"The report from the small gun was hollow, even unremarkable - like the cracking of a topsail far above a deck. It seemed an echo of itself, as if the real shot had fired somewhere much further away." (p.160)
The second quote similarly creates an image (one that I very much sympathise with because I feel the same) but that is again something not familiar in everyday modern life:
" 'I've been busy,' said Balfour, eyeing the candle a second time - for ever since he was a boy he had not been able to sit before a candle without wanting to touch it, to sweep his index finger through the flame until it blackened, to mould the soft edges where the wax was warm, to dip his fingertip into the pool of molten he sat and then withdraw it, swiftly, so that the tallow formed a yellow cap over the pad of his finger which blanched and constricted as it cooled." (p.196)
What is really wonderful about the book though is the complexity of the plot. It is simply a darn good story, well written and well put together. It twists and turns and, like the men in the 'fellowship', we get dribs and drabs of information, some by deliberate and often furtive enquiries, but some come across by accident in the course of life in a small and intimate community. Everybody knows each other and each other's business. The social and political attitudes of the time are very vividly represented. The feeling of being far from home is a theme for many characters and much of the language refers to going back when a suitable fortune has been made. The influence of the gold is everywhere, in the forefront of everyone's interactions. In Anna, Lydia and Margaret we have three women who are victims of the harsh life that exists in this outpost of the empire, all of whom have reacted in different ways to the restrictions of their gender. I was concerned that the 'whore' thing might be a bit clichéd, but Anna is a very real character and all the men's opinions and reactions to her are cogent with their respective personalities. It just occurred to me that it was interesting to so enjoy a book that was much more focussed on male characters because so many books that I read are by and about women.
Final quote comes from Moody, and I kind of liked it because it sums up the process of reading the book. Having followed through several months the book then cycles around on itself to the backstory of the main players, though one vital event was left unexplained, but I don't begrudge it.
" 'All that is impertinent is not only immaterial; it is, in many cases, deliberately misleading. Gentlemen,' (though this collective address sat oddly, considering the mixed company in the room) 'I contend that there are no whole truths, there are only pertinent truths - and pertinence, you must agree, it always a matter of perspective. I do not believe that any one of you had perjured himself in any way tonight, but your perspectives are very many, and you will forgive me if I do not take your tale for something whole." (p.282)