they make sense as short stories, especially Robert Cox’s “The Darkness After Midnight” where a woman learns of her husband’s accidental death.

All of the authors in this collection are widely published, and many have become part of the Tasmanian literary canon. This book is indicative of the variety and detail of what modern Tasmanian authors have to offer the world, with their unique but also universal vision. For anyone wanting an unusual and fresh anthology of contemporary Southern Australian writing – a sampling to savour slowly – this is a nicely put together collection. You may not like every piece in it – poetry being the most subjective and personal of literary experiences, it is unlikely that every work will appeal to every reader, however, it is possible to read this and imagine yourself in the charming Moorilla museum with a glass of good wine, surrounded by objects of antiquities, excellent acoustics, and the very congenial and often moving voices of poets and novelists sharing their art.

For more information on Moorilla Mosaic, or to purchase a copy, visit: www.postpressed.com.au/verse/moorilla.html Moorilla Mosaic: Contemporary Tasmanian Writing, Edited by Robyn Mathison and Lyn Reeves
Bumblebee Books, 1991, Paperback
ISBN 0-9586133-2-X
RRP A$29.95

Magdalena Ball is Editor of The Compulsive Reader, Preschool Entertainment, and is the author The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything. Her fiction, poetry, reviews, interviews, and essays have appeared in a wide range of on-line and print publications.

An Angel in Australia, by Tom Keneally

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

There is something to be said for plain, clean narrative, with no tricks, no fancy poetry, twists or multiple time sequences. Tom Keneally’s latest novel, An Angel in Australia has been written solely with the reader in mind. It is an easy, fast paced and big hearted story which draws on Keneally’s own experiences as a child during WW2, as well as his extensive knowledge of the clergy, about which he has written. The story involves Father Frank Darragh, a young and “naive” priest, whose sense of compassion comes into conflict with the Church, the times, and threatens to undermine his own faith. The story opens in 1939, as Darragh, a priest in training, worries about his lack of involvement in the war, and receives a prophetic message from a monsignor commanding him to be a “merciful confessor.” Darragh takes the message very seriously, and from then on, the story takes place in the pivotal period of 1942, with Sydney fearing an impending Japanese invasion, visiting well heeled American troups, and air raids combining to create a change in the morality. The impact on the type of confessions Darragh starts to hear is dramatic, and his sense of divine order begins to unravel. He faces a number of startling challenges to his faith, including a fellow priest who has abused a child, homosexuality and transvestism, unfaithfulness, militarily sanctioned racial bigotry, and above all, the honest confessions of a beautiful woman accepting small favours for the sake of “dignity” while her husband is a prisoner in Germany. Frank’s attraction to the woman and her subsequent murder turn this story into a significant mystery which calls to mind Chesterton’s Father Brown stories that Frank himself is reading.

Keneally’s characters are well drawn, and we can sympathise with the gentle Frank as he does multiple battle with sin, his close minded and self serving superiors, real criminals, the law, and his own tortured sense of faith and feelings of insecurity in the face of the war. Other characters are also well drawn, with the slightest touch of Dickens, such as the monsignor Carolan, a man who excels in fund raising, but whose sense of compassion is solely lacking. There is the Cajun prisoner Gervaise, with his exaggerated politeness, his accent with its “layers of dolour and diphthong” and his hopeless future, the “worldly” inspector Kearney, the pugilistic communist saviour Trundle and the well spoken and unpenitent Kate Heggerty with her lost son, and the very American MP Fratelli, with his boxes of groceries and confident but strange air, all of whom lend colour and depth to what is essentially Darragh’s story.

Keneally is also able to create setting and place effectively, illuminating an American barracks and its relationship to its Australian environment:
They drew up to the camp gate in a country of stunted eucalypts and acacia. The rituals of admission, the gestures of the military police, were all so emphatic. Americans were good at military liturgy, an art form more casually attended to in the Australian army. No movement these men made seemed casual or negligent. In their standings-to-attention, in thier impeccable webbing, they seemed to Darragh to have built a ritual bridgehead against the enemy. (198)

Or the climactic moment when Japanese submarines attack Sydney Harbour: The peculiarities of light and tracer and shadow which had enabled them all to see the tip of the submarine had passed and been replaced by raw, unregulated sound. So simultaneously did machine-gun fire and rifle shots and shells and depth-charge explosions occur, including here, with the gun crew and the men with the automatic rifle at the end of the ferry jetty all adding their foreground quotient to the body of sound, there was not room for breath. (304)

Although this is primarily a novel of plot – a fine story, rather than a difficult exploration of ideas, Frank’s attempts to reconcile a personal morality which makes sense in terms of his own experiences with the Church’s morality is poignant and provides the backdrop or premise of the book. The Church also represents authority in all its forms, and is paralleled by the authority presented by the American army – and in both cases, this authority is found wanting in the face of true compassion and morality. Kate Heggerty cannot be saved, Gervaise is never heard from again, Carolan continues to enjoy his golf, and Darragh is laicised, but perhaps not before he is able to save Kate’s son. Ultimately, An Angel in Australia with its ambiguous title, refers to more than Kate Heggerty’s corpse, but also Darragh and his angelic soul, which rises above the constraints of his environment.

