Timberlake Wertenbaker's 'Our Country's Good is among my favourite plays, and as this is the book on which it's based I came to it with high expectations. Some were met, while others were not. The depiction of Australia as a foreign world is beautiful, and makes a fine backdrop to the story of Lieutenant Ralph Clark rallying a bunch of prisoners to rehearse and perform a play for the King's birthday. If anything however, it's slightly underused. With Ralph as the point of view character, the world in which the convicts live remains a distant thing that can only be understood second hand, and for me the story suffers within this limitation. Clark's dilemmas, including his infatuation with one of the convicts he directs, are for the most only mildly dramatic, and his inactions were a source of deep frustration as I read along with them. The drama lifts somewhat in the presence of the secondary cast, particularly as the back stories that brought them to Australia unfold, but the novel has little of the thematic precision demonstrated by the play it spawned. By no means a bad book - it's beautifully written, and captures an uneasy time and setting very well - it nevertheless failed to excite me in quite the way I'd hoped.