Jennifer fled the drab monotony of post-war London. When she landed in Australia, it was like coming home. She loved it and when she met Carl, she had every reason to stay. But the two of them came from quite different worlds, and it is the story of their building a life together that Nevil Shute tells in his matchless way. With warmth and understanding, and with his natural affection for the people he creates, the author brings to life his characters and the pioneer country in which they live.
477 pages, with a reading time of ~7.25 hours (119,478 words), and first published in 1952. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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Tim Archer got into the utility and drove it from the Banbury Feed and General Supply Pty. Ltd., down the main street of the town. The car was a 1946 Chevrolet, somewhat battered by four years of station use, a sturdy practical vehicle with a coupé front seat and an open truck body behind. In this rear portion he was carrying a forty-four-gallon drum of Diesel oil, four reels of barbed wire, a can of kerosene, a sack of potatoes, a coil of new sisal rope, a carton of groceries, and a miscellaneous assortment of spades and jacks and chains that seldom left the truck. He drove down the long tree-shaded main street, broad as Whitehall and lined with wooden stores and bungalows widely spaced, and stopped at the post office.
He was a lad of twenty-two with a broad, guileless face, with yellow hair and blue eyes, and a fair, bronzed skin. He thought and moved rather slowly; if you disliked the Victorian countryside you would have said that he looked rather like a sheep, one of the sheep he spent his life in tending. His father had escaped from country life to Melbourne at an early age and had become a solicitor; Tim Archer had been sent to Melbourne Grammar School. In turn, he had escaped from city life when he was seventeen, and he had gone to learn the business of sheep upon a station at Wodonga in the north part of the state. Now he was working for Jack Dorman on a property called Leonora, twelve miles out from Banbury, and near a place called Merrijig. Leonora was hardly to be classed as a sheep station, being only eighteen hundred acres, and Merrijig was hardly to be classed as a place, being only a school and a little wooden pub and a bridge over the river. He had been at Leonora for three years, largely because he was in love in a slow, patient manner with the youngest daughter of the house, Angela Dorman. He did not see much of her because she was away at Melbourne University taking Social Studies. He wrote to her from time to time, simple, rather laboured letters about lambing and floods and bush fires and horses. She answered about one in three of these letters, because the country bored her stiff.
He got out of the utility, a big young man dressed in a check shirt open at the neck, a pair of soiled blue canvas working trousers stained and dirty from the saddle, and heavy country boots. He went into the post office and said to the girl at the counter, “I’ll take the letters for Leonora.” The mail delivery would not reach the station till late afternoon.
The girl said, “Morning, Tim.” She handed him a bundle from the stacked table behind her. “Going to the dance on Saturday?”
“I dunno,” he said. “I haven’t got a partner.”
“Go on,” she chaffed him. “You don’t need a partner. There’ll be more girls there than men.”
“Where have all the girls sprung up from?”
“I don’t know,” she said idly. “There seem to be a lot of girls about the town just now. Mostly New Australians. They’ve got two new girls at the hospital–ward-maids. Lithuanians they are, I think.”
“I don’t speak Lithuanian,” the young man said. “Aussie’s good enough for me–Aussie or English. Like cartridges for a twenty-two. The continental stuff’s no good.” He shuffled through the letters, looking for the one that was not there. “That all there are? Nothing for me?”
“Not unless it’s there,” she said with a touch of sympathy. “That’s all there were for Leonora.”
“Okay.” He stood in silence for a moment while his mind changed topic. “I’ll have to see about the dance,” he said. “I don’t know that I’ll be able to get in.”
“Come if you can,” she said. “There’s one or two Aussie girls’ll be there, in among the New Australians.” He smiled slowly. “They’re having favours–paper caps, balloons, and all that.”
“I’ll have to see what Jack says. He may be using the utility.” He turned to go. “‘Bye.”
He went out and got into the utility and drove out of the town upon the road to Merrijig that led on to the lumber camps up at Lamirra in the forests of Mount Buller. It was October, and the spring sun was warm as he drove, but the grass was still bright green and the upland pastures were fresh and beautiful. There were wattle trees in flower still, great splashes of yellow colour on the darker background of the gum tree forests, and the gum trees themselves were touched with the reddish brown of the young shoots, making them look a little like an English wood in autumn. Tim Archer did not fully realise the beauty of the scene, the wide sunny pastures and the woods that merged into the blue mountains to the south and east, because this was where he lived and worked and scenery like that was normal to his life. He only knew that this was where he liked to be, far better than the town.