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In 1789 in Sydney Cove, the remotest penal colony of the British Empire, a group of convicts and one of their captors unite to stage a play. As felons, perjurers and whores rehearse, their playmaker becomes strangely seduced. For the play’s power is mirrored in the rich, varied life of this primitive land, and, not least, in the convict and actress, Mary Brenham.

Reviews

Formidably good . . . strong, subtle, echoing and profound
The Sunday Times
A magnificent and moving documentary, a tribute to his roots
Mail on Sunday
He seizes with stunning effect on an event far more bizarre than any fiction
New Statesman
An excellent novel
Independent
The literary joy here has more to do with how individual each characterisation is, each one tuned to another note of Keneally's rich, strong prose
Kirkus Reviews
This is Mr Keneally at his best
Daily Telegraph
Punchy, highly intelligent
Financial Times
Mingles meticulous research with lucid characterisation
Daily Mail
The best Australian writer alive
Auberon Waugh