A coming of age story in north Queensland in the 1910's, Jamie is brought up by his saintly grandmother, advised by an eccentric and drunken intellectual, and deflowered by his French teacher. Themes of Australian independence from the British Empire and the dignity of Indigenous culture emerge from the narrative. Ultimately, his grandmother and his professor die, his French teacher is transferred to another school, and his mango tree - his vantage point for looking out upon the world - ceases to bear fruit. Jamie, safe from the war that has just ended and the influenza that swept his town, thrusts himself upon the world by travelling south at the end of the story.
Winner Miles Franklin Award 1975.