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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Love down-under: wartime Darwin in the 40's

Flight of the Jabiru by Elizabeth Haran

Super briefly, this is the story of Lara Penrose sentenced to the far north of Australia on a trumped up charge by the English courts in 1941. She is to serve as a school teacher on a remote settlement near the mouth of the Mary River 
I was a tad conflicted about this novel. Haran has certainly done her research about the Top End and Darwin during the Japanese raids in WW2. Her word paintings of the astounding scenery and areas around the billabongs are brilliant, the crocodile threat is all too scary, and the 'stolen generation' representations are well crafted. Everything that is Australian in the Top End gets a mentiokn. Even 'transportation to the colonies' raises its head--which was over by now, so the whole legal pressure brought to bear on Lara Penrose, a feisty English miss and elementary school teacher, was obviously a powerful whitewash by those in a position to do so.
I know that derogatory terms were used for the Japanese and Aboriginals during this historical time--indeed in many instances until the end of the eighties and nineties, and sadly within some groups, today. As this is written in 2015, I would have liked a way through to not using offensive terms. I know Darwin was really a rough pioneer town. (If you want any more visual images, you probably can't go past Nicole Kidman in the movie 'Australia.' ) So certainly applause for the vividness of the era and the area. The beer drinking Aussies, the g'days and the casualness. Look, it all gets a mention including attitudes towards women, childbirth, education, aboriginals, conservation, and as noted earlier, stolen children.
Pick an issue, it's buried here somewhere.
So much happened to Lara that I was exhausted by the end. That trek she does is bizarre and yet we accept it because of her desperateness. No-one in their right mind would do it--which Lara obviously wasn't. I wanted to see how things would end, but oh my goodness, talk about a saga of happenings. Is this a story of reality gone wrong, reality beyond belief, or a drawn out yarn? I'm still out on this but will continue reading Haran's work.
Add to this an interesting love triangle and wow!
Certainly for pure storyline it's a 5. However I still have too many questions.

A NetGalley ARC


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