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Old 03-13-2019, 10:10 PM   #20
darryl
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Australia
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I was sure I had read this book as a Child but after reading it now I doubt this. I have now filled in a gap which should have been filled long ago.

I really enjoyed the Book. I agree that had it been published with the final chapter it may well not have been the success it turned out to be. Supernatural or Science Fiction aspects unfortunately tend to turn off a lot of readers, and I doubt this book would be an exception. Many theories have been advanced, and the proposed last chapter published, but it is difficult to see a credible explanation for the disappearance of the girls which does not involve some element of one or the other. The logical explanation of the girls having been lost in a cave or crevice or even having been kidnapped or murdered leaves unexplained the sudden onset of sleep and the trance like state in which they then proceeded up the rock, apparently oblivious to the calls of their younger schoolmate. There are also other aspects which strain credibility in the case of a more mundane explanation.

The book does involve sometimes exquisite descriptions of the Australian bush and its creatures, and also captures the heat and languor of an Australian bush summer. One interesting aspect which struck me but may elude non-Australians is the relationship between the various social "classes". Whilst I doubt there is such a thing as a truly classless society Australia developed into one of the most egalitarian societies on the face of the earth. It was not intended to be that way. Certainly I think the English envisaged a similar society to their own. But various events in Australian history meant this was not to be. The Eureka stockade and the Shearer's strike come to mind as notable examples. Labour unions played a large role. I found the relationships between the wealthy and those working for them to be very interesting, and to embody aspects of both what had already happened and what was to come. I doubt, for instance, that the friendship between Mike and Albert is something that would ever have existed in England at the time.

Another facet which struck me is the clinging to old English habits and traditions totally unsuited to Australia. This is a country where those in the first fleet almost starved in the midst of plenty waiting for supplies from England. Where much of the early architecture and arguably even some much more recent architecture is more suitable for a cold climate. The dress of the girls in the book may have been tolerable in England, but would have been truly horrific in the midst of an Australian summer.
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