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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  39 reviews
On a beach not far from the isolated settlement of Sydney in 1797, a fishing boat picks up three shipwreck survivors, distressed and terribly injured. They have walked hundreds of miles across a landscape whose features—and inhabitants—they have no way of comprehending. They have lost fourteen companions along the way. Their accounts of the ordeal are evasive.

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Paperback, 349 pages
Published October 29th 2018 by Text Publishing
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  138 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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Robinson Crusoe meets Silence of the Lambs meets that old primary school song we all learned about Botany Bay.

This one is based on the true story of a shipwreck back in Australia's early (settlement) days, and man, is it a doozy.

The ship wrecks off the coast of Tassie Van Diemen's Land and a handful of men decide they need to make tracks towards Sydney in hopes of sending help. They take a bunch of slaves and don't even get me started ranting about slavery. Let's just say I'm glad this was 200+
Text Publishing
‘Serong’s prose is evocative, his dialogue convincing.’
Sydney Morning Herald

‘Serong is a talented storyteller.’

‘One of Australia’s most innovative and ambitious crime writers.’
NZ Listener

'Serong manages to breathe significant life into what is already a fascinating period if Australian colonial history. Preservation is totally engaging historical fiction.’
PS News
It was 1797 and Lieutenant Joshua Grayling was captivated by the eyes of the terribly injured Figge – his demeanor was strange to say the least; his story even stranger. From what he was told, the Sydney Cove had foundered on the rocks of Preservation Island, and the survivors had walked hundreds of miles until they were picked up near Sydney. The fourteen who had died along the way had apparently suffered – but Figge’s descriptions were random and didn’t make a lot of sense. William Clark was a ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Preservation is the fourth novel by Award-winning Australian author, Jock Serong. From the archive of a newspaper named The Asiatic Mirror, we know that a tri-masted country trader, the Sydney Cove, filled with goods including quite a lot of rum, left Calcutta in November of 1796, headed for New South Wales on a speculative venture, and was wrecked on Preservation Island in Bass Strait in early 1797. One of those on board, William Clark wrote an incomplete diary, extracts of which were quoted in ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: australia
2.5 - 3

This book was read over my summer Xmas holidays and is a good enough "beach read". I had purposely picked this one out with the hope it would be an Australian version of The North Water and there are some parallels, - disaster at sea, psychopaths and descriptions of violence I would be happy to have removed from my brain. However, where as The North Water left me pondering the nature of man in interesting ways, Preservation has left only the most vague of impressions about what it
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, mystery
Thanks to Text publishing for my free copy. I have never read this author before. Firstly fantastic I was thoroughly enthralled but couple of times I wander off from a slow pace of story telling. Overall though a very intriguing story (the actual event of the wreck of the ship the Sydney Cove) with good characters and some creepy ones. I was a bit sceptical with reading Australian history, only because I have been sucked in before thinking it would be a fairly even playing field only to discover ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've been trying to think of somebody else that could write books about abalone fishing quotas, cricket, asylum seekers and now early white Australian settlement, convicts, rum runners and shipwrecks and make them all equally compelling, memorable, and ... crime fiction.

Jock Serong is one of those writers whose books induce a spot of awkward happy dancing when they arrive - you're guaranteed of something different and unusual after all. Whilst each of the settings, and approaches have varied, at
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this over Christmas and I'm still trying to come to terms with it. My reading was very interrupted so I did not get a good run at it. I enjoyed the story, loved to hate the villain, but didn't feel connected to the story or the chatacters in any way and couldn't wait to finish (which happens to any book I read that takes more than a week to read). Not sure if it was the book or my reading circumstances. There was certainly a good feeling of place and some lovely descriptive prose.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A magnificent adventure, with some serious food for thought about Australian history, collective responsibility and the fragile bonds of civility. Just great.
Ystyn Francis
Thank you to Text Publishing for an advance copy of this excellent novel. After being blown away by Jock Serong's "The Rules of Backyard Cricket" - my favourite book of 2016 - I quickly devoured "On the Java Ridge" when it was released before heading back to where it all began by reading his Ned Kelly Award-winning debut novel, "Quota". What has impressed me most about Serong, including his newest novel "Preservation", is how all four books are about such vastly different worlds and the vastly d ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very pleased to have received this book as a gift, and what a tale it was!

