Albert of Adelaide is a wierd and wonderful story that I absolutely loved. It is sort of like an Australian Wind in the Willows for grown-ups. Albert, a duck-billed platypus, escapes from a zoo in early 20th century Adelaide and ends up in Old Australia, where he meets a pyromaniac wombat called Jack and ends up accidentally becoming an outlaw.
This is a very masculine book. It is written in the Western genre (there is lots of drinking, gambling and shooting with fatal consequences - definitely not for young children), and many of the characters seemed to me to represent aspects of the male psyche (Albert is the naive boy, Jack and Muldoon are broken old men struggling with pride and regrets etc.). As a woman, this didn't put me off, and I thought it made it very poignant.
It is beautifully written, you really get a feel for the landscape, and the hilarious flashes of dry wit alleviate any tendency to the maudlin. I absolutely enjoyed reading the whole book. My one criticism would be that the relationships between Albert and some of the friendly characters aren't particular well defined - they don't feel as strong as I would like, although this might be a feminine perspective on male friendship.
In conclusion, if you are the sort of person who can get past the fact that the main character is a platypus, you will probably enjoy this book.
Title: Albert of Adelaide
Author: Howard Anderson