Merry-go-round in the sea by Randolph Stow is an Australian literary classic set in Geraldton during the 1940’s.
The writer was born Julian Randolph Stow on 28 November, 1935. This week we celebrate his birthday with a review of the book.
Merry-go-round in the sea is the story of 6 year old Rob Coram who is living an idyllic childhood in Geraldton, when the war breaks out.
His carefree life begins to change, despite the isolation and the distance from the conflict. His father moves to Perth and his favourite cousin Rick leaves town to join the army. He doesn’t understand what the war means or how it will affect his life.
The writing is memorably vivid: scents, flowers, prickles underfoot all seem so real, and the WA heat shimmers across the paddocks to bring the sense of place authentically alive.
The story is told through the voice of the child. The reader experiences the world of childhood through Rob’s descriptions of school life, being a brother, and hanging out with his friends by the seaside. It is a world of freedom and adventure. It is a world where adults are there, but are not important. We are given vivid descriptions of the Australian landscape and its profound beauty.
We follow Rob through 8 years of his life. His cousin Rick returns from war and is dramatically changed. His relationship to Rob will never be the same.
The book is a deeply moving picture of life in Australia during the 1940’s. The reader is taken into the world as it was. The dialogue is insightful and entertaining as Rob makes his way and reflects on the changes. There are serious themes throughout the book, but it is the world created by Rob Coram that is the heart of the story.
Other books by Randolph Stow
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