Home' Rotary Down Under : February 2014 (NZ Pacific) Contents www.rotarydownunder.org 51
LIFE & LEISURE
THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS
Elizabeth Gilbert | Bloomsbury | RRP: $29.99
I’d really enjoy, but when I found
out it was by Eat Pray Love author
Elizabeth Gilbert, I was very dubious
to say the least. Still, I promised
I’d have a look ... and I was drawn
in immediately! I admit to being
prejudiced, and to being wrong!
Alma Whittacker is born in 1800,
the only child to an Englishman
and his Dutch wife, in Pennsylvania. Her father is basically
illiterate, but by dint of cunning and hard work (and some
illegality!) has made a fortune in plant collecting and
pharmacy. Alma is encouraged to explore the estate and
question everything from a very young age. She’s homely,
but effortlessly intelligent, and becomes a precocious
naturalist. When her parents adopt the beautiful daughter
of a murdered prostitute, Alma’s life becomes complicated.
Becoming intrigued and obsessed with mosses, Alma
spends her adult years observing and thinking about the
signature of all things – the underlying structures of life.
A beautiful, younger man with an unsurpassed talent for
botanical illustration comes to her notice and they work well
together, until the messy complications of love intrude ...
Review by Lindy Jones
Abbey’s Bookshop | abbeys.com.au
PDG John Kevan
RRP: $6.99 (Kindle Edition)
All avid readers know what it’s
like to pick up a book, start to
read, and suddenly find that
you cannot put it down!
That was certainly my
experience with Cockatoo
Conspiracy, a splendid novel by
Rotarian John Kevan – a Past Governor of District 9465, WA.
John has enjoyed a long, successful business career
and makes no secret of the fact the book was a part-
time project over many years. This is a tribute to his
meticulous eye for detail and his determination to get
every statistic and technical fact correct – from wartime
geography and logistics to the intricate details of flying
a Boeing B-29 bomber.
It was no effort for John to research Western Australia’s
Yampi Sound and Cockatoo Island where the immediate
post-war portion of the story reaches an exciting
climax, but he also conducted extensive research in Los
Alamos, New Mexico – base for the much debated WWII
Manhattan bomb project.
John Kevan has a special story-telling talent. He expertly
sets the scene for US Air Force personnel in the Pacific at
war ’s end, while at the same time providing his perceived
background to the establishment of the Manhattan
atomic bomb project – veiled in a cloak of secrecy and
spiced with bursts of ruthless action.
The story of Captain Chuck O’Connell and his wartime
love affair with Australian nursing sister Jenny Hopkins-
Jones is weaved throughout the first half of the book and
laced with a tinge of sadness.
Their only child, Elizabeth, pursues a career in the
Australian Military Intelligence Organisation and becomes
embroiled in an international intelligence stand-off with
their United States counterparts, which eventually leads
her to first-hand involvement in the discovery of her
father ’s fate.
John’s absorbing story is complemented by the careful
character building of the leading players. While one has
suspicions as to who might be the “good guys” and the
“bad guys”, you really have to read the entire book for
To purchase the Kindle edition of Cockatoo Conspiracy
Review by Bob Aitken,
Executive Director, Rotary Down Under Inc.
For your chance to win a copy of Cockatoo Conspiracy email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to
Editor, Life & Leisure, 2/3 Fleay Court, Burleigh Heads, Queensland, 4220, and tell us in 25 words or less
why you would like a copy. Please include ‘Cockatoo Conspiracy giveaway’ in the subject line and postal
address details in the body of the email (or within the letter).
For your chance to win a copy of The Signature of All Things email email@example.com or
write to Editor, Life & Leisure, 2/3 Fleay Court, Burleigh Heads, Queensland, 4220, with your answer to
the following question. ‘Where was Alma Whittacker born?’ Please include ‘Signature giveaway’ in the
subject line and postal address details in the body of the email (or within the letter).
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