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Castle to Colony$39.50 AUDby Meg Vivers: Castle to Colony
Books are often compared with tapestries. In Castle to Colony, the background fabric is a family network stretching across most of the nineteenth century, a network based originally in Ireland and England but extending through much of the rest of the world.
The book is mainly a portrait of Irish-born Lucy Gray. But Meg Vivers weaves her image of Lucy from many threads, Lucy herself being a woman of vivid, varied curiosity and, until her last illness, enormous energy.
Lucy Gray was a fine observer of other human beings and of place and landscape. But not all observers leave much record of their impressions. Lucy left a record in two mediums. She wrote, piling detail on detail, and at the same time she sketched, in pencil and watercolour. She did both remarkably well.
Castle to Colony tells the story of a nineteenth-century European who saw the Australian landscape and its inhabitants, Black and White, with remarkably fresh eyes. There was liveliness in everything Lucy did, and the people and things she records are lively too. It's a liveliness nicely mirrored in Meg Vivers' prose.
But this is also a woman’s story. Of all the depictions of colonial Australia which survive from a woman’s point of view, Lucy Gray’s is among the richest and best. For that reason alone this book is an enormously valuable addition to our understanding of Australian history.
Emeritus Professor Alan Atkinson FAHA
Hard Cover ISBN 978 1876344924