Historical fiction centered on the wreck of the Sydney Cove in 1797 off the coast of Tasmania on an island now known as preservation island. The remains of the wreck were rediscovered in 1977.

Survivors of the wreck took a long boat with the aim of sailing for Sydney, but were also wrecked and they were then faced with a walk to Sydney. The ship originated from Calcutta and had Indian sailors (lascars) among their party.
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ripper of a yarn, and hard to put down once you pick it up. Loved how it’s told from multiple perspectives - definitely adds to the darkness and mystery, as you’re never quite sure who’s ‘truth’ is correct.
Christine Girgenti
Preservation has been a real journey in every way. Harrowing at times but also wonderful. Giving new light onto our Australian history is important and this book has rightful respect for our First Australians showing a different history to the one given by those in power. I love this book for that.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, australia
I had loved The Rules of Backyard Cricket so I got pretty excited when I found out I won a copy of Preservation (thank you Text Publishing!) and it didn't disappoint. Cleverly constructed, an interesting mix of characters (possibly the most despicable man in literature in Mr Figge)... you'll struggle to put it down.
Preservation was an impulse choice: I saw it at the library and I’d enjoyed Jock Serong’s On the Java Ridge (which BTW has won some awards since I read it).

Preservation is quite different in that it’s historical fiction set in colonial Sydney, and it only obliquely tackles the problem of evil in the present day. It’s basically a detective story but it’s absorbing reading because it’s a howdunit and a whydunit rather than a whodunit…

The novel is derived from the true story of shipwreck of the Syd
Gaby Meares
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Where do I begin?

Put simply, this is a historic novel, based on a true incident that occurred in 1797. A ship, the Sydney Cove, bound for the new colony of Sydney, is shipwrecked near Preservation Island in Bass Strait, with all on board surviving. They are stranded on a part of the coast that has not yet been mapped and there is little hope of being rescued. It is decided that a party of seventeen will set off in a longboat to reach Sydney and have a rescue ship sent back to collect the rest o
Pile By the Bed
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Australian author Jock Serong never does the same thing twice. He has gone from corruption in sport in The Rules of Backyard Cricket to a political thriller in On the Java Ridge and now to historical investigation in Preservation. But in each case he shines a light on some aspect of Australian life or, in some respects the Australian condition. In Preservation, besides being a cracking tale of survival, betrayal and psychopathy, Serong explores the earliest days of the colony of Sydney.

Leon Jane
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Preservation sets a high benchmark for historical fiction. The story, set in 1797, is beautifully carved out of the ruggard, harsh Australian environment. It is a true delight, and a literary masterpiece. I found enjoyment reading the descriptive narration through the eyes of someone first stepping onto this continent and trying to make sense of foreign fauna, flora and it’s people.

Geographical landmarks and places were described in such meticulous form that it was hard not to imagine the author
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another fascinating book from this author. I have read them all and enjoy thehir difference. I like his capacity to tell a story, weaving facts and fiction and this is no different. Set in early colonial Australia and weaving white settlement, indigenous culture and practice and the bones of a great story based on true events, Preservation does a great job of telling a survival story, whilst I think capturing prevailing Euro-centric prejudices, pomposity and born-to-rule ignorance and what they ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Told by 5 main narrators, with the reader often having to determine the identity of the narrator through the content, and written as part of a PhD in Creative Writing, Jock Serong brings to life a little known episode in the early history of the colony of New South Wales.

