Published by Fourth Estate- Random House
Source - Bought book for Book Club (Fuller's Book Shop)
This is only the second book I have read by Christopher Koch, the first having been Doubleman which I really enjoyed last year. It too was a selection for our Fuller's Book Shop group read.
When this book was announced as our August read I wasn't sure what to expect. However it has turned out to be the best read I've encountered this year if not for quite some time.
The narrator through most of the book is a young man named Hugh Dixon. He lives in a hard working family but when his father takes on a large gambling debt Hugh believes he can get help from his estranged great-Uncle Walter.
Great Uncle Walter is a distinguished Hobart lawyer that Hugh knows little about. Gathering up his courage he visits his uncle's lovely home of privilege and from there an interesting family history ensues.
I don't want to give too much away in this book because there is so much that happens through out this book that I think any reader of it should uncover all of it for him/herself.
It takes place in southern Tasmania and much of the historical information is based on real fact. There is an exciting convict escape from Port Arthur, bushrangers of the pillaging and robbing type of the late 1800's. A family history that is both fascinating.
Then there is the young Hugh himself as we follow him through out his life. The story is told in flashbacks as Hugh is in his 70's at the time he is recalling his history.
I found the story absolutely fascinating especially as I recognised many of the places Mr. Koch writes about. I found it fascinating to imagine the bushrangers in the area I now so freely ride my motorbike through and although Tasmanians who grew up or lived in this area would find a special connection to the locale I think anyone who loves stories about art, education, settlement of a wild land, history, memoir, romance and friendship would get a great deal of enjoyment from this book.
There were so many themes ranging throughout the 100 year old history. There were moral dilemmas, ramifications of violence and never very far from the surface is always the absolute consequences of actions completed without fail. Friendship turns to betrayal. Besides all of the day to day actions occurring is also the ongoing interest Hugh and his great uncle share in the Art World. This is a very enjoyable aspect of the entire story from start to finish. I loved Hugh. He is a great character, full of integrity who leads a life that made me want to know more about everything he did in his life. I genuinely loved the characters in this book. The good guys are good and the bad guys are awful. There is violence in this story related to the historical settlements of TAsmania in the 1800's but they are in context and makes one appreciate it was in trying to tame a wild land.
I could definitely enjoy reading this book a second time and highly recommend it. Would love to know what others think of it.
Our book club discusses this book on Monday evening and I will report back as to what turns up in that discussion. I am really looking forward to it. Also by the beginning of the week I should have some Library Loot to post up as well as maybe a little book trivia gleaned from my most recent Good Reading magazine that came in the mail the other day. More on that later.
|Source National Library of Australia|