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For perhaps the first time in novel form, Benevolence presents an important era in Australia’s history from an Aboriginal perspective. Told through the fictional characterisation of Darug woman Muraging (Mary James), Benevolence is a compelling story of first contact. Born around 1813, Muraging is among the earliest Darug generations to experience the impact of British colonisation – a time of cataclysmic change and violence, but also remarkable survival and resistance.
At an early age Muraging is given over to the Parramatta Native School by her Darug father. Fleeing the school in pursuit of love, she embarks on a journey of discovery and a search for a safe place to make her home. Spanning the years 1816–35, Benevolence is set around the Hawkesbury River area, the home of the Darug people, in Parramatta and Sydney.
Julie Janson’s intensely visual prose interweaves historical events with detailed characterisation – she shatters stereotypes and gives voice to an Aboriginal experience of early-settlement.