by Maxwell Grant ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 29, 1981
This heart-plucking, barrel-chested, hard-riding oater from Down Under--about stout-souled men of the Australian Outback from 1896 to today's end of the Last Frontier--is the kind of saga in which ""land"" calls forth a number of trembly serenades (""the bush, the land, the precious bloody thing men loved like a mystic mistress. . .""). In 1896 Beth's foolish young husband dies in pursuit of land, so she marries bear-like James (""Mac"") Carlyon, the Overlander King (""He loved the dust and the mob and the crack of the stockwhip a mile long and the hard high sun. . . ""). Beth bears Mac three sons: James (""Red""), Grant's primary hero; Billy, who will die young; and scholarly Douglas. When Mac loses out to money and government men and withers away, it's Red who will raise the acreage from ten to 3/4-million, and--with his pearling ventures, cattle, and investment in the early Qantas--he'll become a millionaire. Along the way, however, there will be horrible desert treks, the avenging of two deaths, and service in two wars, along with acquisition of life-long friends (both Abe and white)--and love. Red's first girl marries another, but in his solid, post-WW II middle age, Dr. Anne Brown will love him and bear him a daughter, Alison. (She won't marry him, however, because of her career and--after a near-fatal stumble through the desert--her antipathy for the Land.) Eventually, of course, Red's holdings are threatened--as is his own beloved, private Shangri La, a lovely stretch of rock and gorge inhabited by an ancient, huge crocodile named Kismet, who represents a continuity of land and people. And finally, with the connivance of Douglas (always resentful of Red), outsiders close in: Americans come uranium-hunting; hunters come after crocodiles; Kismet is given the coup de grÃ ce by the man who loves him; and Red, though happy with his feisty daughter and their extended family, celebrates Christmas by putting on his old Light Horse infantry hat and flying off in his plane to meet ""the real wind, the true wind, just as the land ends."" With the author's truly exhaustive knowledge of Death Tracks, the Wets and the Drys, great horses, strong men, and Outback palaver--a manly weeper, old-style and immensely likable.
Pub Date: April 29, 1981
Page Count: -
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981
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