The Sydney Cove has come from India via a route that takes her around the western most tip of the continent, down the western side of Van Diemen's Land, and then up the eastern coast of the island, only to be wrecked in what wou
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three shipwreck survivors are discovered in Sydney in 1797, clothes shredded and not in good shape. It’s a strong opening for this crime novel, and like the protagonist Lieutenant Joshua Grayling, you want to know what happened. As the mystery unravels (chapters rotating between different characters’ viewpoints - which is great for keeping my interest, very George RR Martin), what is most powerful is the pure evil of the tea merchant Mr Figge. When one character nearly drowns: “Mr Figge looked a ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-great-reads
This historical novel is set in the colony of New South Wales in 1797. It tells the story of a ship wreck and the survivors. It is based on the true story of the wreck of The Sydney Cove, coming from India to Sydney laden with trade items, including tea and rum. The ship is wrecked somewhere in Bass Strait and the survivors make their way by foot to Sydney, helped by the First Nations people they meet on the way.
This is a wonderfully written portrait of the early years of colonization. the char
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
A terrific survival story set in Australia's colonial past. Based on a the bones of a real shipwreck and survival tale, Jock Serong has created a riveting tale. Set in 1797 in the waning years of Governor Hunter's reign, with John Macarthur and the Rum Corps in ascendancy, the Sydney Cove, a ship smuggling rum to the colonies, founders in unchartered waters off the coast Van Diemen's Land. What follows is a tale of greed, violence and survival, a story that sympathetically explores the community ...more
Marcia Zeller
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gripping work of historical fiction based on the true story of the wreck of the Sydney Cove at the island of Preservation Island in the eastern Bass Strait in 1797. The events leading up to and following the wreck are explored in a non-linear narrative. The character of John Figge is one of the most chilling depictions of evil I've ever read. I understand Jock Serong's books to date have been in the crime fiction genre - I regard his latest book to be a very well researched, richly evocative f ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books where you want to debrief immediately with someone else who has read it. It's historical fiction at its finest - a compelling moment in history where the setting comes to life, the characters are real and varied, the atmosphere is palpable and there are many white-knuckle moments. Within these pages lurks one of the most frightening (evil) characters I have ever met in my lifelong reading journey...

Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in 1797 and based on the true story of shipwreck survivors and their trek from Victoria to Sydney. The harsh landscape and the sense of menace make this a gripping read. Jock Serong has a very easy style so I raced through this to find out who survived. The dignity and wisdom of the indigenous peoples is shown in stark contrast to the brutality and savagery of their white, civilised occupiers. The nasty character of Figge shows evil that lies within a certain type of man.
Kim Miller
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, library
Whilst I wasn't as enraptured with Preservation as I was with On The Java Ridge, this is a novel that all
Australians should read. It skilfully weaves an understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations and horticulture into the heart rending and disgusting narrative of the survivors of the Sydney Cove shipwreck. Trigger warnings re: sexual and graphic violence - Senior/Adult fiction.
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
1797 a fishing boat rescues 3 distressed, injured shipwrecked survivors who have walked hundreds of miles across the Australian landscape. Originally 17, 14 were 'lost' along the trek, more of the crew remained with the vessel, Sydney Cove, waiting for rescue.
Wonderful references of the indigenous people, contrast to the ignorance of early colonial settlements.
Very easy to read and follow, 1st Jock Serong book for me and looking forward to the next.
Jackie Mcmillan
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars)
Historical fiction is not my favourite genre, but I enjoyed Serong’s tale of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, read as I myself crossed over Bass Strait for the first time. Shifting perspectives between multiple characters the story of death & greed unfolds. It’s not a proud history we come from as descendants of white settlers passing so heavily over Aboriginal land.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
A well written and thought provoking fictional account of an historical shipwreck off Australia. As a lover of historical fiction, this certainly did not disappoint, full of detail and information. It was easy to lose yourself in the places the characters were (bush or Sydney town). This book is now joining my husband's 'to read' pile. Thank you to Text Publishing for this copy.
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Aussie Readers: Win a copy of Preservation! Ends 1st October 18 33 Oct 14, 2018 03:21PM  
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Jock Serong lives and works on the far southwest coast of Victoria. He was a practising lawyer when he wrote Quota and is currently a features writer, and the editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. He is married with four children, who in turn are raising a black dog, a rabbit and an unknown number of guinea pigs. Quota was his first novel.
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