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Gregory Day has a way or writing that is like no one else’s, with its hint of magic realism and lyrical, sometimes elaborate style. I find the gentle fey-ness of it warms my soul. 

archipelagoReturned WWII soldier Wes Cress is looking for independent, craggy solitude, and he finds it on weather-battered King Island, Bass Strait.

He’s an underground hero of the battle for Crete, but that’s the very least of what he wants to talk about. And then Wes sees Leonie, the half-feral daughter of a local.

Encouraged to write as a means of pain-relief by local postmaster John Lascelles, Wes starts to put down his wartime memories, starting with the catastrophic British evacuation of Crete, when he was left behind and his baby brother Vern was lost at sea.

As he completes each episode, Wes sends them to Leonie by post, in an odd kind of courtship.

Wes’s story weaves back and forth between a near-mythic Crete and the intimate detail of life on King Island. In both cases, his desolate journey will take him to the realisation that he has found something worth fighting for.

Day’s story is a tender love story set amid the damage wreaked by war and the everyday brutality of families.

The central trio – Wes, Leonie and their postmaster – are all motherless souls, all, in their way, lost at sea.

It’s evocatively written – so richly lyrical it sometimes feels like magic-realism – though sometimes his enthusiasm makes it over-complicated.

This was first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend Magazine. The book was published in July 2015

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