Any novel by Andrew McGahan is likely to be a surprise, if you know his previous work, but if you were to approach this book knowing nothing about the author, there would be little about it to disturb your expectations. The cover, with its heraldic design against a marine backdrop, immediately signals its genre, and the maps on the endpapers, showing McGahan’s imagined geography of a place called New Island, confirm that this is an old-fashioned boys’ adventure novel of the heroic seafaring type. A preamble, titled ‘Fair Warning’, neatly excuses McGahan from any pretensions to oceanographic accuracy: ‘The Great Ocean rose and fell with different waves then, and different creatures moved in its depths … The ocean Dow sailed should not be confused with the lesser seas of today.’
Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Coming of the Whirlpool' by Andrew McGahan
The Coming of the Whirlpool: Ship Kings Book One
by Andrew McGahan
Allen & Unwin, $22.99 hb, 289 pp, 9781742376479
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Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.
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