Oh dear, I’ve fallen behind schedule on only my second solo LibriVox recording. I suppose I was flush with the success of finishing The Pioneers in so timely a fashion when I set the deadline for my next recording for the 30th of March–only a month from when I started it.
Well, you live and learn. I’ll be more circumspect when I set the deadline for the third book. I’ll put aside three months as the standard period to record a work and if I finish earlier, I’ll consider that a bonus. And if I finish the next three books in a couple of months each and happen to record a fifth book this year, well, that’s another bonus.
A-a-a-and, I’m getting ahead of myself again. Back to the current book I’m recording. (Don’t forget you can follow my progress, chapter by chapter (!), via the ‘Books‘ page.)
‘Two Sides to Every Question’: From a South Australian Standpoint begins with the story of the Alton family, following the death of their husband and father, and the unpleasant discovery of their dire financial situation. Brother and sister, Tom and Nettie, sell the family’s country homestead and property and relocate with their invalid mother to the back streets of colonial-era Adelaide. Nettie turns to the ‘Wheeler and Wilson’, a sewing machine, to work from home while she tends to her mother’s needs, and Tom takes advantage of an opportunity extended to him through his old country neighbour’s influence, as a clerk in a stock supply business. Thus the scene is set for a meditation on the nature of poverty.
Before the reader can settle down to this rumination, however, another family enters the narrative. The Clintons are shepherded by Robert, the owner of the stock supply business where Tom is employed. Robert emigrated from England to Australia where his financial ability is likened to that of King Midas. In addition to his business, Robert speculates in stocks, most notably mining stocks, very successfully, and he has little patience for anyone who isn’t successful or who eschews the kind of success that he values. His attitude has resulted in his estrangement from the favourite sister of his youth, who chose marriage to a lowly curate over other more affluent prospects. Nevertheless, Robert agrees, in his sister’s time of need, to take on her son, Arthur Delta, and provide a position for him in his Australian business. Soon after Arthur arrives in Australia, he falls in love with his cousin, Elsie, prompting Robert to employ every method at his disposal to keep the two young lovers apart. Thus the scene is set for a meditation on the nature of wealth.
Arthur Delta, however, knows that in order to pursue Elsie’s affections he must be successful in her father’s eyes and, so, another thread in this story, which does not limit itself to the ‘two sides’ of its title, is that of social and financial aspiration, not only Arthur’s, but also that of those who co-habit with him in his lodgings –both his landlady and her family and three other boarders too.
Thus the scene is set for a meditation on wealth, poverty, social aspiration, and, it would seem, everything in between. Hold on!