Promised Lands, Faber 1995 (Abacus 2000)
Winner of the Writers' Guild Best Fiction Book award, 1996
The year is 1788, the place New South Wales. Marine Lieutenant William Dawes has arrived in Australia to build an observatory, reform the convicts and understand the Aborigines. He is a good man who will be subject to many temptations.
In England, now, a child is born. His mother knows he has extraordinary powers; his father knows he is a helpless cripple. Revolted by the child, he finds refuge in the past - his own utopian attempts at educational reform, and the brave new world the colonists imposed on Australia.
'Ambitiously conceived and brilliantly realised . . . This is a fascinating book. The main narrative is intricately plotted and full of splendidly vital and subtly ambiguous characters. Rogers' novel has an elegance and erotic potency comparable to those of Jane Campion's film The Piano, but it also has an epic sweep to it.' Sunday Times
'This story of lost innocence is rich in itself and beautifully imagined from Rogers' researches. In air that 'waves and wrinkles with heat' we see Dawes' moral labours translated into physical terms - sweat, stickiness, pinched flesh. White buttocked convicts rut in the mud; a debonair surgeon plays Mozart in a tent thick with insects . . . Marvellously intelligent.' Observer
'Ambitious in scope, daringly plotted, beautifully written and stands comparison with Golding's Rites Of Passage as an elegy to lost innocence.' New Statesman
'Meticulously constructed. Promised Lands is a strong, thoughtful novel . . . as much about the writing of fiction as it is about the seductive dangers of innocence and idealism.' New York Times Book Review.
'Rogers' use of genuine historical detail is brilliant, she knows exactly what to use, and when to stop. Those first 10 years in New South Wales have never been portrayed with such an intimate flavour . . . It makes you aware once again that history is the greatest teacher. It also makes you aware that you are in the presence of an extraordinary novelist.' Canberra Times
'There is an omnipotence to the writing that drives this novel along without any veering, any faltering, any doubt. Few novels have the assurance of being directed by such a single-minded and powerful intelligence. It seems natural that George Eliot should spring to mind.' Sunday Age, Melbourne.
'Ambitious, brave, and beautifully crafted.' TLS
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