He had started out white. No question. When he fell in with the blacks -- at thirteen, was it? -- he had been like any other child, one of their own for instance. (That was hard to swallow.) But had he remained white?But Remembering Babylon isn't so much Gemmy's story as everyone else's. Janet, Meg, and Lachlan are forever changed after finding Gemmy. Several settlers actively work to oust Gemmy, showing their true selves and straining Jock and Ellen McIvor's relations with them. And just beyond the hubbub lives Mrs. Hutchence, an eccentric woman who offers love and kindness to everyone she meets. Malouf introduced every type of character imaginable: angry, bigoted settlers, a young schoolmaster, a preacher nearing the end of his career, etc. Most were not as well-developed as the McIvor family, and after a while I found the frequent new faces a distraction. The ending was also strange, jumping ahead in time while leaving a number of loose ends back in the 19th century. Still, this was a worthwhile read, an interesting study of human nature, set in a historic period I enjoy reading about.
They looked at their children, even the smallest of them chattering away, entirely at home in their tongue, then heard the mere half-dozen words of English this fellow could cough up, and even those so mismanaged and distorted you could barely guess what he was on about, and you had to put to yourself the harder question. Could you lose it? Not just language, but it. It.
For the fact was, when you looked at him sometimes he was not white. His skin might be but not his features. The whole cast of his face gave him the look of one of Them. How was that, then? (p.40)
Cross-posted from my blog