From the winner of the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2013 Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award comes Lucy Treloar's new novel.
Some things collapse slow and cannot always be rebuilt, and even if a thing can be remade it will never be as it was.
In 1855 Salt Creek lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including 15-year-old Hester Finch. Once wealthy political activists, the Finch family has fallen on hard times. Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can, with the few travellers who pass along the nearby stock route - among them a young artist, Charles - and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed.
Over the years that pass, an Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family. Stanton's attempts to tame the harsh landscape bring ruin to the Ngarrindjeri people's homes and livelihoods and unleash a chain of events that will tear the family asunder. As Hester witnesses the destruction of the Ngarrindjeri's subtle culture and the ideals that her family once held so close, she begins to wonder what civilization is. Was it for this life and this world that she was educated?
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The hook, the interest, the desire, the action
That the author invited me to share the experience of the family. I felt I was there even at their grim Sunday worship sessions, the slaughtering of a calf, the mending of clothes. I did resent the time away from listening to this challenging novel. I didn't want to put it down - or switch it off.
Mrs Finch meeting Mrs Robinson at Traveller's Rest.
Seldom have I cried for joy at the end of a novel. I've listened three times to Geraldine Brooks People of the Book and each time at the end tears come freely. Tears came once again freely and without shame on my part. I even listened to every acknowledgement. What a novel, what a reader, what a story, what an exploration of human relationships and what an ending. An extraordinary novel.