Source: Courtesy of Allen & Unwin via The Reading Room
This time it wasn’t the blurb or the cover which grabbed my attention but the author. I’ve read and enjoyed his previous works which were very different from this altogether. The Jack Susko books were mysteries set in Sydney which had a slight noir atmosphere but modern setting. Infamy is historical fiction set in the early settlement days of Australia, specifically in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). Being an immigrant myself, this kind of story (particularly in Australia) appeals to me.
The blurb of this book compares author & this work to other authors & works of which I am unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, this is a point which I can neither support nor disagree with. ‘A Steamy love story’, however, it is not. Well, at least not what I think of what ‘a steamy love story’ is supposed to be. There was attraction at first sight type of thing, a damsel in distress and a hero to rescue but there wasn’t really any sparks that you’d expect from a romance.
The book follows quite a number of characters which encompassed practically all strata of society and from which we can appreciate the story from all different point of views. We can see the story unfolds from the top ruling class to the convicts and the outcasts. The numerous lines of story could have been annoying but the flawless execution of switches between characters made the read smoothly chronological.
One thing that I dislike about historical fiction is how hard life was then and at times, how totally unfair. Whilst Infamy does not shy away from the hard stuff, it also wasn’t that graphic (at this point, I’m referring to violence against women & natives). Let’s just say, things could have been a lot worse but the ending was not in any way distressing as I’d expect from this kind of novel.
Quotes of interest:
‘To be,’ Coyne had said, ‘one must become.’
~the words of a madman
Wells dropped the back of his head to the ground now, lay there and draped an arm over his eyes, felt the cold earth come up into his body. Where the hell was he? Fucking a boy beneath these stars, drunk in this place that he still couldn’t believe was real, drunk and undoubtedly about to die. He remembered once being among kindnesses, some distant and by now frayed and faded love, though he’d never been sure it was his own memory to begin with. More likely it was something pilfered; there was nothing Marcus Wells had ever had in his life that wasn’t already somebody else’s first. Maybe he’d looked into a window from the street somewhere back in England, cold and hungry like he was, seen a fire glowing and a mother sewing, children at her feet and a father dozing in a chair beside. Took it as his own. Did it matter? Could anybody have begrudged him the thieving? Well, he supposed it didn’t matter anymore now. And they had, by God. Begrudged him.
~just utterly hopeless
Thanks to Allen & Unwin via The Reading Room for copy of book