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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Peter Watt - Cry of the Curlew.

review by showhost
This is the first part of a trilogy.  A friend lent it to me as they thought I would enjoy it & I have.  It reminded me of the early settlers in the 'wild west' but very much of the Wilbur Smith novels about the Courtneys and especially his more recent 'Courtney' novels (ie Blue Horizon) except where Wilbur Smiths' 'Courtney' novels were based in South Africa, Peter Watts' novel is based in Australia (what is now Queensland & New South Wales).  So for me, Peter Watt is the Wilbur Smith of Australia.
In 1862 the wealthy landowning Macintosh family & the Irish, cattle-driving, Duffy family become and remain enemies after the Macintosh family order the dispersal/clearance of the Aborigine tribe from their land in a savage, brutal way and often torturing prior to death - including women & children.  These atrocities are carried out by the mounted police and soldiers, quite a few of whom are indigenous.
On one such clearance Patrick Duffy, his son Tom and his long time friend harbour one of the natives.  Patrick Duffy & friend are murdered by Capt Mort one of the mounted police.  Tom escapes by pure luck.  The murder is blamed on the natives but others who witnessed the murder start to talk quietly - however there is no proof.
The Duffys' pledge revenge on the Macintosh clan and especially the murderous, sadistic, 'Captain Mort'.  The Duffys become a thorn in the Macintosh familys' side and they invent ways to get rid of them.
We have the Romeo Juliet type of mix in the story daughter or one family falls in love with a son of the other etc.  and the marriages of convenience for the sake of the family (forsaking their true love).
It's a rough and savage land with prospectors from all over the world trying their luck to find gold.  The settlers carving a living, claiming the land from the Aboriginal tribes, growing cotton & other commodities, bringing in slave labour from the Pacific Islands to work the land.  But the brutality with which they do this and the contempt for life makes it a page turning read.
Yes we can guess what is going to happen quite often in the story especially where the love interests exist but I will be looking forward to reading the next two books in this trilogy.    Quote from Amazon: 'compelling epic of the all-consuming cycle of love, death, violence and revenge which overtake the two feuding families as they attempt to tame the wilds of Northern Australia. It establishes Peter Watt as an exceptional new storytelling talent'.   
 I agree.  But I must mention one thought I always have when reading these epic sagas -
everyone (Irish, German, American) hated the English & it makes me feel ashamed to be English and I want to shout "BUT IT WASN'T MY FAULT I wasn't there"!

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