"They wanted a love they could take into eternity." In a small town on the Australian coast Penny grows up to marry the boy who has waited for her. Few know the truth about her birth. Her uncle Jack is one, for he shared with her father not only his childhood but also the horror of their wartime experience. Jack and Penny's special bond is as rare and precious as the beautiful nautilus shell they find washed up on the beach - entwined with its history are the secrets of their past and the tenacious passions of the other people who have had a stake in their lives. "A novel of proportion that winds symmetrically back into itself like the exquisite paper nautilus shells of the title." - Peter Goldsworthy. "A disarmingly simple story, told with an elegance of style that immediately adds distinction - a feat not to be taken lightly. The no-tricks simplicity of the prose reveals very accomplished tricks indeed." - Thomas Shapcott. "'Paper Nautilus' reflects Jose's interest in the complex processes behind a single moment. It is surprisingly satisfying." - Susan Lever. "Moral strength, narrative poise, descriptive grace and historical sensibility make Paper Nautilus a splended experience for the reader." - Humphrey McQueen
Australiathe "lukewarm, lilac unknown'' waters off the boot camp of Darwin and the saltbushes, paddocks and ``mottled wave'' of the remote home village of the Tregenza family on the southern peninsulais perhaps this fine novel's chief character as the country becomes less isolated and more modern in the wake of WW II. Jack Tregenza, chance survivor of the war, has raised his niece Penny after the wartime death of his brother Peter. This is a slim, unsentimental book about vivid people whose apparent ordinariness is deceptive. The deliberate discontinuity of the bookwhich opens with Penny's wedding and closes with Penny's conception and the parting of her unmarried parents after a single night together as Peter leaves for warrobs the story of narrative tension, but readers will be rewarded by a truthful family portrait and a multi-angled picture of a changing world, especially for women. Australian usages may occasionally distract American readers, but Peter's plea, ``Jack, breathe!'' as he labors to save his brother when they both find themselves struggling for life in a military hospital speaks from the heart to everyone.