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A River Town by Thomas Keneally

A River Town (edition 1995)

by Thomas Keneally

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155377,049 (3.62)10
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Tim Shea has left Ireland for Australia at the turn of the Century to escape the strict social confines of that country. However in Australia he runs into questions about his loyalty to the Empire, the reason behind his acts of kindness and his concern for a murdered young woman whose identity has not been discovered which leads to harassment from the local constable.

When he is the only man in town when a local farmer is critically injured and is honoured as a hero for helping the man's children, he becomes the focus of attention of those who dislike the Irish. The town leaders delay paying their bills and damage his reputation with his suppliers. The farmer's girl he helped becomes a problem for him and eventually commits suicide while with his family.

There is as well the East Indian paddler who becomes his friend and savior and provides some of the humour in the story. Keneally based some of the novel on his grandfather's experiences. ( )
  lamour | Jul 27, 2015 |
This is the tale of a reluctant hero, an endearing, if flawed, man whose stubborn integrity is nearly his undoing. Vividly conveying the spirit of the times, Tom Keneally's vibrant portrait of the river town of Kempsey manifests the inescapability of human malice in a place of natural splendour.

(first paragraph below;)
"On a hot morning in the New Year, a black police wagon went rolling along Kempsey's Belgrave Street from the direction of West Kemspey. All of this in the valley of the Macleay on the lush and humid north coast of New South Wales. The wagon attracted a fair amount of notice from the passers-by and witnesses. Many shopowners and customers in fact came out onto the footpaths to watch this wagon be drawn by, and some of them waved mockingly at the dark, barred window of the thing. Tim Shea of T. Shea - General Store stayed behind his counter but looked out with as much fascination as anyone as the wagon passed, two constables on the driver's seat, and Fry the sergeant of police riding behind."

Some of my colonial ancestors settled in Kempsey, and "A River Town" amply filled in the brutality and beautiful atmosphere of the times. ( )
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
Quirky, compelling. Makes you want to read more by Keneally. ( )
  CharlesBoyd | Nov 11, 2009 |
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