Australia’s acclaimed national treasure delivers two slyly linked novellas – The Genteel Poverty Bus Company and Inventing the Weather – in which “progress” vies unsuccessfully with more feral aspects of an untamed land. When would-be hermit Macintosh Hope, formerly of the Genteel Poverty Bus Company, settles down on a tiny Pacific isle off Australia’s coast, he thinks he’s found the perfect retreat from the workaday world. And he has – until neighboring Hummock Island is claimed by developer Clifford Truscott as a tourists’ paradise. Thus sparks a confrontation pitting the thuggery of progress against the skills and wit of a lone man who proves uncannily adept at remaining the proverbial thorn in the magnate’s side. Inventing the Weather finds the same developer’s wife fed up and leaving her fatcat husband and their smug, precocious children. Julie Truscott’s journey to independence takes her as far as a small mission run by nuns at Bukki Bay. But old ties aren’t severed easily, and Clifford soon sets off tremors in the mission community, once he casts a profit-making eye on its enviable spot on the coast. With an unerring sense for language and a shrewd eye for human character and detail, Thea Astley sounds the territory and spirit of her native Gold Coast with the authority of a seasoned denizen of the terrain.