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Review by J. B. ANDERSON, February 2011. – In this historical novel the great Burra Burra copper mine of South Australia provides the background for the struggles of a Cornish miner Yestin Tregarthy and his wife Charlotte, who emigrated from Cornwall and its worked out mines in 1836. The reader is treated to their adventures at a mining camp in the Outback, with all the dangers of pick and shovel mining, collapsing mine shafts, and flooded tunnels, along with miserable living conditions. But the real story is that of a man’s greatest fear, the loss of his wife’s respect, and a woman’s greatest fear, the loss of her husband’s love. Yestin is too often called a ‘gommock’ – a Cornish word for a fool – by Charlotte, and Charlotte is too often ignored by Yestin. Their parting is most dramatic. The novel provides remarkable views of the life of immigrants in 19th-century Australia. One gets interesting lessons in copper mining and learns more than a few Cornish words. The story is related by the daughter Effie, who comes of age in the mining camp, and witnesses her parents’ struggles. In the end, Effie sums up her father’s life: “He had his sturt of luck and found (in his words) ‘where the riches hide theirselves’.” Effie could say the same for her mother’s life. In all…an interesting and exciting read! 

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