In the remote outback of North-West Australia, English anthropologist Nicholas Keene and his wife Stella raise a curious child, Perdita. Her upbringing is far from ordinary : a shack in the wilderness, with a distant father burying himself in books and an unstable mother whose knowledge of Shakespeare forms the backbone of the girl's limited education. Emotionally adrift, Perdita develops a friendship with an Aboriginal girl, Mary, with whom she will share a very special bond. She appears content with her unusual family life in this remote corner of the globe until Nicholas Keene is discovered murdered.
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Gail Jones teaches literature, cinema and cultural studies at the University of Western Australia.From Publishers Weekly:
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)
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