Customer Review

Reviewed in Australia on 11 December 2013
`The Indigo Sky' is the sequel to Ms Booth's debut novel, `Stillwater Creek' and sees a return to the fictional town of Jingera on the New South Wales south coast four years later. It is now 1961, and while Jingera is still idyllic with its clear blue skies, its surf and its beautiful lagoon, much has changed for at least some of its inhabitants. Ilona Talivaldis and her daughter Zidra, the former refugees we met in `Stillwater Creek' are now fully fledged `Jingeroids'. Ilona has married Peter Vincent, a local farmer, and Zidra has grown into a teenager on the verge of womanhood.

Philip Chapman, one of Ilona's former music students, a sensitive boy who is a gifted musician, is leaving home. Philip is to attend an exclusive boarding school in Sydney: the same school that George Cadwallader's son Jim attends. George Cadwallader himself, the Jingera butcher who loves to gaze at stars by night, is afraid that his family is falling apart.

When Zidra receives a message from her friend Lorna Hunter, taken from her family as a consequence of government policy, she and Ilona join in a race against time to find Lorna's parents in the hope that they may be reunited - at least for a visit. Lorna may have been forcibly removed to the Gudgiegalah Girls' Home, but she knows that she won't be there forever.

This is a picture of a regional Australia that some of us remember, including the sad mistreatment of many Indigenous Australians at the time. It's also a reminder that difference can be difficult, and perhaps disastrous: especially for children such as Philip who are vulnerable to bullying. And George Cadwallader? What does his future hold? But it isn't only the characters who make an impact in this story: the descriptions of the landscape and the environment are wonderful as well.

And there's a third book: set in Jingera in 1970. Another opportunity to catch up with the residents of Jingera, especially for Zidra, Lorna and Jim.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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