Reprint: Rolf Boldrewood's New Book

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A little studious mystification is practised by "Rolf Boldrewood" in his latest work. "My Run Home" may be either fiction or a scrap of biography, and the reader, on first taking the book in hand inclines to the latter supposition. It is rather wickedly fostered by the author in many ingenious ways. No word of preface, no suggestion of a date, rewards the inquisitive searcher, although the hero of the personally-related   narrative is "Rolf Boldrewood" himself. But we presently conclude, from internal evidence, that the novelist is at his recognised craft, and has determined to clothe with all the vraisemblance he can a breezy tale of the impressions and experiences of a young Australian on his first visit to the motherland. As for dates -- if a fiction writer need be worried about such details -- we must certainly cast back awhile for the   period of the narrative. Cremorne is still in full swing, and the hero, shoulder to shoulder with other stalwart Australians, enjoys the excitement of fighting his way out of that place of entertainment, vanquishing the assembled representatives of British rowdyism. It is but legitimate patriotism in an Australian writer to see that things go prosperously for the Australian abroad. At one page also the redoubtable Tom Sayers appears, to vanish again too soon, which sets the reader wondering whether the hero of Farnham fight really did live to see the steamships Massilia and Kaiser-i-Hind afloat. But such chronological queries are of small moment beside the fact that Rolf Boldrewood tells his tale with a light-hearted freshness and vigour which make him easy and pleasant reading. There used to be no one like Captain Marryat or Charles Lever for clearing the hedges and ditches of a story, and Rolf Boldrewood, who has a sure seat and steady bridle hand, sets himself to emulate their straight-going. His narrative progresses at a gallop, without pause or check, and with little of the descriptive work which often becomes a tedious conventionality. The equestrian simile is specially apt in this case, because the book is liberally studded with rough-riding feats and stirring episodes in the hunting-field -- subjects upon which the author writes as one who knows. The story of how the Australian hero proves his horsemanship upon "The Pirate" is related with some graphic touches, and as amplitude of workmanlike detail. Equally spirited is the narrative of Rolf Boldrewood's run with the Galway hounds, for the scene shifts appropriately to Ireland, the Elysium of dare-devil riders. A thread of love interest is interwoven with these adventures, but it does not command chief attention. The story of how Rolf Boldrewood escaped from the toils of the mercenary Isidora, and wedded open-hearted "Cousin Gwen" instead, is of subsidiary interest to the pictures of sporting life. The book, which is a recent addition to Macmillan's "Colonial Library," reaches us through Messrs George Robertson and Sons.

First published in The Argus, 24 July 1897

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 8, 2012 7:16 AM.

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