In an interview with The Compulsive Reader, Keneally said that “I firmly believe that the novel is meant to be chaotic,” and swore an oath that novels after Bettany’s Book, his previous novel, would be less inclusive. An Angel in Australia is not chaotic at all, but rather a very smooth, tightly constructed and linear narrative set in a single place and single time in history. It is certainly less inclusive than Bettany’s Book, and much more focused, although perhaps less ambitious as well. That is no crime however. It would be difficult to criticise this extremely entertaining, well constructed story which takes the reader so effortlessly into a very serious and important part of Australian and world history.

An Angel in Australia, by Tom Keneally
Doubleday
ISBN 1-86471-001-2
2002, hb, RRP A$39.95

Magdalena Ball is Editor of The Compulsive Reader, Preschool Entertainment, and is the author The Art of Assessment: How to Review Anything. Her fiction, poetry, reviews, interviews, and essays have appeared in a wide range of on-line and print publications.

A Child's True Book of Crime, by Chloe Hooper

Having an affair with a married man is always risky, more so when that man is the father of your star pupil. And when his wife has just written a book about a murder with strange parallels to your own situation, then the affair is positively dangerous.

Kate Byrne is aware of these risks, yet continues her affair with Thomas Marnes, hoping his wife Veronica does not know.

When late-night phone calls and unexplained car troubles begin to effect her, it is too late to tun back. She must weather the storm as she is carried on an unstoppable tide of fear.

A Child’s True Book of Crime
is a stunning first novel, from the talented Chloe Hooper. It is a hard book to classify – part thriller, part satire, part literary fiction – and even part children’s story. But it is the inability to classify the book which makes it so intriguing. It is unlike any other book.

A Child’s True Book of Crime, by Chloe Hooper
Vintage, 2002

The Gentleman's Garden, by Catherine Jinks

In the early 1800s, Dorothea Brande accompanies her new husband on his regimental tour of duty to colonial New South Wales. From the polite circles of her Devonshire home, to the harshness of the colony proves a terrifying adjustment for the couple.

Dorothea struggles both with the physical harshness and the desperation and brutality of most of the colony’s residents. For her husband Charles, the colony is similarly depleting. However, rather than draw them together, this mutual discomfort drives them apart

Dorothea, searching desperately for a comfort zone which will connect her with home, decides to create a cottage garden around their humble home. As she directs her convict servant Daniel in this task the pair build a strange bond. The garden is a haven for them both.

Author Catherine Jinks interweaves historical fact with a compelling story, so that the reader can truly experience Dorothea’s desperation and sense of alienation. The characters of the colony, from all walks of life, are deftly portrayed, and the development of the three principals, Dorothea, her husband Charles, and the servant Daniel is both believable and enduring.

The Gentleman’s Garden is an enticing read for lovers of historical fiction or literary masterpieces.

Catherine Jinks is a versatile writer whose work ranges across genres and age groups from children to adult. She lives in New South Wales. Her children’s novel Eglantine (Allen and Unwin,2002) is also reviewed on this site.

The Gentleman’s Garden, by Catherine Jinks
Allen & Unwin, 2002

Deadly Tide, by Sandy Curtis

When Chayse is assigned to an undercover op working on a fishing boat, he is determined not to get personally involved. But that determination is in danger of cracking when he meets the new skipper of the trawler, Samantha Bretton.

Samantha has her own reasons for not getting involved – not with Chayse, or any other man. On top of whatever lurks in her past, her father has been wrongly charged with murder and has a broken leg preventing him from returning to the boat. Samantha must work the trawler or her father faces losing it.

Thrown together by the confines of the boat and by a series of misfortunes, Samantha and Chayse fight their feelings for each other. Even when they acknowledge their bond, each has secrets which could break the relationship apart. Despite this, however, the pair continue to work at solving the murder attributed to Sam’s father. Perhaps if they can unravel that mystery they can begin to work out their other problems.

Deadly Tide is the first gripping mystery title from author Sandy Curtis. With a special combination of mystery, suspense and romance, it is a compelling read.

Deadly Tide, by Sandy Curtis
Pan Macmillan, 2003

Papua, by Peter Watt

When two men on opposing sides meet on the battle fields in World War I, neither can predict the ways their paths will cross in the future. Jack Kelly, a captain in the Australian army, shows compassion towards his prisoner Paul Mann, a German officer, forming an unusual bond. When the two meet again after the war, it is in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua. The friendship they quickly forge will last a lifetime.

In Papua both are working towards new beginnings, in search of freedom and financial security. Both want to leave behind the memories of the war and find stability for their families. But post-war life has as many lows as it does highs – both men have enemies who wouldlove tosee them fail. Only together will they overcome the odds.

Papua is a compelling story of love, loyalty and family overcoming greed and treachery, fro the author of the bestselling Curlew trilogy. For those with an interest in the jungle paradise of Papua New Guinea, both past and present, the story and characters will strike a chord.

Papua, by Peter Watt
Macmillan Australia, 2002