THE BISCUIT-TIN FAMILY by Barbara Ker Wilson


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Through a glass, dimly: an antique dressing mirror and sepiaphotographs in a biscuit tin set Debbie to thinking about her forebears; they also spark an Australian family saga that never reaches Debbie either palpably or chronologically. Mostly it involves Celandine and Tansy and Sorrel Pratt as young emigrants during the 1850's gold rush and as the growing daughters of a prosperous, stuffy Melbourne merchant. Each makes a signal choice--Celandine settles into staid domesticity, Tansy opens an academy for young gentlewomen, Sorrel marries Pat O'Shaunnessey, to the dismay of her family and his; otherwise very little happens. There's a photographer, first met in the goldfields and long a family friend, who occasions considerable explanation of photographic aesthetics and techniques; he dies coveting the Civil War with Matthew Brady, no particular loss to the story. Interspersed are some of Debbie's insignificant doings but the two strands meet only accidentally--the dressing mirror breaks. So ends the story, and the unkindest cut is that you don't know what happened to the Pratts and you don't care.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1968
Publisher: World