This is a story that can only be told in a whisper ...
Gail Jones lives in Sydney and teaches at the University of Western Sydney. Her books have won numerous literary awards in Australia. She is the author of two collections of short stories and five novels including Sixty Lights which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Dreams of Speaking which was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Orange Prize, and Sorry which was longlisted for the Orange Prize.
This is a courageously uncompromising and beautifully crafted novel about a failed marriage and a young child trying to survive it. The story is set in the desolate Australian outback during the tumultuous war years of the 1930s and 1940s. The father, Nicholas, is a bully who has moved his young bride and daughter from their home in England to this remote location halfway around the world so that he can pursue his research into aboriginal cultures. Both the desolation of the outback and the silence and cruelty in this marriage take a tragic toll on Nicholas's wife, Stella, who slowly spirals into dementia. Perdita is the young daughter who bears witness to this tragedy. Jones has a distinctive narrative voice--lyrical, graceful, densely vibrant with detail and image--and has much to say here about selfishness, cruelty, and simple human kindness. The moments of kindness Perdita experiences are rare and fleeting, but they arise out of the squalor of her life like revelations. A harrowing and important novel; enthusiastically recommended. [Australian novelist Jones's Dreams of Speaking has been short-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2008.--Ed.]--Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
The resilient daughter of a doomed, loveless couple narrates the luminous third novel from Australian Jones (Sixty Lights). Perdita Keene recalls her childhood as the Australian-born daughter of a British anthropologist and his wife, who come to the outback in 1930 for Perdita's WWI-veteran father Nicholas's fieldwork. Perdita is unwanted, and her mother, Stella, withdraws. Nicholas forces himself sexually on the local Aboriginal women. Among his victims is an orphaned teenager, Mary, who is brought from the local convent to take care of Perdita when Stella is hospitalized. Mary and Perdita develop a close, sisterly relationship as Mary teaches Perdita indigenous wisdom that is a far cry from what Stella and her beloved Shakespeare impart. Nicholas's violence precipitates a tragedy, and the expiation of Perdita's long-held guilt, for her father's crimes among other things, edifies this beautifully composed work. (June) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.