The year is 1847 and it is the time of the infamous potato famine in Ireland. My knowledge of the period is sketchy and I fell in love with this cover. The somber tones perfectly convey the feeling of despair and almost resignation that the emigrants have.
We have scores of people moving out of Ireland and underscoring the famine and hunger, is also the fact that most of them are farmers who love the land but who are just tenant farmers. They long for their own land, something that they could nurture, protect and enhance and then hand over to their children.
Clarence and Bessie have no children - they actually abduct Molly while her sister is at her mother's funeral and very quickly whisk her away from the home she has always known. Molly is just three. The story follows with a tiring, eventful journey across the seas to Australia. There the family like scores of their fellow countrymen try to settle down to the life they are dreaming about. Molly's death is an act of murder covered up by her adopted parents as well as by Hannah who is cowed into covering up the actual facts. Molly's death is also the death knell for Bessie and Clarence who reverse their plans, move out and establish themselves elsewhere.
The book is one of a trilogy and I do hope I can track down the other books in the series. Very evocative and very descriptively told of the trials of average human beings. How even a very normal person like Bessie, can turn into something she is normally not. She was not maternal, she had motherhood thrust on her and she did not take to it. The difficulties facing farmers in a land totally different to what they knew is a subject that fascinates me. I have problems being an agriculturalist in a land I know. Imagine not knowing terrain, temperature, wild life (of which everything was different and strange), the hazards of no civilization, no doctors, no schooling. People faced all this and overcame these obstacles and did wonders for their adopted land.
This was a very good read.
Courtesy of Netgalley via Troubador Publishing Ltd.