Sunday, December 16, 2012

The gift of speed

In The gift of speed, Steven Carroll has written a book about ordinary people living in a Melbourne suburb in the summer of 1960 - 1961. The time period covers the visit of the West Indies Cricket Team to Australia.  In fact cricket is a major feature of the story-line. Michael is a bowler. He is happiest when he has a ball in his hand, when he is bowling the ball against the palings of the back fence, when he is practising or playing cricket. His aim is to increase the speed at which he bowls, to perfect the speed of his bowling. In parallel we learn of the progress of the West Indies team as they travel throughout Australia, the impact of the test matches on Australians - particularly the tied test in Brisbane - the pressure on Frank Worrell as the first appointed black West Indies captain. It is also a story about a marriage and family life. Throughout the book we also view the thoughts of Rita, Michael's mother, as she considers leaving her husband, the thoughts and actions of Vic, Michael's father, as he loses himself in playing golf but also considers leaving home, the thoughts of Victor's mother as she approaches death. The book captures a time in the life of a suburban family. The edition I read had notes for discussion at the end of the book plus links to websites providing further information about issues mentioned in the story.

This is the second book in a trilogy. The first is The art of the engine driver and the third is The time we have taken. It can, however, be read as a stand alone book.

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