Cover Image: Preservation

Preservation

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Member Reviews

This novel is a riveting mystery, set against the background of early colonial Australia.

Told mainly as a series of flashbacks, which tell the tale of mis-doing and murder in India and Australia, this is a well crafted, but easy read, which leaves a mystery afloat until the last chapter.

The background of the indigenous lives, and that of the early European settlers is vivid and feels realistic in it's descriptions, and does take you back in time.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel.
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I loved the cover image for this book, cover images are the first thing I look for.  After reading the description I knew this was a book for me.  Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it and it's difficult to put my finger on why.  The characters were well developed and interesting as well as the story but I guess it just wasn't for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an E-ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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This is one of those books that's been on my radar but I've resisted to add to my TBR because I just wasn't sure whether it's something I'd like. I ended up reading it to fulfil a reading challenge, of course, like so many of my reads and... I really quite enjoyed it.

Preservation has the flavour of a psychological thriller set in Colonial Australia. I'm not usually a fan of psychological thrillers - they frighten me somewhat but this novel is not quite the norm. It is inspired and/or based on a true historical event. One which I was not at all familiar with... I've just read the Wikipedia entry and the major plotline followed that but since not much else is known, the author really did have a lot of room to play with.

The first few chapters were a bit strange because this story is told through multiple point-of-views and as usual, this takes some getting used to. Each perspective is unique and wide-ranging (the perpetrator, the accomplice, the witness, the investigator and sidekick) so we have a very nearly well-rounded view of the case. For this novel is rather like a case study of a crime with some sprinkling of historical and personal interests to engage the reader.

Thanks to Text Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review
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A vivid and highly original historical novel set in the early days of European colonisation of Australia, Preservation is based on the true story of the disappearance of a number of passengers twice shipwrecked on their way to New South Wales. This is strong stuff, with a main character whose true nature becomes more horrifyingly obvious as the story progresses. There's more than a hint of Heart of Darkness here, and, rightly, the horror comes from the Europeans' views, and exploitation, of other people as much as of the land they 'conquer'.
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, I really liked the historical mystery novel and I really liked a the characters in this book. The world building was great and I really loved reading this book.
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I book unlike any other I have read, that being said I don't think this book was for me. Let's put it down to personal taste.
The plot was promising and the characters were brilliantly formed. It did take some time to get to grips with the writing style and the jumping chapters, but once I got used to it I really enjoyed it the multiple points of view, it added a great deal of variety to the story. 

Good read, just not for me
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This is a fictional version of the plight of ship, Sidney Cove.  Unfortunately I hadn't realised that the symbol at the beginning of each chapter denoted who was telling his part in the story, so the first  part of the book was extremely confusing.  I even considered giving up on the book.  Having laboured through the three survivors stories, the book suddenly jumps without giving any explanation as to why no charges were brought.  The historical note at the end was extremely brief.  It is interesting to know which parts were fact and which were  fiction.  One of the three survivors was called Bennet whereas in the book, he was a murderer called Figge.  Embellishing the facts is part of the author's art but I felt this was too much and unnecessary.  A disappointing book.
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Thrilling story with a great plot, highly recommend to fans of this genre.  A must read!!  Great characters that keep you guessing til the end.
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Preservation is a strong book about courage, treachery, and family. 
Set in 18th century Australia, this story of survival is well written, with fully developed characters, and intense imagery. The switches in POV were well done, and appropriately chosen for their points in the story. An excellent read over all.
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4 and 1 / 2 stars

It is 1797 in the new settlement of Sydney when three bedraggled and injured men arrive in the area. This is their story. 

The ship upon which the journey was undertaken was purchased and renamed the Sydney Cove. It left Calcutta with several people and a cargo primarily of rum and set out for Sydney, Van Dieman's Land (now known as Australia). The manager of the company that owns the ship is William Clark. He is the somewhat dissolute nephew of a shipping family who has come to Calcutta to “make his fortune.” However he sets about spending money to such a degree that he runs this previously profitable company on the rocks. He decides to take one last gamble in this latest scheme – rum running. Also on board is a shipment of tea. John Figge the tea merchant – or is he?

