Wednesday, August 11, 2010

21. PROMISED LANDS - Jane Rogers

A novel meticulous in its research about the colonization of Sydney with convicts and their military watchers, including William Dawes, included with the Royal Navy to provide information on the upcoming Halley's comet. Instead, he becomes the primary engineer in building the colony with little wood and a lot of resistance.

Meanwhile, this is a story within a story. The author, Stephen, is writing this book, and jars the reader out of the lovely bubble of early Australia with his notes. It's similar to reading an author's manuscript. At the same time, there are long, strange chapters of his wife, Olla's, thoughts - of Stephen, of their new son (born with cerebral palsy), and of her own delusional beliefs.

Two points of view are interesting: William Dawes and Olla's. They are also parallel. What do you do when you have faith, but those around you do not see your vision? Stephen, however, seems to be the mosquito that finds you after you turn off the lights, whining and buzzing. It's too bad that we couldn't simply find out about him through his novel and Olla's POV.

It's an odd book, and in some ways, I would have preferred to simply read about the convict camp in Australia. However, the author's comparisons and contrasts are brilliant. If you have read it, I'd love to see your opinion about the ending... in the comments, of course.

3.25 out of 5.0 Kangaroos.

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