The Touch


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Spanning nearly fifty years, from the 1860s through to the turn of the century, THE TOUCH tells the story of Alexander Kinross, who flees from a childhood of poverty in Scotland to make his fortune in the Australian and American goldfields. In the process he meets the women he loves but can never marry - and marries a woman who can never love him. When Alexander Kinross writes home to Scotland for a bride, he is remembered only as a shiftless young boilermaker's apprentice. Since he encloses a draft for one thousand pounds ...

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Dec 9, 2007

Another McCullough success

'The Touch' is another book by the author of 'The Thorn Birds'. It is set in an era, when Australia was still in its formative stages. In this book the main story is about an arranged marriage between a young Scottish girl and Alexander Kinross, who is remembered in his native Scotland as a shiftless apprentice. But Alexander has travelled the world, made money and discovered gold. He is now a respected and very rich Australian citizen and he has given his name to the mining town where he has found gold in large quantities. He decides it's time to get himself a wife of impeachable reputation to provide him with heirs, and sends to Scotland for one. The choice falls on sixteen year old Elizabeth Drummond.
Their marriage doesn't stand under a favourable star even though Elizabeth comes to a life of luxury and riches. Elizabeth is immature and cannot completely let go of her Presbyterian principles. Both are unhappy in the marriage but learn to accept and tolerate the other. Alexander continues to find consolation in the arms of his long-time mistress Ruby, who runs the best hotel in Kinross. After Elizabeth has borne Alexander two daughters, coming close to death each time, their physical relationship ends and they drift into a no-go situation.The oldest daughter is very intelligent, and the youngest one is mentally retarded.
Ruby and Elizabeth become good friends (as far as I am concerned the weakest link in the story, because I wonder if any wife would deliberately cultivate friendship with her husband's mistress, but it's a book after all! .....). Ruby's eight year old son from an affair with an immigrant Chinese prince is sent to England to be educated. When he returns as a handsome and cultivated young man of twenty-five, he is just a few years younger than Elizabeth. The story continues .....
Anyone who is a McCullough fan will enjoy this book. Perhaps it is wrong to expect the expanse and richness of The Thorn Birds in this particular story but it is well worth reading. Like most of Ms. McCullough's books, she has remained true to the background of her native Australia and has tried to show the positive and negative sides of imaginary people who stamped their mark in forming this relatively 'new' continent.

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