At the heart of this long and absorbing novel is the Great Serpent which is how the Native Australian Brippoki sees the River Thames. Bought to Victorian London as part of a cricket team, he has another motive for being here, to research the life of a man transported to Australia nearly 80 years earlier. There is marvellous counterpointing of Aboriginal life against the seething, crowded and dirty world of London in the 1860’s, The length of the novel gives Ed Hillyer the space to fill out historical detail creating a very strong sense of time and place.
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May 1868 - an Aboriginal Australian cricket team begins a tour of England. One of the players is on a quest to explore his Truth, or Dreaming. Sarah Larkin's quiet routine, divided between her father's sick room and the British Library, takes on a completely new aspect when King Cole, aka Brippoki, arrives unannounced on her doorstep, requesting her help. A curious friendship develops as together they research the fate and fortune of Joseph Druce, a convicted felon, transported to New South Wales nearly eighty years earlier: sneak thief, drunkard, cattle rustler, Royal Navy deserter - and quite possibly a murderer. From Lord's cricket ground to the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich and the muddy banks of the River Thames - the Great Serpent coiled at the heart of his London Dreaming - diabolical spirits rage in pursuit of the hapless Aborigine. His health and sanity unravelling, Brippoki is a man out of place, and running out of time. In this powerful debut novel, Ed Hillyer has created an epic brimming with memorable characters and historical intrigue, and etched with documentary detail that brings both Regency and Victorian London vividly to life. Sources: The novel takes as its starting point the historical British tour of any Australian cricket team, the Aboriginal Australian Eleven. 'The Life of a Greenwich Pensioner' by Joseph Druce (1777-1819), written in the year of his death, is an unpublished manuscript now kept in the Mitchell Library, New South Wales, Australia. The Aboriginal cricketer, Bripumyarrimin, or 'Brippoki', is buried in Meath Gardens, Bethnal Green, London. Other characters and events in the novel are entirely fictitious.
'A love of cricket is no requirement, for this is a human tale and a story of London and its great river, but perhaps you too might find an unexpected connection that draws you into this delightful tale.' - HACKWRITERS
'Every single page is full to bursting. Yet every single word earns its place...The whole novel is breathtaking in its scope and originality. This is a multi-layered literary read. Thoroughly recommended.' - THE BOOKBAG
'This vibrant, intelligent book draws its inspiration from possibly cricket's most remarkable team: the almost forgotten Australian Aborigine side that toured England in 1868. From this unlikely source Hillyer, a first time novelist but possessing considerable assurance as a storyteller, has drafted an intricate tale about two unusual men who effectively exchanged destinies. Hillyer's meticulous research and gift for atmosphere brings London and its rich history to life, from the prim and proper arena that was Lord's in the Victorian era to the ragged filth of the city's backstreets and its inhabitants, his handling of Brippoki's hallucinogenic episodes are skilfully done and his use of Dreaming, a concept often used in modern literature but rarely with a great deal of success, is sensitive and understated. But perhaps his greatest achievement is his ability to inject structure and humour into this tale (fantastic incidental characters steal the spotlight on a regular basis) and the result is a charming, unusual and poignant book.' - ALL ABOUT CRICKET
Publication date: 11/03/2010
Publisher: Myriad Editions
|Publication date:||11th March 2010|
|Genres:||eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Ed Hillyer is a British writer and artist. His books include the award-winning graphic novel series The End of the Century Club, noir anthology It's Dark in London and, most recently, a daring adaptation of King Lear for Manga Shakespeare.More About Ed Hillyer