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The Rat Catcher : a love story - Kim Kelly

The Rat Catcher

a love story

By: Kim Kelly

Paperback | 5 April 2022

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In the sweltering summer of 1900, young wharf labourer Patrick O’Reilly is down on his luck in the slums of Sydney and homesick for Tralee. When a deadly outbreak of plague descends on the city, O’Reilly’s daydreaming mind is miles away – in the golden hair and kindly, confident air of a girl called Rosie Hughes.

Just as he’s wondering why any girl would want a no-hoper like him, opportunity knocks with the offer of a job as a rat catcher working for the city’s Plague Department, containing the spread of disease. But the job will bring him a lot more than a pay rise and a swift education on traps and poisons.

In the Public Lending Library, on the top floor of the Queen Victoria Building, above the bustling centre of Sydney, he comes face-to-face with a legendary rat called Old Scratch who will change the way he understands himself and the world forever.

About the Author

Kim Kelly is the author of eleven novels, including the acclaimed Wild Chicory and bestselling The Blue Mile. With distinctive warmth and lyrical charm, her stories explore Australia, its history, politics and people. Her work has gained shortlistings in The Hope Prize and Australia’s premier short novel award, Viva la Novella. A long-time book editor and sometime reviewer, Kim is a dedicated narrative addict and lover of true love. In fact, she takes love so seriously she once donated a kidney to her husband to prove it, and also to save his life.

Originally from Sydney, today Kim lives in central New South Wales, on Wiradjuri country, with her muse de bloke, two cats and some chickens, and occasionally the kids when they come home to graze.
Industry Reviews
'Drawn from Kim Kelly’s own trove of Irish-Australian family lore, The Rat Catcher is a mischievous, fast-paced fable told with her trademark compassion, a sharp eye on the epic in the ordinary, and an irrepressible love for life, in all its marvellous forms."

‘A charming tale, told with sparkling humour reminiscent of Peter Carey, and a biting commentary on poverty, too – on who bears the costs of plague in pre-federation Sydney.’ – Alison Booth

‘Kim Kelly has captured the eccentricities, poverty and hardships of the tenement and slum dwellers of those times with a deft and respectful touch. The Rat Catcher is a story of hope, love and kindness during the hardest of times. It will charm you, intrigue you and make you smile.’” Mary-Lou Stephens, author of The Last of the Apple Blossom (HarperCollins 2021)

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