The Widow and Her Hero by Tom Keneally

Reviewed by
March 2007, no. 289
Peter Pierce reviews 'The Widow and Her Hero' by Tom Keneally

The Widow and Her Hero

by Tom Keneally

Doubleday, $49.95 hb, 297 pp, 1864711011

The Widow and Her Hero by Tom Keneally

Reviewed by
March 2007, no. 289

In September 1943, seventeen commandos of Z Special Force, led by Lieutenant Commander Ivan Lyon, attacked and sank with limpet mines seven ships in the Singapore harbour. A year later, in October 1944, when the Pacific War had only months to run, a repeat performance failed and all those involved were either killed in action or executed by the Japanese. Though these events provide the basis for Tom Keneally’s latest novel, The Widow and Her Hero, he insists that it is ‘not meant to be a roman-à-clef of those times and characters’. Rather, he is concerned with the motives and the ‘inner souls’ of the people whom he has invented.

They are set against Keneally’s favourite fictional background: the battlefields and homefronts of World War II, the conflict that shadowed his childhood. This was the temporal setting of his second novel, The Fear (1965), of Season in Purgatory (1976) and An Angel in Australia (2002) among others. And that is not to count the two novels that Keneally published pseudonymously, as ‘William Coyle’. In this latest work he investigates, as he has before, how domestic society is transformed by its accommodations to war. He depicts the lives of anxious wives and of those who became war widows (‘a whole sub-class of women in the world, invisible except to each other’), of bureaucrats, of servicemen waiting their next call to duty.

Subscribe to ABR

Peter Pierce reviews 'The Widow and Her Hero' by Tom Keneally

The Widow and Her Hero

by Tom Keneally

Doubleday, $49.95 hb, 297 pp, 1864711011

You May Also Like

From the New Issue

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.