The Soldier's Curse by Meg Keneally
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A delightful surprise this novel. Set in Australia, in 1825, in a penal colony and told from a convict's view, these facts did not give me much hope for a dryly humorous tale so well written I was there in the colony as I read.
Full marks to the Keneallys for their excellent and detailed research and for their ability to create a character who was appealing. Hugh Llewellyn Monsarrat was a clever clerk, son of a clerk and with the brain and desire to be a lawyer. But that took money and birth. He had no chance of making it legally so he forged documents and became a successful small town solicitor. Alas when he was eventually discovered as a forger the full penalty of the law fell on him. Saved from the noose by the King's mercy he was transported to Australia.
In Port Macquarie penal settlement he is clerk to the commander, a civilised major, and finds himself trying to find out who killed the major's wife.
The plot is tight, well told and the pace excellent. What makes the book is the tone, the dry humour of Monsarrat. Most of the story is told through his thoughts and he is a clever gentle man with a dry intelligent wit. I haven't enjoyed a book as much for quite a while. Read it and see.
View all my reviews