Monday, September 10, 2018

A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey

The Redex Trial was a brutal car trip in the 1950's.  A total of 6,500 miles through unforgiving terrain, rally teams would fight for the chance to be crowned the winners.  It was a national sport with the drivers becoming national heroes.  Back then, the roads were still not reliable and the drivers had to fight terrain where the roads were mere wisps of dirt, streams had to be forded and supplies were few and far between.  It was an endurance race that could only happen in Australia.

Eager to make their name and fortune, one team set out to make their mark.  Titch Bob is the best car salesman in Australia but that doesn't mean he will be given the prize he covets; a Ford dealership.  His wife, Irene Bob, is a woman who knows what she wants.  She married Titch in part because he was a small, compact man and she knew her babies with him would be easy births.  She is outraged at his inability to get the dealership and is ready to do whatever it takes to help him win, even fight his larger than life father for him.

The Bobs are the drivers on their team, but they turn to their next door neighbor, Willie, Bachhuber, to be their navigator.  Willie has had a hard start to life.  He married young but left his wife in the hospital when their baby was revealed to be another race.  Stunned by that betrayal, he became a teacher but lost that job when his discipline methods came into question.  He was one of the first radio quiz show heroes but lost that job through duplicity.  Twenty-six years old, he jumps at the chance to go along on the Redex quest to see what is next for him.

The team's preparation pays off and soon they are the leaders.  But time and proximity exposes strains.  The Bob's marriage is strained and Willie's past and the secrets hidden there make him prey to a life-changing event.  The Redex Trial will change each of their lives forever.

Peter Carey is one of Australia's foremost novelists.  He is one of only four writers to have won the Booker Prize twice.  One was for Oscar And Lucinda and the other was for The True History Of The Kelly Gang.  In addition, he was won The Miles Franklin Award, Australia's top literary award, three times.  His forte as an author is to develop intriguing characters that characterize the Australian personality and to bring the history of his country into his books and make it approachable to the reader.  This book is recommended to readers of literary fiction.

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