A fascinating, partly true, tale of the tenuous relationship between a whaling community and the killer whales that help them catch their prey, set within hardships of a sparse whaling season in Australia in 1908.
Combining fact with fiction, Barrett tells the tale through the naïve and earnest Mary Davidson, the eldest daughter of the Headsman, whose humorous and surprisingly self-reflective voice guides us through this unknown world as she stumbles through adolescence, crush(es), hardship and pain. There are no attempts to give ready answers to life, and even the history of some of the characters (and the future of others beyond the year of 1908) are left open, giving the the reader much to mull over.
An unusual and endearing book: simultaneously full of a quiet suffering, hopeful yearnings, and indefatigable courage.
Rush Oh! is published by Virago, 368 pages.