by Vicky Adin
This delightful novel is divided into three parts and spans several years.
Part one: The journey
The story starts in 1886 in Ireland. Successive crop failures and brutal English landlords have pushed a family of subsistence farmers to the brink of starvation and close to despair, but not close enough to extinguish a flickering flame of hope and determination. For her own and her family’s survival Brigid, an eighteen year old girl, leaves the only life she has known for an uncertain future on the alien shores of Australia. Her cousin Jamie is on the same ship but in different quarters.
Part one focuses on the voyage and in particular the evolving interactions between passengers. These relationships, which can be both romantic and hostile, become the driving force and the glue that shapes the course of their lives. The characters are well drawn and the author displays considerable insight into what motivates people and how various character types are likely to react to each other.
Part two: Australia
Although the passengers are dropped at various ports, the residual attraction and antagonism of the shipboard liaisons merge with pure chance to draw the passengers towards each other. But circumstances are changing and natural disaster plays its part. Hopes and realities have different agendas and people can be swept in directions they neither planned nor wanted and end in murder. With a body being hidden and the police looking for a missing person it becomes time to change names and find another ship to take them to New Zealand and the possibility of a new venture.
Part three: New Zealand
Hungry for opportunity, at a time when women were considered genetically unfit for commercial enterprise, the group’s hope focuses on Brigid. Her Irish integrity and outstanding skill at lace making is complimented by Sally’s risk taking, and her ability to use charm and style to manipulate everything from shop windows to financial records. But the local economy is in distress and bigger companies control most of the market. Shadows of their Australian venture fall across their fledgling venture threatening to overwhelm it and snatch away their hopes.
As I turned the pages I was taunted by the possibility that the seeds of integrity planted by an eighteen year old girl from County Clare could germinate and grow strongly enough to outmanoeuvre these threats so far from her native home. Vicky Adin leaves us in no doubt about the answer to that question. And at the same time provides an insight into what hope and determination can do when mixed with a bit of Irish charm.
I found this a delightful novel that was hard to put down. It has been well researched and reflects considerable understanding of the attitudes of the era. After reading the book I felt I knew and sympathised with the characters.
The copy of the book I read is a perfect bound paperback and has an appealing cover that I found most appropriate for the character of the novel. From a handling point of view I felt the publisher could have provided a larger offset gutter as I found it necessary to hold the book open to prevent it from snapping shut if I relaxed my grip.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in people.
Author: Vicky Adin
Publisher: AM Publishing NZ Ltd
ISBN: print book 978-0-9941135-8-0; ebook 978-0-9941305-0-1
Available: in print and digital formats. Via Amazon; from author via http://vickyadin.co.nz