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Morgan's Run    by Colleen McCullough order for
Morgan's Run
by Colleen McCullough
Order:  USA  Can
Pocket, 2002 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

'We are born owning many qualities; some we may never know we possess. It all depends what run God gives us.' This quote comes near the end of the book, after the novel proves that profound statement.

Felon Richard Morgan, whose story it is, comes to life in Morgan's Run (the Run in the title is a parcel of land that Morgan acquires), a captivating, engrossing and thoroughly erudite novel about the 'First Fleet'. Morgan sailed as a convict on the Alexander, a reconditioned slaver, one of a fleet of penal ships that England used as a method to relieve overcrowding in its jails. In May of 1787, the 'First Fleet' set sail for Botany Bay carrying 582 male and 193 women felons.

After a horrendous journey, the fleet reached their Australian destination on January 19th, 1788. Then began the second stage of an unbelievable story of deprivation, floggings, hangings, and downright misery. How anyone could survive such brutal conditions, along with sadistic and uncaring masters, is a story that is told by an extremely skilled writer. Australia had its beginnings in the blood and hardships of those convicts. Most of the felons were convicted of crimes that today would receive a slap on the wrist. Seven to fourteen years transportation was a typical sentence handed down to men and women alike! A death sentence for a great many.

The research that went into the making of this book is phenomenal. Ms. McCullough writes as though she were living this story and she manages without apparent effort to drop the reader right into the center of the action and the thoughts of the well-fleshed out characters. Richard Morgan, a real person, comes across as an upright and honorable man who is not beaten by his ordeal and lives to start a new life, and a dynasty that lives on today. Singer Helen Reddy is one of his descendants.

As a compulsive reader, I prefer long books in which I can immerse myself. This is such a book. I felt that I became a part of the story, knew all the characters and could call them friends. I liked the right people and in my mind booed the bad guys. I hated the book to reach its conclusion. But I am buoyed by an author's note that she hopes to continue Richard Morgan's story in another tome. I look forward to its publication with great anticipation. Read Morgan's Run. Savor it. Share it. But insist on it being returned. This one is a keeper.

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