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By Nicholas Shakespeare

Following the dying of his mom and dad in a motor vehicle crash, eleven-year-old Alex Dove is torn from his existence on a distant farm in Tasmania and despatched to college in England. whilst he returns to Australia twelve years later, the undying fantastic thing about the land and his come upon with a tender lady whose personal lifestyles has been marked through tragedy, convince him to stick. They marry, and he reveals himself drawn into the eccentric, frequently hilarious dynamics of island lifestyles. eager for teenagers, the couple open their domestic to a disquieting visitor, a teenage castaway, whose presence of their domestic starts off to solve their tenuously solid happiness.

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Together with the general store, it defined his life. Because, wisely or not – and he thought, on balance, not – he had obeyed Lieutenant Black’s other stricture: about keeping away from women. He had had opportunity and provocation galore. In the light of his first-aid training, he was expected to perform minor medical procedures on the natives. Alerted by drums, the women would walk for two days. They came down from the hills and lined up for him. Bent over, each carrying her child in a bilum, taking the weight of the string bag in a broad strap around her forehead.

The place had altered from his last visit, shortly after his return from England four years ago. Then he had asked the waitress for a mango. He might have asked her for a pre-phylloxeric Lafite from her expression. Two more proprietors and now the hotel was owned by Tildy’s father, a blusterer with a grey handlebar moustache who – according to Harry – had been retired from the North Hobart Cricket Club because of his beer gut. Framley’s taste was reflected in the green chintz pelmets that stretched over the windows and the chaffinch noise that issued from a concealed alarm when Alex had first come into the dining room, causing Debbie to come scurrying from the kitchen.

But nothing to compare with this, Merridy. ” “Give me one reason why I should believe a word you say. ” “No, you’re right, perhaps you shouldn’t. Yet perhaps you want to. ” She laughed. ” She had met his type in her first year at uni. Ray was an acupuncturist who knew nothing about women, but knew by dull rote the seven spots where to touch them so that in surprisingly more instances than not, and against every instinct, their cheeks dimpled and their skin tingled in a strange way up the insides of their legs.

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