In 1789 in Sydney Cove, the remotest penal colony of the British Empire, a group of convicts and one of their captors unite to stage a play.
As felons, perjurers and whores rehearse, their playmaker becomes strangely seduced.
For the play's power is mirrored in the rich, varied life of this primitive land, and, not least, in the convict and actress, Mary Brenham.
Formidably good . . . strong, subtle, echoing and profound - The Sunday Times
A magnificent and moving documentary, a tribute to his roots - Mail on Sunday
He seizes with stunning effect on an event far more bizarre than any fiction - New Statesman
An excellent novel - Independent
The literary joy here has more to do with how individual each characterisation is, each one tuned to another note of Keneally's rich, strong prose - Kirkus Reviews
This is Mr Keneally at his best - Daily Telegraph
Punchy, highly intelligent - Financial Times
Mingles meticulous research with lucid characterisation - Daily Mail
Thomas Keneally, of Irish extraction, was brought up in Australia and still lives in Sydney. His novels include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates (which first led him to study nineteenth century American history). Schindler's Ark was later turned into as remarkable a film by Steven Spielberg under the title Schindler's List.