The tragedy and violence of Gallipoli provide the climax to this very personal, moving and surprisingly romantic story. With remarkable skill and in achingly beautiful prose, Roger McDonald takes the reader on an archetypal Australian journey which parallels the nation’s progress from its country childhood, through the adolescent exuberance of its young cities, to initiation on one of the world’s ancient battlefields.
It is a vital journey, haunted by menace and disillusionment, one embedded in our national mythology. This astonishing first novel, published to great critical acclaim in 1979 and since then selling over 100,000 copies, tells the story of two boys from the bush, the thoughtful and awkward Walter and his knowing friend Billy Mackenzie, and their girls Frances and Diana. Together they discover a future which seems full of promise, drawing them into the exciting turmoil of passion and war.
But theirs is a fateful alliance, in a world all too quickly passing, with an outcome they never could have foreseen.
Winner of The Age Book of the Year Award and made into the highly successful eight-part ABC TV mini-series.
“The book is impressive, with a subtle understanding of human motives and a clear eye on human savagery.” Rodney Hall, The Sydney Morning Herald
“The interlocking stories of 1915 are deftly assembled by McDonald, who manages to make the infernal din of Gallipoli and the clink of silverware in an Australian dining room seem equally familiar and ominous” New Yorker
“It is difficult to think of another novel that conveys with such disturbing immediacy the smells, tastes, sensations of this war.” Brian Keirnan, The Age
“This novel is a major addition to the literature of World War I – an eloquent statement by an Australian writer about love and death, about the destruction of innocence and the dehumanizing lunacy of war” Washington Star
“A powerfully affecting piece of work” Newsweek