By: Rebecca Bryn
A young poacher is found guilty of killing Lord Northampton’s gamekeeper and is transported to Van Diemen’s Land for life, leaving behind the common-law wife he loves. Pregnant and penniless, she faces the appalling lack of rights for women in Victorian England and is forced to make hard choices. While he suffers the deprivations of a brutal life in chains, she is determined her child will know its father; she embarks on a dangerous endeavour to follow her lover across the globe. Will the cost of her actions prove too high, for her and for all those she loves? (Inspired by family history and real events.)
The three-book series spans twenty years in the lives of Jem and Ella and takes them around the globe, crossing perilous oceans in sailing ships and suffering the hardships many convict and free emigrants suffered to found a British colony on slave labour.
Book Two is ‘Beneath Strange Stars’.
Book Three is ‘On Common Ground’.
First Class Entertainment…
- by Tom Benson
I’ve read thirty books across a wide range of genre this year, and this story is in the top three. However good a book might be I generally have a reservation or two, even if they are minor. I had no such reservations by the time I arrived at the end of this superbly told tale. Love, lust, loss, deceit, honour, degradation and severe penalties are only a hint of the contents.
What did I find so impressive?
From sex scenes in a variety of locations, to breeds of working horses, to the conditions onboard a prison ship, the detail and imagery are outstanding. Imagination and storytelling for a tale such as this are only as good as the research, and the author has brought all three aspects together.
I’ve been aboard a Dutch East India-man (in this century), and can confirm the spartan conditions of a ship of similar size. A prison ship converted from a battleship of its day would be claustrophobic at best.
When the writer produces emotion as you read, their job has been done, and in this case it was done with interest. The characters in this story are plentiful and colourful, but importantly – believable. I was impressed in particular by the development of Ella, but so many others will remain clear in my memory.
I was hoping to be entertained, and I was absorbed in the story within a few paragraphs. I have to hold back now for a while before reading the second in the series, because I’d like to savour the idea of the continuing story.
Kudos, Rebecca Bryn.