A River Town

by Thomas Keneally. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, 324 pages, $24.00.
Mr. Keneally’s latest novel begins in a small town in southeastern Australia with Tim Shea, a not very prosperous shopkeeper from Ireland, relaxing under his backyard pepper tree to read two newspapers, have a small drink to himself, and waste no sympathy on England’s predicament with the Boers. It is the last quiet moment in the book, for Mr. Keneally is a master of ingenious incident and intriguing chicanery. Tim, poor fellow, has a terrible time with bigotry and bad luck. The reader is offered a fine time with constant action based on an intelligent sociological view.
—Phoebe-Lou Adams