Is it worse to be exiled from one's country than from one's heart?
'Is it worse to be exiled from one's country than from one's heart?'
Alexandra, an acerbic writer of popular travel books, is leaving Australia on the Boudicea. Tortured by the early death of her beloved sister in childbirth, she has long been a lone observer of the foibles of others. To her dismay, she finds that the cabin she has booked is to be shared by the young, vibrant Vicky - an all too potent reminder of her sister.
Vicky, a talented artist, is on her way to study in London. She and Alexandra are soon the centre of a pleasant shipboard group. But things change when a crowd of West Indians board in Jamaica. Vicky finds herself in an unpleasant situation after she dances with one of the new arrivals, Olumide, and prejudice rears its ugly head.
In London, Alexandra realises she is no longer content living life as a detached observer. She watches as Vicky and Olumide's friendship deepens. But the young lovers are gradually forced to face a grim reality - where can they make a home that lets them live in freedom?
The playwright and novelist Ellen Dymphna Cusack, born in 1902, graduated from the University of Sydney in 1925. Despite being of fragile health, she taught in schools across country NSW for almost 20 years. She published her first novel, Jungfrau, in 1936.
Cusack's first literary collaboration - Pioneers on Parade (1939) - was with Miles Franklin. After retiring, she wrote Come in Spinner (1951) with Florence James, which dwelt on controversial issues, such as prostitution and abortion, and was an immediate sensation. It was finally published unabridged in 1988, and became an ABC TV series in 1989.
After the war, Cusack travelled through Europe, China and Russia for 20 years with her partner Norman Freehill, a journalist and member of the Communist Party. She wrote nine more novels - including Southern Steel (1953), Picnic Races (1962), Black Lightning (1964) and The Half-Burnt Tree (1969) - and several plays, before her death in 1981.
Allen & Unwin
A&U House Of Books
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