Kate Constable’s latest novel, Crow Country, encompasses time-slip adventures and Australian Indigenous history with the over riding theme of doing the right thing, and correcting mistakes.
“A Crow’s breath, a story and a girl’s dream”
Crow Country opens from the crow’s vision – he spies Sadie “a human girl-child” and notes the girl stalking along a path, eyes down and oblivious to the country around her. Sadie has just moved to Boort the place of her mother’s childhood. She had no choice. She doesn’t want to be here. Crow, the totem of the Dja Dja Wurrung, has other plans for he knows there is a reason for her being here – a story, a riddle, wrongs to be put right – he has work for Sadie to complete.
Constable effortlessly portrays ten year old Sadie with searing honesty. Her relationship with her mother is complex and revealing whilst demonstrating the author’s enviable ability to put herself in the shoes of a young girl.
Whilst this relationship simmers in the background the central storyline of Crow Country involves Sadie’s unravelling of the town’s past. Led by crow to correct a grave injustice from the past, Sadie finds herself slipping back in to history, to the 1920’s, where she finds herself in the life of Sarah Louise caught up in a tragic event. Parallels are drawn with the present day via Lachie in particular due to his disrespectful attitude towards Indigenous history and rights. The manner in which this conflict is worked out and reconciled is a highlight of the novel.
Constable’s interweaving of Australian Indigenous spirituality, specifically that of the Dja Dja Wurrung Yung Balug Clan is what really sets this novel apart for My Book Corner. Through probing attitudes and exploring the cultural background of Boort, Constable has truly brought this narrative to life. She harnesses both respect and enthusiasm in Australian history for a new generation.