Outlaws, irreverent humorists, political underdogs, authoritarians - and the silhouette, throughout, of a contemporary Australian woman: these are some of the figures who emerge from Philippa Kelly's extraordinary personal tale, The King and I. Kelly uses Shakespeares King Lear as it has never been used before to tell the story of Australia and Australians through the intimate journey she makes with Shakespeares old king, whose struggles and torments are touchstones for the variety, poignancy and humour of Australian life. We hear the shrieking of birds and feel the heat of dusty towns, and we also come to know about important moments in Australia's social and political landscape: about the evolution of women's rights; about the erosion and reclamation of Aboriginal identity and the hardships experienced by transported settlers; and about attitudes toward age and endurance. At the heart of this book is one woman's personal story, and through this story we come to understand many profound and often hilarious features of the land Down Under.

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