“Jeremy Kane: A Canadian Historical Adventure Novel Of The 1837 Mackenzie Rebellion And Its Brutal Aftermath In The Australian Penal Colonies.”
A young Ontario rebel's adventures in love, politics, and war, amidst violent events that helped shape Canada's early nationhood. Romantically involved with two beautiful -- and very different -- young sisters, Jeremy is caught up in the 1837 Mackenzie Rebellion, its ruthless suppression, and the deportation of 100 Canadian rebels and American sympathizers to the brutal penal colonies of Australia. There, he endures the hell of convict chain-gangs, tribal savagery, magnificent wilderness, unselfish devotion, and eventual triumph of the human spirit.
Colonial intrigue, battlefields, sensuality, harsh prison-camps, and primitive aboriginal life are described with unblinking realism. Mixing actual history with fast-paced story-telling, filled with colorful characters and period detail, Jeremy Kane is a masterful re-creation of 19th Century Canada and Australia's untamed Outback, combining an unforgettable love story with a saga of courage, and triumph of the human. [Maps and illustrations.]
Review by Brig. Maurice Tugwell.
This is a Big book. Big in its geographical scope and its extraordinary capacity to bring alive the Canada and Australia of the 1830s, and the author's ability to spin his compelling story through the words, deeds and thoughts of his main character.
Yes, Kane is the hero, yet so completely is he submerged in the actual events that overtake him, that we accept the man as every bit as real as the true-life governors, colonels, rebel leaders, and jailors he meets. This is the art of historical fiction, and Sidney Allinson has it in spades.
Without once distorting or overstating the often terrifying events and conditions that confront Kane and his fellows, the author breathes life into a fascinating period of history about which all too little is understood.
We meet Jeremy Kane during the heady days that led up to the Mackenzie Rebellion in colonial Upper Canada - today's Ontario. Reformist and populist, the rebellion was led by the crabby old Scot whose name commemorates it. The trusting and rather unworldly young Kane supports Mackenzie as an act of patriotism. Canada is being misgoverned by the 'Family Compact' of local shysters, and the lackadaisical British do nothing about it.
The insurrection comes and goes, the rebels are scattered, captured, or killed, and Kane is saved from the gallows only to be deported with one hundred others to a penal colony on Tasmania, off the coast of Australia. It is hard to credit that conditions such as Kane encounters in this book existed only 160 years ago: the plague-ridden convict ships, chain-gangs, and sadistic torture prisons .
This is not light reading, but you'll keep the pages turning, believe me. Still there is hope. Hope that transcends rational calculation and imbues the convicts with the will to survive. This can take one form only: escape. And when the terrors of the sea have been vanquished, there are the horrors of cannibalism in a land so vast and forbidding that the chances of survival shrink daily until, after all manner of adventures, Jeremy Kane, alone, proves that hope reinforced by straight thinking and determination pays off.
For this reader, it was the story with its myriad characters, their encounters with danger, and the impact of events on character development that held me.
As for Australia, the author dares to defy political correctness by describing aboriginal life, warts and all, an important corrective to the myth that such societies enjoyed some kind of Golden Age until this was overturned by newcomers. Whatever your interests, read Jeremy Kane and enjoy.
-- Brig. Gen. Maurice Tugwell (rtd),
Director,Centre for Conflict Studies,
University of New Brunswick, Canada.