Fiction Greg Matthews The Wisdom of Stones

ISBN 13: 9780060177386

The Wisdom of Stones

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9780060177386: The Wisdom of Stones

Three very different characters--Clive Bagnall, a young Englishman; his cousin, Valerie; and Doug Farrands, a likeable roughneck--discover the true value of life, in a novel set against the frontier backdrop of Australia's Northern Territory in the late 1930s.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A seventh, satisfying novel from Matthews (Power in the Blood, 1993) takes him back to his native Australia, where he traces the destinies of an unlikely trio that survives the rigors of the bush and the upheavals of World War II. The story begins in 1939 when a young Englishman, Clive Bagnall, arrives in Darwin to claim an inheritance. Redlands is not the thriving cattle ranch of Clive's imagination, but a tin shed on acres of acid red earth, sand palms, and gum trees. Bagnall is convinced his dead uncle has played him a dirty trick and turns to the local Crocodile Dundee, Doug Farrands, for help. They are joined at Redlands by Clive's pretty cousin Val, but soon the m‚nage ... trois is disrupted by storm clouds in Europe. Clive enlists to fight Hitler, and Doug enlists when Japanese bombers batter Darwin. There follows a series of military adventures and outrageous coincidences in the southwestern Pacific. Clive and Doug are reunited on Dombi island, a Japanese prison camp, and meet their former pearl-diving friend Ishi aboard a POW ship. A submarine attack provides the mechanism for their escape, whereupon they sail 600 miles by dead reckoning in a lifeboat straight back to Darwin. Val, meanwhile, has been fatefully drawn into the ritual world of aborigines, who worship sacred stones and a man-eating crocodile. Matthews's aborigines are of the ``noble savage'' variety; in fact, only his three protagonists are fully drawn. While Matthews's characters tend towards stereotypes, his plots are highly entertaining and his portraits of the Northern Territory evoke the harshness of that hardscrabble land. -- Copyright 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Leaden dialogue and awkward narration are the weak spots of this otherwise appealing story of three Australians living through WW II. In the mid-1930s, Clive Bagnall, an English schoolteacher, steams into Darwin to claim an inherited estate in the scrub and savannah of Australia's Northern Territory. There he meets Doug Farrands, a local who, in exchange for Clive's hospitality, takes Clive under his wing and reveals to him that the true cause of his uncle's death was suicide, not a hunting accident. After shipping out on a pearl-diving rig, Clive and Doug return to meet Val, Clive's cousin, the illegitimate daughter of his suicidal uncle, with whom Doug falls in love. Doug and Val marry and have children, Val determined to make a go of cattle ranching at the homestead after Clive enlists for the war. Eventually Doug ships out too, and the old friends are reunited in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp situated atop a Malaysian bauxite mine. There, faced with questions of loyalty to friend and nation, Doug and Clive must decide on their own feelings about England, Australia and each other. Tinged with the mystery of aboriginal superstitions and the vast wonder of the Australian continent, this sprawling novel engages in spite of its flaws. $20,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Matthews, Greg
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