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Margaret Visciglio / Only Two Letters in Orroroo

  • Margaret Visciglio / Only Two Letters in Orroroo
In 1892, the people of Orroroo asked Sir Charles Todd, head of the Posts and Telegraphs Department, whether a postal service could be provided at Orroroo. Facetiously, he replied that a post office wouldn’t be necessary as there would only ever be two letters in Orroroo. Only Two Letters in Orrorroo proves Todd wrong. During World War Two, many letters arrive in Orroroo as Rose Walsh, mother of seven children and stepmother of two, housekeeper and lover of sheep farmer Pask, receives mail from the various theatres of war to which her family is posted. Australia is at war; the Japanese relentlessly advance south. When Fortress Singapore falls and Darwin is bombed, fear grips the Australian nation. The letter Rose’s son Harry, a policeman in Darwin, writes after the town is bombed cannot be sent. All communication from Darwin is closed lest the nation panic. But Harry needs to tell his mum what has happened. He writes words she will never read. Other letters come from the Middle East, from London, from Paris, Germany and New Guinea, bearing news of both the senders and of the conflicts in which the writers are involved. The novel’s theme is dark but there are flashes of light and humour. Rose, not always a reliable witness, is unwilling to accept defeat. She will, with the use of kerosene, optimism and fruit cake, win most battles. Much of the story takes place in Australia. It opens in Norwood at Rose’s family home, when Rose receives a telegram announcing the death of her son Brian, fighting with the AIF at the Battle of Bardia in the Middle East. A flashback takes the tale to the Umpherston Cave at Mount Gambier where Rose’s putative grandson is born, but most of the Australian sequences take place at Orroroo, where the drought that plagued Australia during the war years rages. Only Two Letters in Orroroo is not a war novel; it is an anti-war novel. I have attempted to tell the history of the war years from the Australian point of view, but this is a work of fiction. I decided to write it because some younger people are unaware of events that took place in our recent past. And yet, I wanted to show the indomitable hope that lives in all of us.
978 1 76109 084 4, 292pp




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