The Night Flower Paperback – 15 Aug 2013
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Prejudice, Piety, and Prostitution in 'parts beyond the seas' are the themes explored in Sarah Stovell's original and moving Victorian novel (Essie Fox)
A Romany girl and a disgraced governess are transported as convicts to Tasmania in this hugely entertaining Victorian gothic.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Miriam, a sweet young Romany gypsy, is orphaned and in order to survive befriends headstrong Katie-May. Led astray by her new friend, Miriam's life changes dramatically.
Rose is the opposite of Miriam- well brought up, well turned out and a mother who takes her role seriously. However, as her life changes beyond recognition her future mirrors that of Miriam, and both women are piled on to a crowded, stinking ship and transported to the convict colonies of Tasmania.
Can Miriam and Rose, who appear to have nothing in common, work together, trust each other or even become friends?
The Night Flower is a fabulous read. Alluring despite the dark and slightly seedy subject matter, it is ultimately a book exploring how quickly life can change. It demonstrates the resilience within us as humans and is a gritty, honest book.
I found Miriam and Rose likeable characters and I empathised with their plight. Their lives are so far removed from my own that as a reader I felt almost guilty at my freedom, choice and privilege.
The Night Flower is beautifully written, an intoxicating, seductive book best enjoyed in as few sittings as possible. Dark and gritty, coarse and seedy- Sarah Stovell's book makes for uncomfortable yet riveting reading.
The Night Flower is out now, published by Tindal Street Press.
It follows the unjust, unfair, unscrupulous abuse suffered by those prisoners forcibly taken to the other side of the world.
Sarah Stovell weaves the three main female characters into a frightening tapestry that depicts the terrible conditions endured and the systematic abuse liberally dished out.
Yet Sarah captures the hope and friendships that grow out of these cesspit conditions and offers the possibility of salvation.
However, those charged with delivering salvation are so flawed and morally corrupt that any chance of betterment is lost.
Miriam - Rose - Ma Dwyer and the Reverend Sutton Snr and his son are believable main characters, well drawn by Sarah.
Their lives unfurl before you in a narrative that switches appropriately between them with each contributing to the overall story.
This is a captivating read, where the authors words genuinely conjure a bygone era.
Usually, a 14 year old orphaned gypsy girl and a 26 year old widowed governess would not have much in common. Usually. But in 1842, when Miriam Booth is convicted of burglary and Rose Winter is convicted for the theft of fourteen silver knives and forks and one ring, both are sentenced to seven years transportation. Both will sail on ‘The Marquis of Hastings’ to Van Diemen’s Land.
Miriam has lived by her wits in the Newcastle slums, until she became involved in house-breaking. Rose, once much higher in society than Miriam, became a governess when she was widowed with three young children of her own. Her father has been imprisoned for slave trading (a prosperous but by then illegal trade) and Rose’s position in society suffers as a consequence.
Conditions aboard the ship are appalling, although women with money to spare or willing to be ‘wife’ to one of the sailors can secure a better passage. Rose, who is accompanied by her youngest daughter Arabella, is able to share a cabin while Miriam is stuck in the hold where she is befriended by Ma Dywer, a former brothel-keeper travelling to join her convict husband already in Van Diemen’s Land.
After they arrive in Van Diemen’s Land, Miriam and Rose are hired by the Reverend Sutton to work at his nursery for convict babies – an alternative which seems much better than working at the Cascades Factory for Women.
‘But I was coming to see for myself how there was a lot of difference in this world between the Christian way of thinking and the Christian way of acting.Read more ›
Stovell is an accomplished writer, and can conjure up a scene with just a few choice words. She never shies away from the choice and often sordid details that make her version of the period so colourful and convincing. I loved the voice of Miriam in particular, her fresh and perceptive way of looking at the world, and the injustices it serves upon her. There's some big themes in these pages, many of them centred on gender and class, but Stovell's modern sensibility never intrudes on the story - she allows the characters to reveal the cruelty and inequality at the heart of their world.
With its strong female voices and period setting, The Night Flower reminds me of Jane Harris' The Corrections and the equally riveting Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, and deserves equal standing with both. It is also one of those books like Tess of the D'Urbervilles where much as you might wish for a happier ending, you readily accept that the one you've got is entirely right for the story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written book.....enjoyed the journey.....well crafted ending...loved the main character, hope the author keeps writing I would definitely buy her books.Published on 3 April 2014 by jill spence
A different use of words made the different character's stand out. You could feel the poverty and injustice in the story. A very enjoyable read.Published on 18 Oct. 2013 by Margaret Middleton