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 began his writing career in 1964 and has published thirty novels since. They include Schindler's Ark, which won the Booker Prize in 1982 and was subsequently made into the film Schindler's List, and The Chant Of Jimmie Blacksmith, Confederates and Gossip From The Forest, each of which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His most recent novels are The Daughters Of Mars, which was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize in 2013, and Shame and the Captives. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including his memoir Homebush Boy, Searching for Schindler and Australians. He is married with two daughters and lives in Sydney.