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28 September 2013

Peter Watt: War Clouds Gather

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Peter Watt - master storyteller
This is another great episode in Peter Watt's epic Frontier series saga about the Macintosh and Duffy families and confirms his place as one of Australia's best storytellers. Once I had started this book it was hard to put it down and would have liked it to be longer.

This time the saga covers the era just prior to WWII, from the Berlin Olympics to the start of the war (almost akin to the period covered by the classic Herman Wouk novel "The Winds of War"). Although this is a story of two Australian families, most of the action this time is overseas, from Hitler dominated Berlin, to Dachau and the Spanish Civil War; and from Iraq, to Israel and the US. The focus turns back to Australia at the declaration of the war.

My main critique is that, despite having read all books in the series I still needed to refresh my memory about the background to the complex history of the characters. It would have been very useful to have a "Who's Who" introduction to each major character. So here is something about the background to the next generation of Macintoshes and Duffys that Watt introduces in this book who will undoubtedly be the focus of the next book about WWII.

On the Duffy side twins James and Olivia have been raised in the US by their mega-rich maternal grandfather, with no contact with their father Matthew Duffy. James is keen to meet his father who runs an air freight business in the Middle East but Olivia is still hurt by her father's apparent abandonment.

Donald and Sarah Macintosh have been raised by their unscrupulous father, Sir George Macintosh, after he forced their mother to leave them in his care. Donald is a disappointment to his father as  he becomes a playboy and gambler. He will inherit a third of the Macintosh business when he turns 21, as will David Macintosh, who paradoxically has been raised by Sean Duffy.

George is prepared to take extreme measures through his German contacts to prevent his nephew David from taking a seat on the Board. Meanwhile, he sends Donald to the family station Glen View in Northern Queensland in an effort to change his ways. In North Queensland George meets part-aboriginal cattle station owner Tom Duffy and his daughter Rebecca. Close by Glen View the spirit of the mythical elderly Aboriginal warrior Wallarie still communicates with the grief of his ancestors at their massacre by the Macintoshes fifty years before.

This is very much a transitional novel bringing in the new generation of Duffy's and Macintoshes and along the way they experience pain, tragedy, excitement, love and loss bringing some closer together and others further apart. There are some interesting changes ahead in the Macintosh boardroom as well as unexpected changes in allegiances. As an addict of the Frontier Series I look forward to what happens next.

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