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152 of 155 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 August 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a huge fan of historical fiction and read as much of it as I can, especially that set in the nineteenth century and this sounded right up my street. I was a little dismayed by the thickness and weight of the book when it arrived but assumed it would be a captivating saga and that the pages would fly by.

I began to read with interest but was soon pulled up short by the anachronisms and historical inaccuracies in the early sections set in the United Kingdom. (Where do I begin? A governess teaching Latin to a 16-year-old boy? A governess sharing the dinner table with the family? A champion sheep-herding border collie living as a pet in an aristocratic drawing-room? An understanding of dog-allergy-induced asthma in the mid-nineteenth century? And so on...) I am not normally a stickler for nit-picking detail but I believe that historical fiction has to bear some resemblance to reality. And there was so much that wasn't plain wrong that I lost confidence in the writer. And that is not a good thing for a book which is meant to sweep readers away.

The story and various plot-lines rattled along nicely enough but on a purely superficial level because the characters were all stereotypes and without complexity. And it was all too far-fetched and easily resolved. The whole book could have done with a severe pruning. The writing style was plodding. ponderous and lacked any sparkle. It's impossible to tell whether this was the fault of the author or translator but surely the translator is to blame for this example of a rhyming phrase so little thought-out that I laughed out loud? "who stood with Madoc in the paddock."(!)

I would have given this novel far less three stars but felt it unfair to judge a novel that I had only skimmed through because of lack of engagement. Some reviewers seem to love it, so the fault must be mine. Sorry.
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2012
In the Land of the Long White CloudAs an expat Kiwi, and a lover of historical fiction I was expecting great things from this book. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I felt that the research was somewhat cursory, and many of the historic facts were incorrect. The story line was pretty thin, and where it could have been explored further to create depth, it was rushed. The writing was lazy and contained many anachronisms. I am trying hard to avoid saying it was utter drivel, but to be honest, that is the kindest thing I can say. Sorry, but can't recommend this book at all.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book on a huge scale. It reminds me of those magnificent Technicolor epics made in the late fifties and early sixties depicting pioneer life in the Old West, except that In the Land of the Long White Cloud is set mostly in New Zealand rather than the USA.

The book mainly concentrates on the lives of Helen Davenport, a governess in her late twenties drawn to New Zealand in search of the husband she is unlikely to find in Victorian London, and Guineira, daughter of Lord Silkham, who, in effect, loses her in a bet with a New Zealand wool baron. Helen is put in charge of six orphans destined to be servants. She and Guineira meet on the journey to New Zealand and their lives are entwined from that point on.

New Zealand is not what either was expecting, Christchurch being little more than a village, and their prospective husbands are not really what they were expecting either, but there is little option but to proceed as planned. So we follow their lives and watch how society in New Zealand begins to develop, thanks to the efforts of pioneers, entrepreneurs, rogues and misfits.

It would be impossible to give a summary of the plot without either diminishing it or acting as a spoiler. Suffice to say that what happens is often exciting, sometimes upsetting and always plausible. The characters of Helen and Guineira are sympathetic and you can identify strongly with them. Although they are strong characters, they are not those intensely irritating heroines who can overcome every travail put in their way. They are nineteenth century women living nineteenth century lives. Some of the other people you may feel you have met before, but it doesn't really matter as the story is strong enough to sustain them.

Initially I was a bit daunted by the size of the book - it is over eight hundred pages long and is heavy - but it reads at a rollicking pace and I finished it in a much shorter time that I had expected, having been completely immersed in the story, really enjoying the experience.

A word of warning - if you like your historical novels to be written in a form of language that sounds authentic to the period being written about, you may find that this book grates. The language is contemporary and uses words and idioms that are completely foreign to the nineteenth century. I was surprised to find that it was originally written in German. The translation is excellent as it doesn't fall into any of the traps that renditions from the German usually set.

So, this is an excellent book for cold winter evenings - it will transport you to the much more exciting and stirring times of nineteenth century pioneer life on the Canterbury Plains and the uplands of New Zealand - a really good read.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Helen Davenport is a 27 year old governess and her chances of getting husband are nil. On seeing an advertisement in a paper seeking young churchgoing women to marry honourable men in New Zealand she decides to take a chance and in due course finds herself in receipt of a marriage proposal from a'gentleman farmer'. She sails to the other side of the world on this slender promise of a good life, taking charge of a disparate group of young orphans who are being sent out to work in Christchurch and the surrounding countryside.

Also on the ship is Gwyneria Silkham, a beautiful daughter of a wealthy sheep breeder. She is wilful but bored with her life and desperate not to sink into a life of boring domesticity. A New Zealand sheep baron arrives to buy livestock from her father and as soon as he seens Gwyneria decides she would make the perfect wife for his son and by dint of a drunken card game wins Gwyneria as his future daughter in law.

