The title and the art work on the cover of this book suggest a Western story, dark and foreboding: it is not. While Snake Island is firmly set in Australia, at Pt Napier, the story is indeed dealing with the darker side of human nature. Each chapter looks at another male member of a small country community. The stories that gradually unfold, intertwining families and explaining relationships are weighed down by poverty and loss of hope.
Bullying is rife in homes, in schools, and later in relationships. In jail for hitting his wife, Caleb is being regularly beaten up by one of the local lads. Brendan is allowed into the jail by the Governor, whose only request is that the beating isn’t too obvious. Caleb’s father hasn’t seen him since he’s been in jail, but the local priest suggests that because Caleb made a mistake, he can still make amends.
Horrified to find out that his son is regularly beaten, Caleb’s father decides to visit Brendan’s father and ask man to man, that Ernie stop his son from beating Caleb. Meanwhile, to supplement his failing farming income, Ernie is growing and selling Marijuana. It is only a matter of time before something goes wrong with this situation and we watch his plans come to nothing.
There is little lightness in this book. The love the country fathers have for their children is evident, but they all choose to parent as they have been, so the reader can assume that not a lot will change in the next generation. The character development is intense, as each chapter looks at one particular person and delves into their thoughts and reasonings.
|Publisher||Allen and Unwin|
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|