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This historical novel is set in Newtown, a south Sydney community, facing the socio-economic effects of the 1930s depression. Dulcie, the central character, is a young woman tempered by the conflicts of her life. She is surrounded by family and friends.
The dominant theme is the depression, its effect upon the people and how people react to it. Other themes include boxing, industrial relations and a child's progress while growing up during this period.
The narrator, a know-all model, links action, dialogue and comments on cultural, political and economic issues of the times and creates a contrasting voice to that displayed by the characters.
The dialogue is sensitive to accents and variations among classes of people, while being conscious of the cultural incursions of the USA via films and popular music.
A variety of scenes are linked to the geography of Newtown and its era in order to convey a proper sense of historical accuracy.