Best known for her Thackery updates—a series set in Barsetshire—Thirkell (1890–1961) published this fascinating novel in 1934 under the androgynous nom de plume "Leslie Parker." Written in the voice of an Australian doctor, returning home after WWI, the raucous tale, a boon to students of slang, chronicles the ship ride back to Australia from England on a boat that includes not just families but murderers, dope fiend, thieves, a female impersonator, and (of course) a wise padre. This wild passage home, with horrible accommodations for most everyone, becomes something of a free-for-all, with the prisoners threatening control. What makes it all pass so breezily is the narrator's backslapping view of things: he's a proud Aussie philistine who grew up in the outback, and holds all the proper prejudices (about women, the British, the French). And the boat itself, taken from the defeated Germans, gives fresh meaning to the term "jerry-rigged." A riotous little gem rediscovered.