Helen and Gwyneria become friends and this friendship is needed as both of them suffer disillusionment and unhappiness in their new lives.

This is a 500+ page book and it really could do with some serious editing as characters come and go and one or two given plotlines that I found rather unlikely. Characterisation is drawn with a wide brush stroke and we seem to stagger from one upheaval and disaster to another.

However, nit picking aside it certainly is a Good Read and, despite my thoughts given above, overall an enjoyable way of spending a day or two. It certainly engaged my attention even though I kept tutting and chuntering while I was reading it and, considering its length, that is something in its favour.

So only three stars which is a shame as when I started reading I thought it was going to be better than it was.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 2014
This was a lengthy book and on the whole, enjoyable. It begins in tells the story of two young 19th century women from different backgrounds. Gwyneira is the daughter of a Welsh aristocrat and Helen is a governess in England. Helen is attracted to an advertisement for brides for farmers in New Zealand and Gwyneira is gambled away by her father to a visiting New Zealand sheep baron.
The two ladies meet on their three month journey by sailing ship to their new country and become friends. Helen has been asked to accompany some young orphaned girls who are being transported on the same ship, to become servants in their new country.
The story is interesting as it provides some insight into life in a very young and developing country, which is very different from the impression both Helen and Gwyneira were given. The civilised society both women knew in England and Wales is not what they find when they arrive and both women have to endure different but equally challenging experiences in their new homes.
I would have given this book more stars but for the numerous anachronisms which other people have mentioned, as well as the irritating Americanized language used throughout the book. Examples I can instantly recall are "Fall" instead of "Autumn", "straightaway" instead of "immediately" or any other choice of more British vocabulary. All the spellings were American and the language used did not match the era at times. The American translator' s influence so dominated the book that it was sometimes difficult to remember the story was NOT set in America. To put it another way, the book often did not feel as if it was about the experiences of two British women.
Despite these comments, I still found the story enjoyable, though only worth 3 stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2013
Although we'll written from the point of view of the storyline, I find certain historical aspects of the book quite aggravating.

The author speaks continuously about the use of dollars as the currency used for trading in what was a British colony. Sorry America but the pound was the currency used until quite recently in New Zealand.
Also brassiers were not invented in that or any other country until the mid 20th century. The corset was still being worn at this time and on into the 20s when camisoles took over along with knickers. Until then, women wore corsets, bodices and pantaloons with open gussets as it was considered unhealthy not to allow the body to "breath". I still have my grandmother's version of these garments which I remember her wearing at least some of before she died at the grand age of 98.
The author needed to do a bit more research or not use an American translator. A British one may have given a more correct version of the era.
Janet Mount
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2013
The beginning of this book was good,then the story of main person being sent off to N.Z got stupid,also she was not allowed to see her friend, by nasty Father in law yet was riding over to her farm all the time,story was too far fetched for me as she was superwoman that knew it all!!,have lived in New Zealand and don't feel this was a good portrail of the people and country ,even though at differant period in time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2013
I always enjoy a good story and this one ticked most of the boxes. The theme of the story was one I had not come across before and had never really thought about i.e. why would people go to New Zealand? Australia has been well documented with it's criminal settlers but there is not a lot of fiction around about NZ.The author captured the sense of intrepidation that must have been felt by the women who were travelling across the world to an unknown future and the shattering of dreams when they arrived. The undercurrent of violence was well handled and the strength of character displayed by the women in all their different circumstances was well portrayed. I would recommend this as a holiday read - not too taxing but thoroughly enjoyable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.it had so many things,events going on it was hard to keep pace,I feel other reviewers comments re inaccuracies re the book unfair,it didn't spoil the book and if facts are more important than the story line then a factual book not fiction ought to be read,it is a gripping book and bought on daily deal was 99p well spent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2014
Not a bad read but the language was littered with words not in use in Victorian England e.g hassle, ok, mom, and servants were not referred to as "the help" they were servants and known as such. I found this quite irritating.

Also everyone kept winking at one another. It seemed like there was a genetic twitch going on. I don't know if this book was translated from German but many of the descriptions of characters expressions made them sound quite sleazy eg James smirked when recalling an incident... Smirking is not a nice expression. Smiled would have fit the bill better. There were many similar instances and they made it difficult to size up the characters when the reader is first introduced to them. All that winking and smirking wasn't done by well bred Victorian English gentlemen.

Parts of the book were very similar to The Thorn Birds but this book isn't as good as that. It's too easy to sort out all the problems by killing off everyone you don't like but it's not good storytelling.

I don't think I'll be buying any sequels.
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