Poor Man's Orange

Ruth Park, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (274p) ISBN 978-0-312-00054-7
Continuing the history of the Irish Darcys begun in Missus and continued in The Harp in the South, this third novel of a trilogy, out of print for 35 years, acquaints a new generation with the vicissitudes of slum life in a Sydney suburb. Roie, the older Darcy daughter, has married Charlie Rothe and is pregnant with her second child; 16-year-old Dolour compensates for her adolescent gawkiness by lavishing her affection on her niece Moira. Roie dies in childbirth, a tragedy made more palpable by the wealth of love that has enriched her marriage to Charlie. Now two children must be cared for by Mumma Darcy and Dolour, while Daddathe shiftless, irrepressible Hugh Darcy, older here but no more responsiblecontinues to carouse and even, to his shame, bring gifts to a prostitute. The inconsolable Charlie, hitherto hardworking and dependable, loses his way, and the family is mired for a time in poverty and hopelessness. But the author's light touch is unfailing; she turns from the somber Darcys to the Chinese ""fluiterer'' next door and to the tiny old man with his hundreds of parcels whom Hugh drags home from a flophouse. Slowly, in the midst of serio-comic diversions, the mood of the household changes. In short, Park supplies tears and laughter aplenty in this absorbing family saga. (November 2)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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