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BACK COVER BLURB: A woman has done an unspeakable thing ...

It is 1921. In a mountain-locked valley, amid squalls of driving rain, Jessie is on the run.

Born wild and brave, by twenty-six she has already lived life as a circus rider, cattle rustler and convict. But on this fateful night she is just a woman trying to survive.

She mounts her horse and points him towards the highest mountain in sight. Soon bands of men will crash through the bushland desperate to claim the reward on her head. And in their wake will be two more men, one her lover, the other the law, both uncertain if they should save her or themselves. 

FIRST SENTENCE {Prelude To Death}: Who hasn't heard of Harry Houdini.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 86}: Are you black? said the girl, examining him. We don't serve blacks.

Jack Brown tried to keep his cool. Where's the madam?

She's off crook. You look black but you've got blue eyes, said the girl.

And what colour do you think I am inside? said Jack Brown.

The girl looked confused. She did not answer. 

SOURCE: A reading group read.

MY THOUGHTS: Reading the disclaimer, 'This is a work of fiction - inspired by art, music, literature and the landscape as much as the life and times of Jessie Hickman herself', I had to wonder if the Jessie of our Story was in any way connected to this Jessie Hickman.

Aha. Set in the Australian outback in the nineteen twenties and inspired by the life of one Elizabeth Jessie Hickman, The Burial (a debut novel which is also published as The Untold) is indeed a novel which re-imagines certain aspects of her life.

Perhaps more to do with the style of writing than the story (or what I perceived as a lack of story) itself. For me the only redeeming feature about The Burial was the picturesque descriptions of the outback.

Narrated by Jessie's dead child, a child, murdered by his mother, who in the dirt discovered they had eyes to see and ears to hear, that they could see and hear beyond logical distance and time. Doubtlessly something that some readers will find quirky. Personally I found it a little disconcerting and not something that worked well.

With no speech marks (my English teacher would have been apoplectic), any speech was denoted by the use of italics. Once again, something some readers will not mind but I found Annoying. Annoying and yet oddly enough not nearly as annoying as that the character Jack Brown (despite there being no other Jack in the story) was always referred to as Jack Brown rather than just Jack.

With two protagonists, Jessie herself and Jack (or should I make that Jack Brown?), the events shifting between Jessie's past and present as the story unfolds, sadly I was left feeling oddly disconnected with not only the events but, worse still, the very characters themselves.

A 'Western' with a difference if you will. The Burial could have been a wonderfully poignant tale of the brutality of one woman's life in 1920's Australia and yet when all is said and done I'm afraid it simply wasn't a novel to my taste.

This post first appeared on Pen And Paper, please read the originial post: here

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