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19 February 2012

Peter Watt: Cry of the Curlew

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A brilliant start to Peter Watt's Frontier Series
This book is the start of the outstanding Australian Frontier Series by Peter Watt that follows the Macintosh and Duffy families from the mid 19th to the 20th Century.  The violent and barbaric dispersal of the Nerambura tribe (described in brutal detail in this book) is the start of an Aboriginal curse that affects the happiness of the Macintosh and Duffy families for generations. Through the lives of these families the book gives a great insight of life in Sydney in the mid 19th Century and the strength through hardship of the pioneers of early settlement in Far North Queensland.

I read this book when it was first published in 1999 and bought it again recently for my "Kindle classics collection". A couple of days ago I started to re-read the book and got hooked all over again. Peter has woven fact and fiction together to produce a rich tapestry of the times in Australia and a collection of wonderful characters - the good and the bad, the nasties and the really nasties. He shows a great knowledge and empathy for Aboriginals and how their nomadic way of life that was totally changed by the arrival of the first settlers.

Before re-reading this book I had just finished the 7th book in this great series - Beyond the Horizon - covering the families in 1918 and 1919. Wallerie, the old Aboriginal warrior and keeper of the curse still haunts the landscape wherever the Macintosh's and Duffy's are in the world. Kate Duffy (O'Keefe/Tracy), by then a successful rich and retired businesswoman, is still alive and plays a key part in maintaining the Duffy heritage for the future.

Peter Watt is one of my favourite Australian authors who mostly writes historical "faction" adventures set in Australia and Papua. I have read and enjoyed all of his books. On his website Peter describes his approach as "putting a human face" on the history of Australia and Papua. He has been described in many places as Australia's Wilbur Smith.

I would recommend all of Peter Watt's books in the Frontier Series. I suggest you start reading this book first - I am sure you will then be keen to read and enjoy the later books.

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