The Sundowners (novel)

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The Sundowners
Author Jon Cleary
Country Australia
Language English
Publication date
1952

The Sundowners is a novel by Australian writer Jon Cleary.

Plot[edit]

The story is set in the Australian Outback during the 1920s and deals with one year in the life of the Carmody family. Paddy Carmody, Australian-born son of Irish migrants, is an itinerant worker, travelling the country with his wife Ida and son Sean in a horse-drawn wagon. Whilst Ida longs to settle in a place of their own, Paddy is unwilling to abandon his way of life and continues to pick up work where he can. He takes cattle-droving jobs and also sheep-shearing - which he doesn't like, but pays well.

At one point, he joins a shearing team with Sean as tarboy and Ida as the shearers cook.

They meet various colourful outback characters, ranging from prosperous graziers to drunks, including Rupert Venneker, a well-educated Englishman in self-imposed exile.

Along the way. Sean develops from boy into young man. Venneker marries and settles in a small town. And the Carmodys continue on their way.

Background[edit]

The book was based on stories Cleary had been told by his father, who ran away to Queensland when he was a teenager. Additional research was provided by C.E.W. Bean's On the Wool Track.[1] Cleary wrote the novel in long-hand during the evenings after work while he was living in New York working as a journalist, with the manuscript typed out by his wife Joy.[2][3]

Adaptations[edit]

The novel was a large success, eventually selling over three million copies, and was well reviewed overseas. It was his second book to be published in the USA.[4]

It was adapted for Australian radio in 1953 (with Rod Taylor playing Paddy),[5] and film rights were purchased by the American producer Joseph Kaufman, then in Australia to make Long John Silver (1954). Kaufman commissioned a script from Australian author Kay Keavney.[3] No movie resulted, but the rights then transferred to Fred Zinneman who directed a film version in 1960.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Susan Geason, 'Jon Cleary: A Fortunate Life', The Sydney Morning Herald, December 06, 1992 p 111
  2. ^ "AUTHOR JON CLEARY AND FAMILY RETURN.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 30 October 1953. p. 11. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Jon Cleary Interviewed by Stephen Vagg: Oral History at National Film and Sound Archive
  4. ^ William du Bois, 'Paddy Was A Nomad: THE SUNDOWNERS' New York Times09 Mar 1952: BR4
  5. ^ "THE OUTBACK GETS A FAIR DEAL AT LAST.". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia). 14 November 1953. p. 63. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 

External links[edit]