Boulder City Magazine® April 2010 Issue
by Fran Haraway
The Conjurer's Bird
by Martin Davies
In 1774, Captain Cook’s second expedition to the South Seas resulted in the capture of possibly the rarest bird ever seen - the mysterious bird of Ulieta. An unobtrusive little brown thrush - evidently the last of its kind - it was caught, killed, stuffed, sketched and brought back to England, and placed in the collection of Joseph Banks where, after a time, it somehow disappeared.
Boulder City Magazine®
|The only record of it is the drawing made by the son of the naturalist on board Cook’s ship. And thereby hangs a tale.
If you have ever dabbled in the pursuit of family genealogies, then you might agree with John Fitzgerald, one of this novel’s main characters (the other being Joseph Banks himself) that people need to be warned about, “ . . . looking for things that might not exist and that you don’t know where to find.”
That warning does not stop Fitz in his effort to find the mysterious bird, even though two others are avidly pursuing the same goal and are not above sabotaging the efforts of Fitz and Katya, his fellow adventure seeker.
This pursuit of a dead bird which might or might not exist brings the reader to the parallel story line which considers the life of famed naturalist Joseph Banks (in whose collection the bird reposed before it vanished) and his choice of love versus science.
Like Fitz two hundred years later, Banks has the pursuit of his scientific obsession compromised by the love of a woman.
The part of the novel devoted to Banks and his secret life is interwoven with the chapters about Fitz and Katya who, in their efforts to find the bird, shed light on the part of Banks’s life that he tried so hard to keep secret.
This novel is, above all, an adventure, a sort of avian Da Vinci Code wherein groups of people (not always with the best of motives) try to get information or objects before others realize their importance, and they often overlook the most important clues.
In the end, it’s all about love!
If you are interested in this book or would like to learn more, contact me at info@bouldercity magazine.com.
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