The Blue-Eyed Aborigineby Rosemary Hayes
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This is the story of a cabin boy and a soldier marooned on the Australian mainland after a mutiny and shipwreck of the Batavia in 1629, who became Australia's very first European settlers.
Noble savages adopt a young mutineer in this tale spun around the possible first arrival of European settlers to Australia.
Vividly depicted as a wretched hive of scum and villainy (the first page alone contains references to lice, filth, fetid odors and piss), the Dutch trading ship Batavia strikes a reef in far western Australia, and while part of the crew sets off in a small boat to seek rescue, the rest begin ruthlessly raping and/or murdering the hapless passengers. Seventeen-year-old cabin boy Jan is reluctantly forced to join in the general rapine to stay alive himself—and, instead of being hanged with the rest of the mutineers when relief arrives, is marooned with a companion on the mainland. Abruptly and inexplicably switching from third-person past-tense to first-person present with alternating narrators, Hayes then sends him inland to meet, befriend, learn the ropes of survival from and ultimately raise a family among a group of helpful, welcoming, generous, generic Aboriginals who believe him an ancestral spirit. Nonetheless, the author sticks closely to 17th-century records of the actual mutiny and closes with a note about later events and Jan's possible native descendants.
Gutwrenching (and no more explicit than necessary) in the early going and a romantic idyll by the end, despite the hinky narration, this illuminates an intriguing byway of Aussie history. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12-15)
- Lincoln, Frances Limited
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 341 KB
- Age Range:
- 12 - 15 Years
Read an Excerpt
God! How I wish this cursed voyage would end. We've been on board for nearly eight months. I was excited when we set sail on Batavia, for she's a new ship on her maiden voyage. She left Texel well loaded with valuables to trade for the spices we'll buy when we reach Java in the Indies. It wasn't so bad at first when there was fresh food, animals on board to slaughter, clean water to drink, and the crew in good spirits. But now! There's nothing but dried or salted stuff to eat and the water barrels are full of wriggling worms. It stinks, too, and you have to hold your nose before you drink it.
And everyone is foul-tempered. We've been frozen with cold in the stormy northern seas, fried by the heat along the coast of Africa and buffeted by gales in the Southern Ocean.
But now, at last, we're in calmer, warm waters, heading north again. Only a few more weeks to go, God willing.
Meet the Author
It is 1629, and there is mutiny in the air aboard the Dutch ship Batavia as she plies her way towards Java with her precious cargo. Jan, a cabin boy, and Wouter, a young soldier, find themselves caught up in the tragic wrecking and bloody revolt that follow. But worse is to come
Based on the diaries of the ship's Commander, Rosemary Hayes recaptures some of sea history's most dramatic moments, linking the fates of of Jan and Wouter with discoveries that intrigue Australians to this day.
Praise for Payback:
"This is contemporary novel-writing at its most relevant."
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