The Country Without Music
"The bone flute she wore at her neck.
"He touched the crescent-shaped curio. 'You are Ilois,' he siad. It was the first time she had ever heard him use the word. 'You are Ilois.'
"The islands once known as the strangest penal colonies on earth are now seething with discontent; and Jacqueline Villiers, caught at the centre of the turmoil, is torn between her uncle's determiation to stay in power and the attraction of her Ilios friends.
"Who was the adminstrator's neice? And what was the significance of the bone flute?
"In his compelling new novel, Nicholas Hasluck reveals how half-truths and deceptions can lead to a country bedevilled by its past - a country without music."
My uncle used to play a game with important people from the mainland. After they had finished their business, he took them for a drive around the island and the last stop on the tour was always a visit to the old gaol. 'This may be of interest to you,' he would say, as though the thought had just popped into his head. He brought the car to a halt by touching the driver's sleeve, the same finger pointing to a thicket of flax plants and pampas grass.
The site forms part of a housing estate for the Ilois now, but at that time, a season when I was still supposed to be my uncle's dutiful niece, a fresh young face to brighten up the touring party (which is what he always said when he dragged me along to meet the visitors), the gaol was little more than a dead end near the bus depot - ruins dismembered by trees and vines and tropical undergrowth. The roofless cell-blocks looked like the last place on earth to be of interest to anyone. Tant pis! But appearances didn't matter much at that stage of the game, I suppose, since it was almost impossible to pick out what exactly my uncle was pointing at.
From the Viking paperback edition, 1990.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Frankln Award in 1991.
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Last modified: December 1, 2001.