Thomson, Alice The Singing Line

ISBN 13: 9780099272823

The Singing Line

3.64 avg rating
( 50 ratings by GoodReads )
9780099272823: The Singing Line

The story of the man who strung the telegraph across Australia, and the woman who gave her name to Alice Springs. In 1855 an impoverished young scientist from Greenwich told his guardian that he was off to chance his luck in Australia - as Government Astronomer and Superintendent of Telegraphs for the small colony of South Australia. With him went his young wife Alice - after whom Alice Springs would be named. For Charles Todd was following a dream - the near impossible task of stringing a telegraph wire across one of the last uncrossed colonial wilderness, and finally connecting Australia with Britain. In 1997, their great-great-granddaughter Alice followed in their footsteps. Her plan was to track the telegraph and her ancestors, from Adelaide over the thousands of miles of desert, outback, swamp and mountain that Charles Todd had crossed in the 1860s with his 400 men.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.


In 1855 a young scientist called Charles Todd left Greenwich for Australia, where he intended to wire the continent by stringing a telegraph line across the wilderness. In 1997 his great-grandaughter, journalist Alice Thomson, set off to retrace his steps from Adelaide to Alice Springs (which Charles Todd named after his wife, the author's great-grandmother, who never visited the town) to Darwin, where the telegraph wire would join up with an underwater cable from Java.

Needless to say, Todd's journey, reconstructed here through letters and family history, was arduous; more surprisingly, so is Thomson's. As she and her husband cope with breakdowns, illness and the poverty of isolated communities, it becomes clear that parts of the outback haven't changed much since Todd first saw them.

In Charles Todd and his wife Alice, Thomson has chosen intriguing subjects. Charles is brilliant and ambitious but increasingly unaware of the needs of those around him, particularly his large family. Thomson isn't afraid to cast a critical eye: "Certainty had helped Todd to span a continent. It may not always have made him an easy companion." But the strongest presence in the book is the enigmatic Alice, the sparky young woman who made family history by proposing marriage to Charles. Frequently separated from Todd, Alice oscillates between bouts of sociability, fierce spirituality and depression. Was she happy with Charles? The Singing Line is an exploration of personal as well as technological connections and it seeks to answer that question. --Tamsin Todd


"They were pioneers--in Alice Thomson they have the spirited chronicler they deserve." - "Daily Telegraph""Brilliant--I have not enjoyed a book more for as long as I can remember." - "Spectator"

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace


Thomson, Alice
Published by Vintage Books (2000)
ISBN 10: 0099272822 ISBN 13: 9780099272823
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)

Book Description Vintage Books, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099272822

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds