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Tommo & Hawk - Bryce Courtenay

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Published: June 2006
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Bryce Courtenay has created an unforgettable story of the enduring bond between two brothers.

Brutally kidnapped and separated in childhood, Tommo and Hawk are reunited at the age of fifteen in Hobart Town. Together they escape their troubled pasts and set off on a journey into manhood. From whale hunting in the Pacific to the Maori wars of New Zealand, from the Rocks in Sydney to the miners' riots in the goldfields, Tommo and Hawk must learn each other's strengths and weaknesses in order to survive.

Along the way, Hawk meets the outrageous Maggie Pye, who brings love and laughter into his life. But the demons of Tommo's past return to haunt the brothers. With Tommo at his side, Hawk takes on a fight against all odds to save what they cherish most.

An epic tale of adventure and romance from Australia's bestselling author.

'Tommo & Hawk is blockbuster material … It is impossible not to be impressed by Courtenay's talents. He is a superb storyteller.' Sunday Times (UK) 

'The novel is not just concerned with the hurdy-gurdy of history, but the ageless condition of mankind … it is cannily crafted.' Sunday Age

About the Author

Bryce Courtenay was born in South Africa and has lived in Sydney for the major part of his life. Bryce Courtenay is the bestselling author of The Power of One, April Fool's Day, The Potato Factory, Solomon's Song, Jessica, Smoky Joe's Cafe, Four Fires, Whitethorn and Brother Fish.

It never changes, one fear begets another, but it's always the same fear. The same small brat in you facing the same mongrels. Once fear gets a hold of you, you can't trust no one no more, not even yourself, 'cause you know they be right – all you be is dog shit, and all they wants to do is bugger you so you never forgets what you is.

I got to drink down fast, get a few into me. Brother Hawk don't countenance me staying on no matter how much I plead at him to let me be. I'm not afraid of Hawk, Just of Hawk coming. I'm afraid of Mary. Of Sunday dinner. Of meself.

'Mr Brodie, sir! Another snort o' acquadine!' I hold up me last shilling, won yesterday at euchre. Got to find a game today, but it ain't so easy on the Sabbath. 'Ere!' I twist the silver coin to catch the lamplight. 'I got the money, now quick, Mr Brodie, if you please!'

Brodie shuffles over, sniffing, stepping over bodies, spilling some of me precious tot. He grins toothless and puts the little glass down. 'There ya go, Tommo.' He grabs up me shilling in dirty woollen mittens what's got no fingers. Then he holds up sixpence change he has ready in his other hand. 'Shall I fetch t'other half then?' He twinkles the sixpence.

'Why not? I got to go soon. Bring it right off, will ya?' I nods.

Brodie smiles, a smarmy smile on his ugly gob, like he don't believe me and he makes a fuss of fumbling at the front of his waistcoat, pushing the sixpence back into a greasy pocket, his dirty fingers dancing like spider's legs over his pot belly.

The acquadine don't hit as hard as it should. Barely tickles me throat. Bastard's watered it down, doused the fire in it to make it last longer, though it's better than the Cape of Good Hope brandy he serves to most of his Sunday drunks. More like Cape of No Bloody Hope, all the good hope in it watered down to make a gallon of misery out of half a pint of trooper's joy.

Don't suppose I blames him, human nature being what it is. Fair enough, I reckon, the pubs are closed Sunday, so we're in his hands, ain't we? He's got us drunks all to himself. Brodie milking a few more pennies from the slops of Saturday night's barrel and charging us double for the privilege. Daresay I'd do the same. Can't feel too sorry for a Sunday drunk, can ya?

The sun should be well up by now, if it ain't raining outside. That be Hobart Town all right, sunshine, then rain, snow, hot, cold, calm and blow, all in the course of the same morning. Not that I mind, used to it, the wilderness be mostly rain and wind and bone-snapping cold. It could be nearly noon, though who'd know here in the oil lantern darkness. The shadows be the same now as if it be always midnight in the world.

I comes in early, not much past dawn, with the mist still hanging on the river. Birds just beginning t' chitter, currawong, kookaburra, green rosella calling and silver gulls wheeling. They be the early risers and the noisy buggers. Then come the little uns, scrub tit, scarlet robin, yellow wattlebird and blue wren, kipping in a bit, then starting to talk with the sun. Tide coming in, slapping, spiffing and spurning on Salamanca beach. I couldn't sleep no more, even though I were sozzled last night and should've been well able. But me restlessness is getting worse. Time to move on. Hawk knows I ain't gunna stay in Hobart Town now he's back from England. But he still talks of us joining Mary, of being a proper family again and doing brewery work up at Strickland Falls. 'It would be our fortune made, Tommo!' he reckons.

Ha bloody ha! A fortune in me hands would be poured down me throat, or lost at the dogs and horses. Can't make a copper penny stay long enough in me pocket to even gather warmth.

Hawk'll be here soon. Silent, bending double to get through the door, a great dark shadow hunched over, his head bumping against the rafters. Him so black the lamplight don't show nothing but the whites of his eyes, the silver sheen of the scar on his neck, and the shine on his nails where he holds his fingers to his nose. A nigger for me brother though I be as white as one o' Mary's best Sunday tablecloths. Hawk be twice my size too though we be born of the same mama. Different from the start, Mary reckons, from the day she set eyes on us, two mewlin' orphans in a basket. Even more different now. Hawk wouldn't be caught dead down here if it weren't for yours truly, even the stink's too bad for his well-raised nose.

But I don't smell nothin' no more. Don't take no notice. Not even of the farts from the drunks lying at me feet or curled up in the dark corners, snorting bubbles in their spew or seeing things terrifying what ain't there.

Reckon that'll happen to me soon enough. A few more years on the grog, then some mongrel like Brodie'll add too much acid to give a kick to his watered down spirits and that'll be the end of dear little Tommo. Over I topples, a nicely pickled feed o' flesh for the waiting worms. Or it'll be the horrors. I seen it happen to some younger than me, holding their ears and closing their eyes and screaming for the snakes to be took away. You'd think I'd be shitting meself. But I ain't. Truth be, I'm more scared of Hawk coming to fetch me to Mary's Sunday roast! More feared about sitting at her clean white tablecloth and chewing through a plate o' mutton with Mary's green eyes watching on me, so's I want to jump up and make for the door and keep running until I don't feel the disappointment in her eyes no more.
Bryce Courtenay

Bryce: in his own words...

I was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent my early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

It was a somewhat isolated community and I grew up among farm folk and the African people. At the age of five I was sent to a boarding school which might be better described as a combination orphanage and reform school, where I learned to box - though less as a sport and more as a means to stay alive.

But I survived to return to a small mountain town named Barberton in the North Eastern part of the country.

Here I met Doc, a drunken German music teacher who spent the next few years filling my young mind with the wonders of nature as we roamed the high mountains. His was the best education I was ever to receive, despite the scholarship I won to a prestigious boy's school and thereafter to a university in England where I studied Journalism.

I came to Australia because I was banned from returning to my own country.

This was due to the fact that I had started a weekend school for Africans in the school hall of the prestigious boy's school I attended.

One day the school hall was raided by the police who then branded me a Communist as they considered educating Africans a subversive act.

While studying journalism, I met a wonderful Australian girl.

"Come to my country!" Benita invited.

I did, and soon after arriving in Australia, married her. Benita gave me three splendid sons, Brett, Adam and Damon. Brett, who married Ann has given me three lovely grandsons, Ben now 14, Jake is about to turn 12 and Marcus is almost 6 years old.

I have lived all my Australian life in Sydney (the nicest place on earth) and, until I started writing fiction, made my career in advertising working as a copywriter and creative director.

At the age of 55 I decided to take the plunge. I had been telling stories since the age of five and had always known I would be a writer some day, though life kept getting in the way until I realised that it was either now or never.

Bryce Courtenay died at his home in Canberra, Australia. He was 79. Courtenay is survived by his second wife Christine Gee and his children Adam and Brett.

Visit Bryce Courtenay's Booktopia Author Page


ISBN: 9780143004578
ISBN-10: 0143004573
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 696
Published: June 2006
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.0  x 4.0
Weight (kg): 0.52
Edition Number: 1