RIVER OF THE SUN by Patricia Shaw


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Rich, compelling adventures set during the Australian Gold Rush in the late 1800's. When Darcy Buchanan, a member of Australia's elite ""squattocracy,"" dies, leaving his half of Caravale station--a cattle ranch--to his fiancee, Perfection Middleton, ""Perry"" leaves the civilized comfort of Brisbane and heads north to deal with her legacy. Accompanying Perry is Diamond, a nervy, educated black who lives with ""a foot in both worlds"" and who's in search of her true home, from which she was taken as a child. Lew Cavour, the sea captain in love with Perry, longs for home too, an England he's never seen, ""that green and verdant land, a lawful, gentle country."" The lives of the three will collide in a changing--and increasingly lawless--Australia, once a disreputable continent of penal colonies, now made more attractive by the discovery of gold. ""Spurred on by the all-consuming competition for gold,"" European and Chinese diggers rage through the country as if it were uninhabited, heading toward the ""mother lode,"" the Palmer River; brimming with gold, it inspires greed, madness, and violence, feeding an addiction ""worse...than liquor or gambling."" Here, it's ""every man for himself"": the one who profits is the one who stays alive and walks past ""the emaciated bodies of men who had starved to death...bags laden with gold still bound to the corpses."" But the real victims are the ""blackfellers"": the ""tame"" Aborigines who live in desperation in slums on their own land and those who die fighting for what is theirs. Well-balanced, unsentimental, vivid portrayal of the taming of Australia's Wild West.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: St. Martin's