"1915 means Gallipoli, the birth of the Anzac myth - the year when Australians and New Zealanders sailed off in high hopes of adventure, only to find themselves faced with disaster.
"The tragedy and violence of that event provide the climax to this very personal, sensitive, and surprisingly romantic story. With remarkable skill Roger McDonald invites you to follow a typically Australian journey which parallels the nation's progress from its country childhood, through the adolescent exuberance of its young cities, to initiation on one of the world's ancient battlefields. It is a vital journey, haunted by meance and disillusionment.
"The novel is about two boys from the bush, the thoughtful and awkward Walter and his knowing friend Billy Mackenzie, and their girls Frances and Diana. Together they discover a future which seems full of promise, drawing them into the exciting turmoil of passion and war. But theirs is a fateful alliance, in a world too quickly passing, with an outcome they could never have foreseen."
"A first novel of astonishing maturity." - Maurice Dunlevy, Canberra Times
"The book is impressive, with a subtle understanding of human motives and a clear eye on human savagery." - Rodney Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
"It is a difficult to think of another novel that conveys with such disturbing immediacy the smells, tastes, sensations of this war." - Brian Kiernan, Age
It was inconceivable to Walter that a person could be well educated yet orally bad. But in the district hospital he met a woman who was said to be both, a governess from a station on the Condobolin line. People said she had tried to drown herself in a dam.
"The doctor says I need a rest," she told Walter. "I went for a swim and got into trouble. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
"Cripes no, Miss Davis."
She sat on the end of his bed while he avoided her eye. She discovered his enthusiasm for geology, and for half a day talked of nothing else.
From the UQP hardback edition, 1979.
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Last modified: July 15, 2001.