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on 10 March 2001
i received this book as a present, and being 18 and never particularily interested in telegraph lines, it was with definite prejudgment that i first started reading this book during a four hour train journey. however, alice thomson's style of writing is such that it is part her diary, part her great grandfather's diary and also part history guide. i have found this book to be very absorbing and also highly detailed proving that thomson's journey was well worth it, but it also shows the very human side to the story which she tells. this book tells two very interesting stories - charles todd's, and alice thomson's. recommended for passing the time in a constructive way whilst enduring long train journeys!
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on 8 May 2006
This is an inspiring book for anyone who is planning a trip up the Red Centre of Australia, or who is interested in gaining a further understanding of what the colonists faced on arrival in Australia. Alice Thomson manages to weave her own trip along the telegraph line neatly into the historical account of Todd's great endeavour and perhaps in doing this ensures that the reader is not bogged down too much by the Victorian aspect. The arduous journey Thomson and her husband undertake amply demonstrates quite how much an achievement the building of the telegraph line was 125 years earlier. Her writing style is fluid and enjoyable to read. Highly recommendable, a great mix of history and travel with the latter bringing the former to life.
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on 15 January 2003
If you liked 'Longitude', 'The Explorers' & Bill Bryson's 'Down Under' this is a really fascinating mix of the three - recounting the author's great grandfather - Charles Todd's struggle to overcome the practical and technological hurdles of stringing a telegraph line from the northern territory to south australia in the 1850's and her modern day journey retracing his footsteps.
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on 28 May 2005
This is book with a lot of charm, part travel book, part history and part family investigation. It takes you straight into the heartland of 19th century Australia, as well as opening up the little known history of pioneers like Samuel Morse and the author's ancestor Charles Todd who linked the world by the telegraph. Todd, one of those eccentric, driven people who embark on extraordinary adventures, put Australia on the map and helped create the global village. That Charles' patient, long suffering but equally eccentric wife Alice should be imortalised in Alice Springs is one of those historical quirks that you only find in oddball books like this. Todd's rivalry with the horrible Patterson adds some dramatic tension to this extraordinary adventure. A lovely book.
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on 20 April 2011
The great great granddaughter of Alice Todd, the woman for whom the town of Alice Springs was named, tells two great tales of adventure: the story of Charles Todd and his quest to connect Australia and the world by telegraph, and her own adventure tracing the route of the overland pioneers over 100 years earlier. The bulk of the story is about the Todds and the telegraph project, and it is an very well researched story that draws material from personal diaries of the key figures, historical newspapers and academic research, as well as the personal stories captured and retold by the author's relations. I was captivated by the quest of Todd and the drama that surrounded it and I was inspired by the eventual success of the team despite all the unknown conditions they had to face in terms of central and northern Australia's landscape, climate and fauna. The author's personal journey following the telegraph route was an informative and entertaining travelogue, particularly as I am formulating my own plan for tour through central australia. I was left dreaming about things I could rediscover for myself by venturing off the beaten track when I travel up the middle of Australia.
Overall, I found the novel to be very well written, entertaining, historically insightful, and the two intertwined stories provided additional fuel to my own travelling ambitions.
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on 5 February 2000
Gave this to my grandmother for Christmas and she has raved about it to all her friends. Very interesting insight into the hardships that the early explorers encountered. A thoroughly enjoyable book, easy reading and entertaining.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2000
'The Singing Line' is a glorious and emotional tale, lovingly and well written, and a riveting and rollicking read. I learned so much from it about 'old Cambridge' and the early heroes of the 'outback' of Oz. Splendid!
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on 2 January 2011
The creation of the overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin was one of the great engineering achievements of the Victorian age, and this book does it justice. Alice Thomson traces its route across the central Australian desert in a modern car, but even so finds it tough going. Her book makes for an entertaining read which will appeal to those interested in the history of science and engineering or in the history of Australia, and indeed in modern Australia. Try to obtain the hardback edition where the endpapers show a map of the entire route which the paperback does not.
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on 7 October 2010
What can I say, this is an excellent book, very well written and researched. I really like the fact that Alice & Ed did the journey and we had the comparison between there experience and the experience of Todd and his workforce. Having been to some of the places mention, I found that the book really brought the landscape and the people to life.
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on 14 May 2015
An amazing personal history tracing the lives of Charles Todd, father of the telegraph line that connected Australia to the rest of the world and his wife Alice, after whom Alice Springs is named, and a woman of great fortitude in her own right - written with humour, interest and sensitivity.
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