When three survivors of the shipwreck of the Sydney Cove wander into Sydney, Lieutenant Joshua Grayling is assigned by Governor Hunter to question three survivors who claim they walked some 550 miles from the site of the wreck. They claim to have left the wreck with fourteen others whom they left some miles back. They repaired a longboat from the wrecked ship on a little island they named Preservation. When the seventeen headed for Sydney, they left thirty-two men behind on Preservation. 

When Grayling first questions Figge, he gets a mercurial response for the man seems both calm and irritable at the same time. Something about the man badly bothers him. Then Clark begins to tell Grayling his story all the while cleaning up his part in the voyage. 

Then there is Srinivas who is a sixteen-year old lascar, or manservant, who apparently doesn't speak English. But wait...does he?

Grayling develops a sharp suspicion that Clark and Figge are not telling the truth of their long walk. Clark is a liar and perhaps worse, Figge is a very bad man who the reader loves to hate. 

This is a very well written and plotted novel. It was a little difficult to follow at first for it switched points of view without notice and I had to read a little to discover who was speaking. I was fascinated by the story that is based on a true event. Mr. Serong admits that he had to fill in a little of what might have happened with conjecture of his own, but I feel that he did a very fine job. I was a little disappointed to discover that the reader did not learn more about Mr. Figge's origins. But Mr. Serong summed it up well when he said that, “Sooner or later, the land does everyone in.” I can only hope so. Mmmm, must be still pretty wrapped up in the story. This is my first Jack Serong novel, but it won't be my last. I immediately went to Amazon to look for others books by this author. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Text Publishing/Text Publishing Company for forwarding to me a copy of this absolutely fascinating and entrancing book fir me to read, enjoy and review.
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Preservation is the fourth novel by Award-winning Australian author, Jock Serong. From the archive of a newspaper named The Asiatic Mirror, we know that a tri-masted country trader, the Sydney Cove, filled with goods including quite a lot of rum, left Calcutta in November of 1796, headed for New South Wales on a speculative venture, and was wrecked on Preservation Island in Bass Strait in early 1797. One of those on board, William Clark wrote an incomplete diary, extracts of which were quoted in said newspaper. Serong takes the bare bones of these facts and fleshes them out.

After the wrecking, seventeen men take the longboat, intending to reach Sydney and initiate a rescue of the remaining crew and salvage of the rum cargo. Mere days later this boat, too, is wrecked, and the men, with what goods they have been able to recover, head on foot for Sydney, some five hundred and fifty miles. Not quite three months later, three survivors are picked up by a fishing boat just south of Sydney. 

On Governor Hunter’s instruction, Lieutenant Joshua Grayling questions two of the survivors: William Clark, who is supercargo for the shipping company; and Mr Figge, who purports to be a representative of a tea merchant. Srinivas, a Bengali lascar, is Clark’s manservant and assumed to speak no English. Charlotte Grayling listens to her husband’s account of the interrogation of the survivors, asking pertinent questions and offering insightful observations. Each of these five distinct narratives is denoted by its own apt icon both at each start and beside the page count.

It soon becomes apparent that each of these survivors is not being entirely forthcoming, and that Clark’s journal does not give the full facts, even where the facts recorded are actually true. What they are hiding, and why, becomes the object of Grayling’s interviews with the men.

Serong’s characters are much more than one-dimensional, and he gives some of them perceptive reflections: “…not only do they have the run of the land, the miles that might stretch between one man and another, but they put their homes where they want them for the seasons. To be rich, I had thought until then, was a walled place. But now I wondered if being rich meant not needing the wall.” Serong’s depiction of the attitudes of the white settlers to the indigenous people is realistic.

Serong states in his Author’s Note “Perhaps all of this is history, and none of it” so the reader will understand that not all the of the story that follows may align strictly with known facts. But his imagining is both fascinating and eminently believable. He includes three very useful maps and the depth of his research is apparent on every page. Once again, an utterly brilliant read!
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing
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