A young man stumbles his way to enlightenment in the wilds of the Australian outback.
Pilkington brings an active imagination and deft storytelling prowess to the story of Rex Rivington, an Australian bloke whose life is forever changed by the titular Four of Diamonds. This captivating epic features adventures both fantastic (the harsh rough-and-tumble existence of a young jackaroo) and mundane (the touching, life-long love affair between Rex and his steadfast wife, Athele). Rex, a young cowpoke from a blue-collar background, struggles to make his way through Australia in the early 1920s. Leaving his family’s homestead, the boy travels to New South Wales, where he earns his keep herding sheep in the desolate western range. Rex also gains new skills, among them the manly arts of shooting, bare-knuckle fighting and footballing. But as a result of a pair of savage accidents, he discovers a gift not for destruction but for healing. Rex enrolls in medical school but struggles to find the support necessary to finish his degree. His luck turns when he pulls a four of diamonds to fill a straight flush during a late-night poker game. Rex’s escapades parallel those of his brother Bruce, an itinerant journalist who sends home stories of Africa and Asia before being tapped as a war correspondent in the Pacific during World War II, a period that causes Rex the most grief as he loses the family members most dear to him. The author’s immensely likeable protagonist is a beloved and civilized man in a remarkably uncivil world, and this account of Rex’s uncommon life is elevated by marvelous yet familiar prose, reminiscent of the dry toughness of Louis L’Amour: â€œThese things come along and test our very soulsâ€¦And we just have to somewhere find the strength to take them on our chins, and move on.”
A refreshingly straightforward, stirring and unusual adventure.