A Wilful Woman

Michael Talbot, Author Knopf Publishing Group $18.95 (353p) ISBN 978-0-394-55296-5
This richly textured, absorbing sequel to To the Ends of the Earth continues the chronicle of Australia's settlement by an assortment of ``thieves, whores, cheats and murderers.'' When Commodore Arthur Phillip anchors his fleet in Botany Bay and assumes his duties as the colony's governor, he is quickly faced with proliferating problems. The convicts prove intractable and lazy, the marine guards' morale plummets, and the lusty men in both groups suffer from the lack of female companionship. Ambitious Major Robert Ross, the lieutenant governor, schemes to wrest control from Phillip. Actress Kitty Brandon, the ``wilful woman'' who barely escaped hanging after she killed a nobleman, runs afoul of scoundrel Charles Foveaux Nash, who spreads malicious rumors as part of a dastardly plan. Determined to outsmart his peers and captors, arsonist Joe Cribb forges a dangerous alliance with Kitty. Talbot effortlessly interweaves the facts of history with the machinations of his colorful protagonists. The dialogue rings true, accurately reproducing the speech of both aristocratic and low-born characters. And the consequences of Nash's brilliant maneuveringand Kitty's shrewd counterplaybuild to a cliffhanging finale. In short, it's a rousing performance, history rendered with dramatic flourish. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
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