[Editor: This review of Inheritors (by Brian Penton) is from the “Book reviews” column, published in Truth (Sydney, NSW), 20 September 1936.]
(By Brian Penton.)
Mr. Penton is no more concerned to paint Australia a cheerful color than are our critics overseas.
“Inheritors” is concerned with the bad old days, tainted with the aftermath of the convict era, of the cruel slaughter of the aboriginals, of brutal tyranny, with might as right.
One hopes that most of its inhabitants see Australia as a happier place than Mr. Penton’s pessimists, who ask, “What’s the use of fighting? Effort is wasted in a world given over to inexorable decay.” As a fragment of our history in the making the book is valuable, for research and knowledge are evident on every page.
Light is thrown on the mining industry and what scientific development meant to the men outback, on what the advent of the telegraph and the railway brought about, primitive conditions disappearing as a teeming, fruitful age rewarded the industrial settler — all incidental to a story of ferocity and passion, with little to lighten the gloom of personal relations.
Mr. Penton knows that easy living makes hard writing, so he piles on the horrors and refuses to spare the reader’s feelings.
Unpleasant and violent as are most of the people, they arouse sympathy because of their vivid reality. One sees their wrongdoing and unhappiness as the result of inherited evil or of blind forces set in motion before their entry into this vale of tears. “Inheritors” is a powerful and arresting book, but decidedly not a cheerful one. — A. A. H.
Publishers: Angus and Robertson.
Our copy from A. and R.
Truth (Sydney, NSW), 20 September 1936, p. 24
outback = remote rural areas; sparsely-inhabited back country; often given as one word and capitalized, “Outback” (variations: out back, outback, out-back, Out Back, Outback)
[Editor: Changed “rehearch” to “research”.]