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- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
As British-born Australian author Chris Pearce states in his book's preface, `After 25 years in federal and state public service and 12.5 years in two stints in the real world, I am now writing eBooks, researching my family history, doing a bit of consultancy editing, and contributing to a couple of writing sites in the US. I also compete in tenpin bowling. I have a background in economics, statistics, history, management, marketing and accounting. My wife and I live in Brisbane, Australia.' The reason for quoting the author's version of his resume is that it offers a fine example of what to expect in the style of writing of this very fine historical fiction novel: he knows his facts from research and from personal work history, relates to the characters he creates, and relates his story in well considered prose, assuring all along the fact that the reader must remain involved with the progress of not only the paths of his characters but also the themes of the times (the early 1800s) that yet today maintain the schism between the rich and the poor, the haves and have nots. It is a book successful on all levels.
Chris again accompanies us to the early 1800s for yet another keenly sculpted biography, this time the character of focus is Thomas Pamphlett. The author's synopsis is as fine a description of the books content and it is quoted here; `Thomas Pamphlett as an Australian convict who became a brickmaker in early industrial Manchester, UK, before being sentenced to 14 years' transportation to New South Wales in 1810 for stealing a horse. In Sydney, Pamphlett committed a further crime of stealing the windows from Birch Grove House, Balmain, and was given 100 lashes and six months in a gaol (prison) gang. He escaped twice before being sent to Newcastle penal colony for several years. Back in Sydney, "temporary insanity" exonerated him from a charge of robbing a house at the Hawkesbury River area. He is best known for his time as a castaway with two others in the Moreton Bay area for seven months in 1823, the year before Brisbane was founded. Four of them had set off in a small open boat to fetch cedar from the Illawarra district before a storm blew them out to sea. They suffered incredible hardships for 25 days somewhere in the ocean, with one succumbing to the elements before they became shipwrecked on Moreton Island. Naked, they thought they were south of Sydney and headed north along the beach. They were actually more than 500 miles north of Sydney already and going further away. The trio lived with various Aboriginal groups before Pamphlett spotted a cutter in the bay off Bribie Island. On board was explorer John Oxley looking for a place for a new penal colony. They showed Oxley the Brisbane River. He put in a favourable report to the Governor and the new Moreton Bay convict settlement was set up the following year. Ironically, for a further crime of stealing, Pamphlett was sentenced to seven years' transportation to the new Moreton Bay colony, which may never have been founded had he not been rescued by Oxley. The convict colony became Brisbane, capital city of the state of Queensland, Australia.'
The beauty of reading Chris Pearce's books is his conversational tone of writing, as though we were sitting together just sharing information. He sets his atmospheres well: `Young Thomas Pamphlett, real name James Groom, hurried along the dirty, narrow streets. Unwashed and hungry, he tried in vain to protect himself from the early morning chill around daybreak. He was already off to work. A lack of footpaths forced him to trudge through puddles, mud and slush serving as roadways. In darkness and fog, he saw the outlines of hundreds of other workers - men, women and children - all on foot, hunched over against the cold as they shuffled, staggered, marched or ran in various directions towards their respective places of employment. He heard the pathetic cries of undernourished babies from nearby houses. In front of him a woman emerged from her home and nonchalantly emptied a bedpan into the street. If caught, she could face a hefty fine. Used to constant stenches, he did not bother to hold his nose as he passed. The place was Manchester, England, the year about 1800 and the month April.' And so we know the background from which this
fascinating character begins. Throughout the book are extensive drawings, paintings, maps, and even photographs
that lend a sense of immediacy and credibility to the story.
Once again Chris Pearce has written an historical novel and accomplished the feat of making fact read better than fiction! Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, March 15