cover image It's Raining in Mango

It's Raining in Mango

Thea Astley / Author Putnam Publishing Group $17.95 (208p) ISB

With her characteristic originality, freshness of expression and skill with evocative imagery, Astley (Beachmasters) chronicles the lives of four generations of an Australian family and of an aborigine tribe. Bringing with him a talent for failure, idealistic journalist Cornelius Laffey comes to the raw and sometimes desolate, sometimes lushly fragrant land in 1861; his descendants inherit his sense of justice, his concern for the aborigines (first manifested in the meeting with his son George and the boy called Bidiggi) and his lonely circuit through life. Cornelius's beautiful daughter Nadine is swept out to sea in a brothel during a cyclone; his widow Jessica Olive drudges her way to independence and the right to deliver some strong feminist and anticlerical opinions; his granddaughter Connie finds she is powerless to fill the lonely lives of her beloved brother and her son. In a slim volume that speaks eloquently and with candor, Astley conjurs up a dozen memorable personalities and conveys a stingingly vivid sense of place, rendering the Australian landscape and its social and economic viscissitudes over a span of ten decades. She has a sharp eye and a feeling heart for the sad predicament of the aborigines, castaways in their own culture, and for the betrayed and lonely souls of the Laffey clan. The title refers to the relentless rain that feeds the teeming vegetation of the plundered land during the oppressive season called ""The Wet.'' (October 23)