The Second Bridegroom

Rodney Hall, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-25668-5
The Australian author of Captivity Captive and Kisses of the Enemy has fashioned a strange, haunting narrative that is most successful when it is most elusive, but is oddly unconvincing in its plot details. Its protagonist is a young English printer convicted of forgery and sent to early-19th-century Australia. After killing a fellow convict who has brutalized him, he flees into the bush, where he is nurtured by a group of aborigines; and when they fall upon the new settlers and burn their camp, he is recaptured. The story is ostensibly written by the convict in captivity, partly as a demented love letter to the master settler's wife, whom he has glimpsed from afar; in a kind of postscript of would-be crushing irony, she gives her side of the story. This conceit and the mysterious resurrection of the murdered man are devices out of key with the rest, a beautifully written study of solitude and a poetic meditation on the meaning of civilization. Hall's prose, of exquisite flexibility and lucidity, yields countless memorable images, making the novel's sometimes clumsy apparatus all the more dismaying. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Hardcover - 978-0-517-10828-4
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