This novel should be an Australian classic, and deserves greater prominence in Amazon's offerings. At first, you enter into the troubles faced by a young girl, Philadelphia Gordon arriving in Australia. These chapters are more an introduction to the story. By the time the main character achieves her freedom or independence you begin to feel the power of this great author.
The author manages the pace, the intensity, the wonder and the fascination of the story, its setting, and its characters with incredible poise. You become as a reader accustomed to the flow of the river, and the gentle movement of the paddle steamer. You will be entranced by the river, and by the action and life of everyday Australians who live and work there. But they are not ordinary Australians, as you begin to discover the tremendous spirit, industry, perseverance of the characters. How they fought against the odds and struggled against adversity. How they took meaning from the towns, cities, and the activities and developments around them.
You will discover the individual failings of many characters, they are catalogued and displayed for you to learn from. Its from the mistakes and failures that you learn the most, and I hope you can take to heart much of what you read here.
You will also learn a great deal from this meticulously researched book about the history, geography and development of this great country. This book recaptured the magic that I remember as a child discovering what Australia means to me. I could only wish that instead of Amazon, the smell of Eucalyptus trees was the highlight of my day.
I suggest this story is suitable for young adults and teenagers especially.