Author(s): John Ferry
It is through the stories of townspeople and their aspirations, achievements and foibles that this vivid history unfolds. Unconventional as well as rigorously researched, this is an engrossing and dramatic narrative of the making of one town's prosperity. Armidale here provides a clear reflection of the growth of rural society in Australia's Victorian era. Its inhabitants, their sense of place and special affection for their town, the moral dimension of the day and the proscriptions of class and gender are all brilliantly rendered. The routines and work-a-day world of smalltown lives share the stage with the rich and powerful, avoiding any romanticised or heroic presentation of the past. In this animated panorama of humanity and history, the thrill of discovery could not be greater were this some ancient and exotic civilisation under scrutiny.