The year is 1827, and in a remote hut on the high plains of New South Wales, two strangers spend the night in talk.
One, Carney, an illiterate Irishman, ex-convict and bushranger, is to be hanged at dawn.
The other, Adair, also Irish, is an officer of the police who has been sent to supervise the hanging.
As the night wears on, the two discover unexpected connections between their lives, and learn new truths.
Outside the hut, Adair's troopers sit uneasily, reflecting on their own pasts and futures, waiting for the morning to come.
With ironic humour and in prose of starkly evocative power, the novel moves between Australia and Ireland to explore questions of nature and justice, reason and un-reason, the workings of fate, and the small measure of freedom a man may claim in the face of death.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 272 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 05/06/1997
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099744016
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by dylanwolf
A book of the night. It is the night before a hanging in the mountains of West Australia. Two men are to spend the night occupying a bush hut, one is an outlaw, Daniel Carney, the remaining member of the Dolan gang set on fomenting trouble for the government. The other, is the novel's main protagonist Michael Adair, an officer in the regimental corps and, by order of the Governor of New South Wales, given the duty of overseeing the secret and swift hanging of this remaining rebel. The two men, both Irish, spend the night in conversation and fitful sleep. Both relate their disparate pasts in their shared homeland. And both explore and reveal the deeper meanings behind the paths they have taken in life.Malouf is a studied writer but one who I found perhaps a little too expository for my taste. Although this is a quiet book with a strong ending, I found some passages told me, rather than showed me, the depths of feeling and meaning that the novel set out to explore.
Review by pandammonia
I enjoyed this book quite a lot more toward the end. I thought the first half of the book just seemed to drag on with an overuse of adjectives in place of a storyline, and i was close to putting it away on numerous occasions. However, i persisted and am quite glad that i did, as it really redeemed itself toward the end.A quaint story about a convict and his overseer during the last night before his execution at dawn. It tells of the conversations and thoughts of both the men in the wee small hours. Gripping in parts but lacking depth in others.
Review by TheoClarke
Slow to start because I could find few points of engagement in the first chapter, the story then unfolded in a langourous nostalgic rumination on destiny and self-discovery as a soldier converses with his condemned prisoner through the night before the dawn execution. The convict is little more than a catalyst for the soldier's reminiscences of growing up in a Georgian Irish country house but there is an evocation of intimacy and human connection that raises this above the average.
Review by charl08
beautiful novel: love that a chance visit to #Oxfam books means I have discovered a new (to me) author.