A new Peter Carey nove is always a cause for celebration, and this latest one is more so in our own district. Who could not be seduced by this …. “He attested that he had first seen the Jaguar in Lydiard Street outside the Ballarat train station………laid the Jag like a bait so Titch would walk past it on the way to Carig’s Hotel.”? No reader in this area would not want to know more about Titch. That leads on to the rest of the well-drawn characters on this long way from home.
The novel is really in two parts. Learning about the car dealers in Bacchus Marsh in the 50s, then following some of them on the Redex Trial. Redex? The most newsworthy thing that had happened in this wide brown land to do with motor cars, was definitely the Redex Around Australia Reliability Trial.
At the time the media could not get enough of the seemingly idiotic drivers ad navigators who were willing to risk life, limb and car on the gravel roads and dirt tracks available to them in Northern Australia. Titch and his wife, the Bobs, invite a quiz champion, disgraced school teacher to be their navigator and hereby hangs the tale.
There are so many echoes of these past decades which Carey cleverly weaves into his narrative, that this reviewer (who remembers a great deal) found herself watching for the next, knowing it would evoke memories of those extraordinary times.
Like all Peter Carey novels, the reader is challenged, but that is surely part of the charm of this semibiographical work, which takes both author and entranced reader.
A LONG WAY FROM HOME by PETER CAREY PUBLISHED by HAMISH HAMILTON for a recommended $32.99