The Conversations at Curlow Creek

David Malouf, Author Pantheon Books $23 (240p) ISBN 978-0-679-44266-0
Two men spend the night in a hut in the vast, bleak western highlands of Australia in 1827. One is a convicted felon, a captured member of a gang of outlaws working to foment a rebellion among the colony's oppressed natives. The other is his nemesis, an officer charged with hanging him at dawn. Through their halting conversations, the confluence of their very different lives takes on a mythic quality. Both are exiles from their native Ireland, though from different social strata. The prisoner, Daniel Carney, accepts his fate with stoic dignity, though he mourns the death of the leader of his band, a charismatic fellow known as Dolan. The military officer, Michael Adair, has reason to think that Dolan was really Fergus Connellan, his beloved boyhood friend and adoptive brother with whom he was raised on a beautiful estate. In a series of reflective flashbacks, Adair's relationship with Fergus is revealed, as well as Adair's love for Virgilia, a spirited young woman from a neighboring estate, who loves Fergus instead. Malouf relates his complex story slowly, with more interior monologues than direct action. The narrative acquires power as the deeply pessimistic Adair is forced to acknowledge the forces that have shaped his personality and that of his friends, and the consequences that now lie in wait. Malouf (The Great World; Remembering Babylon) raises existential questions about moral order and justice, depicts the contrast between rich and poor in Ireland and Australia and lyrically describes the landscapes of both countries and the spirits that abide there. The accretion of precise detail rewards the reader with resonating insights. And the surprising epilogue, with its two spiritual resurrections, offers a rich and satisfying denouement. Author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Show other formats
Hardcover - 317 pages - 978-0-7862-1149-4
Hardcover - 200 pages - 978-1-86340-762-5
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-09-974401-6
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4090-4244-0
Paperback - 233 pages - 978-0-679-77905-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.