"In the 1830s, the penal settlement of Moreton Bay on the Brisbane River is under the command of Patrick Logan. His administration has been denounced by the liberal press of Sydney, but he scorns such criticism. How can it harm him when he had governed according to the rules?
"Flogged and brutalised, some convicts escape to the bush and take refuge with the Aborigines.
"Logan cannot continue to ignore the reaction to his harsh discipline after the arrival of his wife's younger sister, Frances. She cannot accept the brutality of chained and toiling men, punishment parades and the lash, and it is she who precipitates the crisis from which the final drama springs."
"An early Australian penal station under a fanatical disciplinarian...Anderson enters the period with the
certainty of a somnambulist." - The Observer
"No sketch of its plot can convey the subtlety of this moving novel...Anderson writes a lucid, decisive prose, the fruit of a sensitive but exceptionally clear mind." - Southerly
"The strength of this novel lies in its refusal to over-dramatise or over-tidy." - The Listener
'But Dunwich is only a depot. Don't judge us by a depot. Wait, my dear Miss O'Beirne, wait till we get to the settlement. Which with this wind -' Mrs Bulwer drew a hand from her muff and held it into the wind - 'will be some five hours more. It's quite a pretty little place, I assure you. And healthy besides. None of us has gone to our graveyard. Quite a contrast from the India stations. At least with Madras. I am sure that the rumour that the fifty-seventh is to go to Madras is quite unfounded. Agra. It will be Agra. Agra is delightful. Very little fever at Agra. On the settlement we do have the fever, but not the India sort, not the sort to carry one off. And we have the ophthalmia and the dysentery, though neither is so prevalent with us. But of course we have nothing so dreadful as the cholera. The cholera! Do you know how bad it was at home last year? Why, of course you do, you were there.'
Frances said, well, she had been in Ireland.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1988.
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Last modified: December 24, 2001.