Alone on a wide wide sea

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Michael Morpurgo
HarperCollins Children's Books
Sep 2006
�We were brought up to know our duty. �Suffer little children to come unto me,� the good Lord said. So we are doing his will, and this we shall train you to do as well. A child is born sinful and must be bent to the will of God. That is now our task.�

Taking its title from �The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner�, Michael Morpurgo�s latest novel focuses on an autobiographical account of Arthur Hobhouse, a man who relates his boyhood but who is unable to provide the beginning to these story for his story remains incomplete at the time when he writes.

With little more than a vague memory of a sister called Kitty, Arthur Hobhouse�s voyage from childhood to a period of forced responsibility to secure his development and future begins. He journeys by ship from Liverpool to Australia to begin a new life.

On arrival in Australia, Arthur is taken to the farmstead of Mr Bacon, a religious fanatic whose fervent faith and the unquestioning nature of his own righteousness makes for a prohibitive and highly volatile environment against which Arthur and his friend Marty grow up.

After eventual escape, the boys are saved from severe dehydration and starvation by Aborigines. Touching scenes arise whereby despite language and cultural barriers, the boys befriend the Aboriginal children and are able to play with them.

Through a series of successes and saddening tragedies, readers follow Arthur�s life to adulthood and to eventual death. A shift in perspective sees his daughter, Allie, take up the narrative and indeed the challenge to learn more about her father�s origins in a voyage of great personal and familial discover.

Perhaps Morpurgo�s most powerful writing in the past, and indeed within this book, arises from a justifiable moral anger and outrage at situations that preclude the �natural� development of the child. In a cultural climate that has begun to openly question the effects modern society has upon �the child�, exemplified in Sue Palmer�s �Toxic Childhood�, this is a timely and thought provoking novel highlighting the plight of child migration.

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This page contains a single entry by Jacob published on November 20, 2006 8:53 PM.

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