After eight years abroad, Rowland Sinclair has come home
to a house he hates, and a city which seems conservative
… and dull.
He longs to return to the bright lights of Europe.
Until an old friend persuades him to join Sydney Art School.
There, under the tutelage of the renowned Julian Ashton, Rowland learns to paint and finds himself drawn into the avant-garde world of Sydney’s artistic set.
But murder rears its ugly head and Rowland must decide who his friends really are.
This book can be (legally!) downloaded for free here:
When you come across a really well-written piece of historical fiction, you realise how superficially “historical” some of your reads have been.
Author Sulari Gentill captures late 1920s (and the 1930s in her later books) Australia in way that makes you really feel as if you’re there. It’s honestly not an era I’m all that familiar with, even though it is the decade all of my grandparents were born in (but seeing as half of them were born in Ukraine…).
This story is apparently a “gift” from the author to the fans of her Rowland Sinclair series that mixes crime with politics and people in a transitional era for the world. It takes place before the series proper begins, and if I was familiar with these characters beforehand I think this would have been great fun to read. Not that I didn’t really enjoy it, but there’s nothing better than a strong author writing backstories for established, favourite characters.
I really appreciated the dialogue and the interactions between the people involved. To me, at least, I find the 1920s and 30s the period of time between “the past” and the “modern” world, and I think that is captured perfectly here. It’s an old, different era, but the contemporary one is beginning to emerge.
I get the impression from other reviews that this novella is not as heavy on the crime as some of the full length books are, but this wasn’t a problem for me as I went into it with no expectations. Gentill clearly knows how to construct a story so that it builds and builds.
I will have to seek out more instalments in this series, especially as they take place in areas familiar to me. So often I read historical fiction set overseas, and this was an interesting change.