A River Town
"In 1900 the beginning of a new century excites even the isolated riverside town of Kemspey in New South Wales, accessible from Syudney only by a long steamer trip. Here, too, the politics of the wider world and its epidemics still pursue the young Irish immigrant Tim Shea.
"Tim keeps a general store by the river and so supports his wife, the feisty Kitty, and their two children. Fortune, however, eludes him. All the while he is bedevilled by the face of a young dead woman whose head, preserved in a jar by the police, no one can or will identify.
"This is the tale of a reluctant hero, an endearing, if flawed, man whose stubborn integrity is nearly his undoing. Vividly conveying the spirit of the times, Tom Keneally's vibrant portrait of the river town of Kempsey manifests the inescapability of human malice in a place of natural splendour."
On a hot morning in the New Year, a black police wagon went rolling along Kempsey's Belgrave Street from the direction of West Kemspey. All of this in the valley of the Macleay on the lush and humid north coast of New South Wales. The wagon attracted a fair amount of notice from the passers-by and witnesses. Many shopowners and customers in fact came out onto the footpaths to watch this wagon be drawn by, and some of them waved mockingly at the dark, barred window of the thing. Tim Shea of T. Shea - General Store stayed behind his counter but looked out with as much fascination as anyone as the wagon passed, two constables on the driver's seat, and Fry the sergeant of police riding behind.
From the William Heinemann Australia hardcover edition, 1995.
This page and its contents are copyright © 1998-2005 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Thomas Keneally page.
Last modified: October 18, 2005.