In this evocative novel of family and society we are drawn back in time to a dusty country town in rural Australia where life seems to have travelled along on the same trajectory for many years, little changing in the township or peoples attitudes.
After twenty years absence and as a man with his own young family, Patrick (Pat) McNally returns to the town where he grew up to sell up the family home ‘Kilkenny’, after his father’s death.
He spends a little time on the old veranda cradling a shoebox full of his father’s treasures and reflects back on his younger life, moving away from Sydney when he and his twin brother Doug, with their father, moved there to help their grandmother after their beloved ‘Poppie’ died.
How they settle into their new home routine, different to the holidays they had spent there, coping with the new school and getting to know the town’s people and their neighbours better, creates a setting, a lifestyle, that has long since gone from Australian society.
As the boys and their father settle into their new life it becomes more and more apparent there is discrimination in the town towards the aboriginal peoples who live in a ‘reservation’ on the outskirts of the town; a discrimination based on unfounded fear and lack of understanding of a different culture.
The boys befriend a young aboriginal boy Johnny, learning there really is very little difference in people, just the way they live and their prejudices. As the first years role along the boys live in what they consider a great place; life was pretty good.
It is not until tragedy strikes the township the boys get a horrifying understanding of what hatred and violence can do, and the dreadful consequences.
Each page turned creates a time when life was so much less complex; you can smell the dust of the dry country town in the summer as they wait for rain, the rivalry of the ladies of the CWA, the support of the town when things go terribly wrong. Those of you attended the Catholic education system will be able to relate to the tough policies of the ‘sisters’, as they drilled education into unwilling minds.
Beautifully written, the storyline tackles the subject of discrimination and intolerance in a manner that is as telling as it is true, making this a story on several levels. The first to entertain, the second to understand and the third, the bonds of family and basic human decency as Patrick (Pat) faces up to the real challenge of what he wants in life and where he wants to be as a Doctor; in a city practice or back in the town he loved as a child, following on in his father’s footsteps.
|Publisher||Short Stop Press|