For the first time since her bestseller The Thorn Birds captivated millions of readers, Colleen McCullough returns to Australia with a breathtaking new historical saga
Colleen McCullough was born in Australia. A neurophysicist, she established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney, then worked as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. Her writing career began with the publication of Tim, followed by The Thorn Birds, a record-breaking international bestseller. The author of a number of other novels, McCullough has also written lyrics for musical theatre. She lives on Norfolk Island in the Pacific with her husband, Ric Robinson.
In her bloated and, sad to say, boring new book, McCullough (Caesar: Let the Dice Fly) turns her usually fine historical eye to the Pacific Ocean and the founding of Australia in the late 18th century. Richard Morgan, son of a Bristol tavern keeper, is found guilty of a crime he did not commit and becomes one of the first convicts sent to New South Wales. Having suffered a number of personal tragedies, notably the disappearance and presumed death of his beloved son, he is stoical in the face of the long sea voyage and the uncertain fate awaiting him. Rising superbly (and improbably) to every hardship and horror, Richard gains the respect of his fellow convicts and British captors. He serves out his seven-year sentence, becomes a free man, falls in love, marries, and becomes a father again. The major weakness of the novel is Richard, who never seems real; his transformation from wimpy son to a leader of men is unconvincing. Despite the inherently interesting plot, the reader is inundated by so many names, events, and details that the mind whirls and interest in finishing the book flags. Demand will likely be high for McCullough, however, so purchase accordingly. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/00.]Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"A rich compelling epic" * Daily Mail *
"A good yarn... based on rigorous historical research" * Belfast Telegraph *
HMcCullough's narrative skills are fully displayed in this intricately researched, passionate epic of 18th-century England's colonization of Australia, in which an upright Bristol tavernkeeper, Richard Morgan, becomes one of the first British convicts to be sent to the rugged new prison colony of Botany Bay. It is not enough that Morgan is struggling with grief, having lost his wife and two children in three separate tragedies. He discovers that his employer is scamming the government of excise taxes, but when he reports the fraud, he becomes the target of the distiller's revenge. Framed for robbery and extortion, he is arrested and thrown into prisonDa hellish pit of overcrowding, disease and filthDthen convicted and sentenced to seven years transportation on the infamous slaver ships bound for Australia; the success of the American Revolution has closed the New World to England's unwanted population. During the horrific sea journey, Morgan becomes a leader among the men, protecting handsome Fourth Mate Stephen Donovan (called a Miss Molly by the crew), and forging a friendship that will last a lifetime. Once in Port Jackson (later Sydney), Morgan becomes indispensable as a skilled worker and master gunsmith. He is soon moved to spectacular Norfolk Island, where there is fertile soil, food aplenty and happiness in love. Summoning the intimate acquaintance with her native Australian landscape familiar to readers of The Thorn Birds, and the mastery of meticulous detail that distinguishes her series on Roman history (Caesar, etc.), McCullough blends local color, extraordinary characters, ethnic tensions (between Irish, Scots, Welsh and Englishmen), grand descriptive passages and even seamen's thick dialects into a complex, consistently entertaining narrative. The strength and resilience of her unforgettable hero makes this animated tale one of McCullough's best to date. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.