The boy looked down from the sky. He looked down on Rick holding open the gate, and closing it while Goldie waited. He looked down on Rick walking ahead in the road, being nudged now and then by Goldie’s nose, but not turning. The hairs on the back of Rick’s neck were golden. Two crows were crying in the sky, and everything was asleep. The day, the summer, would never end. He would walk behind Rick, he would study Rick forever.
Six year old Rob Coram lives in Geraldton, Western Australia, far away from the war raging in Europe and the Pacific. But when his much-loved cousin, Rick, goes away to fight in that war, it suddenly becomes much more real and personal. As the war drags on, Rob longs for Rick to come home. When Rick, returns, though, he is different, and Rob struggles to maintain the closeness he once felt.
The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea provides a glimpse into family life in war-time Australia, and will especially evoke a sense of the familiar in Western Australian readers. It is also a coming-of-age novel, showing Rob’s growth through his childhood and into his teens, whilst his cousin, made a man in his desperate survival as a prisoner of war, seems to regress and to appear younger back in the world of his childhood.
With a cast of aging aunts and grandmothers, fathers and uncles who seem to play only small roles in Rob’s childhood, younger cousins and childhood friends, Rob’s life rolls through the six years of this tale, with childhood scenes of humour and adventure, interspersed with sadness and tension.
First published in 1965 and reprinted numerous times, The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea has now been rereleased as part of the popular Penguins series, allowing it be rediscovered by past fans and uncovered by a new generation of readers.
The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea , by Randolph Stow
This edition Penguin, 2009