I’m so excited to be able to show you these: the covers (left – UK, right – Australia) of my first book, Thicker Than Water, which will be published next year by Harper Collins’ non-fiction strand William Collins. I hope you like them!
A compelling and beautifully written memoir about dark and shameful family secrets, and one young Scottish woman’s pilgrimage to Australia to attempt to lay the past to rest. Cal Flyn was holidaying in her childhood home in the Scottish Highlands when she stumbled upon a dark family secret. To her horror, she discovered that her great-great-great uncle Angus McMillan, who had been mythologized as a great explorer and pioneer of early Australia, was in fact also the leader of a number of gruesome massacres of indigenous people.
In 1843 he led a loosely formed ‘Highland brigade’ which were responsible for a series of assaults so ferocious that the sites would ever after be synonymous with bloodshed: Butchers Creek, Boney Point, Skull Creek, Slaughterhouse Gully. Angus McMillan, she learns, is known by another name: the Butcher of Gippsland. Driven to piece together his story and to confront her own history, Flyn decided to retrace McMillan’s journey, looking for answers: How could a man lauded for his generosity and integrity commit such terrible acts? How could a man who had witnessed the misery of Highlanders cleared from their lands travel to the other side of the world to massacre and ‘clear’ the indigenous people he encountered? What have been the long-term consequences of his actions? And has today’s generation inherited a responsibility to atone for its ancestors’ sins?
THICKER THAN WATER, like THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES, is part family memoir, part travelogue, part history – and an intimate, revealing and fascinating journey into the past. Her book evokes the startlingly beautiful wilderness of the Highlands, the seemingly empty bush of Victoria and the echoes and reverberations on one from the other. Delving into a dark period in history with a novel’s immediate style, this book asks how whole societies can come to be overlooked, forgotten and shamed. Cal Flyn has written a wholly compelling and clear-eyed examination of the burden of intergenerational grief and inherited guilt that we all carry with us.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers