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The Rat Catcher

The Rat Catcher

Kim Kelly

Kim Kelly

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In the sweltering summer of 1900 young wharf labourer Patrick O’Reilly is down on his luck in the slums of Sydney and homesick for Tralee. When a deadly outbreak of plague descends on the city O’Reilly’s daydreaming mind is miles away – in the golden hair and kindly confident air of a girl called Rosie Hughes.

Just as he’s wondering why any girl would want a no-hoper like him opportunity knocks with the offer of a job as a rat catcher working for the city’s Plague Department containing the spread of disease. But the job will bring him a lot more than a pay rise and a swift education on traps and poisons.

In the Public Lending Library on the top floor of the Queen Victoria Building above the bustling centre of Sydney he comes face-to-face with a legendary rat called Old Scratch who will change the way he understands himself and the world forever.

Drawn from Kim Kelly’s own trove of Irish-Australian family lore The Rat Catcher is a mischievous fast-paced fable told with her trademark compassion a sharp eye on the epic in the ordinary and an irrepressible love for life in all its marvellous forms.


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About the Author

Kim Kelly writes novels and short stories that explore Australia, its history, politics and people. Her novella, The Rat Catcher: A Love Story, was shortlisted for Viva La Novella and longlisted for the ARA Historical Novel Prize, and her latest historical fiction, Ladies’ Rest and Writing Room, was a winner of the Finlay Lloyd 20/40 Prize. A dedicated narrative addict, Kim is also a long-term book editor and she’s currently in the midst of a PhD in Literature. Originally from Sydney, today Kim lives in central New South Wales, on Wiradjuri country, with her muse de bloke, and occasionally the kids when they come home to graze.

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