Review Blog

Sep 11 2008

Black Water by David Metzenthen

cover image

Read by David Tredinnick. Louis Braille Audio, 2007. 8 CDs, 9 hrs.
Penguin, 2007.
(Age 12+) Set on the coast of Queenscliff near Melbourne, Metzenthen tells the story of two country boys during the dark days of World War 1. Danny has joined the army and is fighting the Turks at Gallipoli, while Farren works at the local pub. When their father drowns at sea, Farren is left with the family fishing boat and the news that his brother is in a hospital in Melbourne, crippled and disfigured from his war wounds. When Danny comes home, affected by what he had experienced at Gallipoli, he is unable to face the townspeople and stays isolated in his home on the island until one night he rescues Souki, a young girl washed up from a shipwreck.

This is a beautifully crafted story that works on many levels. Metzenthen explores the horror of war and the expectation that all men should serve as soldiers, the hollow feelings of grief when a parent dies and the warmth of a caring community. David Tredinnick's reading brings an extra resonance to an already wonderful story. His deep rich voice captures the life of the Fox family, the allure and danger of the sea and the tight knit fishing community where they live. The excitement of the boat race between rivals is brought to life and the listener can easily imagine the taunts and boasts of the warring fishermen.

Tredinnick has a lovely voice that is very easy to listen to, and his portrayal of the male characters is wonderful. He changes the nuance of his voice so that the listener instantly knows who is speaking and is able to gain a clear image of the nature of the different characters.

This audio edition of the CBCA Honour book would be a useful addition to the library and would be helpful as an adjunct to a class set.
Pat Pledger

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