On a Bright Hillside in Paradise
On a Bright Hillside in Paradise,tells the story of a family of convict descendants in the back-blocks of Tasmania, on a farm in a place called Paradise. They lead hard-scrabble lives. The drama begins when strangers arrive, Christian Brethren evangelists who hold big revival meetings in local barns.
It tackles big questions of faith and family but is always grounded in the dreams and strivings of its beautifully drawn characters. Higgs takes lives that history might have judged as small and imbues them with immense dignity and complex and compelling inner lives. Avoiding the myth of the ‘frontier pioneer’ On a Bright Hillside in Paradise instead shows how these convict descendants wanted nothing more than to retreat to the bush to heal from their trauma, developing a deep love of the landscape in the process. It portrays characters unique to the Van Diemonian back-blocks who preferred the bush to the town and still do. At its heart, the novel is about a close-knit community and home-making in the bush. Despite injuries, losses, deaths, and near-starvation the family survives.