[Editor: This review of The Crooked Stick, or Polly’s Protection (by Rolf Boldrewood) is an extract from the “Book Notices” section published in The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW), 24 December 1895.]
[The Crooked Stick, or Polly’s Probation]
Our old friend Rolf Boldrewood appears once more with a tale strictly Australian and painfully uninteresting. Never did writer so completely exhaust himself in one book as Rolf Boldrewood.
His “Robbery Under Arms” was fulfilled with all Australian knowledge, and thrilled with vigour and interest from the first page to the last. It was felt to be a perfect narration of certain phases of Australian life, and there was a general desire that the author should go on and unfold others. But as one by one these others were turned and sent out to the world it was felt that they were tedious repetition to a degree, and even when it was sought to acquire new matter by purchase the success was not large.
This latest book, foolishly named “The Crooked Stick, or Polly’s Probation,” will do nothing to restore a sinking fame. It is just barely readable, is fairly accurate in its general Australian facts, telling the story of drought and rain in a way that will not provoke criticism. The chief personages are those we have been familiar with in all Rolf Boldrewood’s books. The heroic policeman, the young gentleman from home, who seems in all things strangely stilted, the wholesome-minded mother and the daughter who develops just as a high-class Australian girl should, the young colonials who are not exactly, perhaps, like those we know, and the incidents which doubtless are each and all culled from the magistrate’s diary.
The story may do well enough in the bush and for those who seek after a sole Australian literature, but it fails to hold the ordinary reader.
The Australian Star (Sydney, NSW), 24 December 1895, p. 2
The reviewer puts forward the theory that the incidents in the novel are “culled from the magistrate’s diary”; this theory is in reference to the author, Thomas Alexander Browne (who used the literary pseudonym of Rolf Boldrewood), who worked as a magistrate in New South Wales from 1871 to 1895.
See: T. Inglis Moore, “Browne, Thomas Alexander (1826–1915)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
[Editor: Changed “Polly’s Protection” to “Polly’s Probation”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]