Alan Marshall, Whispering in the Wind, Text Publishing, September 2018, 240 pp., RRP $12.95 (pbk), ISBN
If quirky could be personified in a book, I think Whispering in the Wind would be it.
This is in essence a fairy tale, with modern (that is, 1969) Australia mixed in with the usual fairy tale elements.
Peter is our intrepid hero out to find a princess to save – as most heroes in our fairy tales do. He sets out on his white pony, Moonlight, and finds the South Wind willing to give him directions and a pouch with some magical leaves. Very soon, Greyfur, a kangaroo with a pouch in which she literally can find anything, becomes his companion on this quest.
Together they set off to find a princess to save and find themselves encountering all manner of obstacles, including a giant. Armed with his magical pouch and Greyfur, Peter overcomes them all to find his princess, and soon enough Peter is facing three challenges to marry the most down-to-earth princess there is.
The beauty of this story in a unique mix of magical and practical story elements, all with a clearly Australian flavour. This is my first book by Marshall, and I appreciate his whimsical writing and humour that brought to life his version of an Australian fairy tale.
One thing I need to mention is that as with all classics, you run the risk of finding elements that are entirely at odds with the contemporary society we all live in. In this case, a young girl who doesn’t want any freckles any more because her mother keeps commenting how much of a pity it is that she has freckles, or the young boy who wants to be an artist, but his father keeps saying only ‘queer’ people are artists.
Does it detract from the story? For me it did. This book is a product of its time, but I can’t deny this is filled with beautiful writing. However, every reader is different.
Reviewed by Verushka Byrow