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Endurance

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This is a debut novel like no other. Tim Griffiths, a man with a long interest in the extraordinary life of Frank Hurley, has written this true tale as a novel. Sometimes it works well, and sometimes it doesn’t, as the detail gets in the way of the action, needed to move a nail-biting story ahead. Frank Hurley? He was a photographer attached to two expeditions into the Antarctic Douglas Mawson and Sir Ernest Shackleton, and after that he risked his life, yet again, photographing the horrific events on the Western Front from 1917. Another Australian who should be better known by the general public. One of his marvellous images is well known and it features on the dust jacket. It is the ship Endurance, trapped in ice, and later abandoned by Shackleton, his fellow scientists, the crew, and their photographer. As I read of this man’s powers of endurance, and of his devotion to his craft, I wanted photographs proving his enormous contributions capturing the events as they unfolded. They cannot be included, because this is, after all, a novel, not a biography. Finally I discovered I preferred the latter, though through Hurley’s own words and recollections grafted into the novel, I enjoyed the narrative as well. Griffi ths writes in the first person, so the reader is inside Frank Hurley’s head, moving from an under-educated youth, to a man of real substance, whose gifts were recognized in subsequent lecture tours around Australia. There was controversy about some of the World War 1 shots, as people away from the battle front did not wish to acknowledge what was truly happening. His philosophy is summed up by the author in the last sentence of the Epilogue “I have become very used to being opposed. After all, life is one long call to conflict.” Anyone interested in conflict, against the elements, or against an enemy, will fi nd this work well worth reading, even though sometimes it is somewhat tedious as the exploration of the frozen continent is repetitive and agonizingly slow. To have lived it must have been exactly the same.

ENDURANCE

by TIM GRIFFITHS

PUBLISHED by ALLEN & UNWIN

for a recommended $29.99

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