A Treacherous Country 

Reviewed By  Grasshopper2       June 7, 2020


Author  K.M. Kruimink

Distributor:       Booktopia/Amazon 
ISBN:                 9781760877408
Publisher:         Allen and Unwin
Release Date:   April 2020  

Website:    https://www.allenandunwin.com 

Australian/Vogel Literary Award Winner 2020 (AU) for an unpublished manuscript A Treacherous Country from KM Kruimink, is set in the 1840’s and moves from England to Van Diemen’s Land. Gabriele is the youngest son of a Baron, with no expectations and not much experience of the world, fancies himself in love with a neighboring lass.

On approaching her chaperone to ask for the hand of Susannah, Gabriele is given a task to complete before he can be considered an eligible suitor. The young man’s task is to go to Van Diemen’s Land to find a woman who was transported there ten years before. He is carrying a letter and money to give to the woman.

The story presented here is unusual and filled with many side issues with one such relating to his mother in a time before he sets off on what is to become the biggest adventure of his life to date: Gabriele’s Mother has spoken out against her husband at a dinner party. It therefore follows that she must be hysterical or mad and she is locked in the attic by her husband. Even though Gabriele and his brothers feel this is unjust, they do nothing to support their Mother.

Beginning when Gabriele has arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in an attempt to find the whereabouts of Maryanne Maginn, we follow his journey and his naïve dealings with the local people. The descriptions of the convicts, chained and working under cruel supervision, is quite a contrast from the conduct of the softly spoken English gentleman.

There are many fascinating flash backs as Gabriele rides his horse and ponders the fate of his Mother, as well of the face of his loved one in England. Eventually Gabriele finds a suitable solution for his task, but not before he has joined in a whale hunt and slept in a whaling station.

The language and descriptions used by the author are marvelous. “There was an intimate extravagance in the pink and gold of the sunrise, unrolling its glow over the sea horizon, and melting into a day as bright and cold as a diamond.” The dialogue between the characters is appropriate for the times and their social standing, and the combined aspects of the story make it quite a pleasure to read.