I have already recommended to you the books written by newish Australian writer Jock Serong. First he wrote two thrillers called Quota and The Rules of Backyard Cricket and then On the Java Ridge, another thriller about asylum seekers and now he offers a terrific piece of historical fiction. It is called Preservation and is based on the wreck of the Sydney Cove which happened at the entrance to Bass Street in 1797.
The survivors from this wreck set off in a longboat to get help from Sydney but they were again shipwrecked. The survivors from this second shipwreck, including some lascars, then set off to walk 300 miles to Sydney. Only three people reached Sydney. One of these people published a diary of the trek which was published in a newspaper at the time.
Jock Serong has taken this epic story and with great care given us his version of the events. You can bet your bottom dollar this is thrilling but not a thriller. Wonderful characters include the earnest assistant to Governor Hunter who is deputed to find out the truth from the arrivals, and his self-confident wife, as well as the most evil baddie you can ever hope for.
Contact with the indigenous people is nicely handled and all ends well when a rescue ship is sent down to Preservation Island where the original survivors are still clinging to hope. This forgotten shipwreck will now be well-remembered I am sure.
Biologist James Watson, 1962 Nobel Prize co-winner with Francis Crick for discovering the double-helix form of DNA has been in trouble again over his views about racial intelligence. You can find his famous story about the decoding of DNA on the shelves at Abbey’s. It is called Double-Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA. Full of gossip and rivalry, this was a best seller for us at the time.
There was talk that they had used X-Ray photographs done by Rosalind Franklin, without her permission, and there was a book about this, Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA. Her family were involved with the firm of Routledge and Kegan Paul and I recall going to lunch with her brother who had come to Sydney to promote their books.
I’ve been to see Mary Poppins Returns and can assure you it is totally terrific. Indulge.
Happy New Year,
Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers