This novel follows on from The Secret River taking the life story of the daughter of an original pioneer convict family transported to Australia forward into an intriguing love story. The story is told in the voice of Sarah Thornhill whose passionate love for a half-caste aboriginal cuts into the terrifying racial prejudice of the early settlers battling with their own convict pasts, the intractable wilderness of unexplored Australia and their utter incomprehension of the 'savages' who lands they have usurped. Sarah has to face truths about her own father's past that prove to be more devastating than his convict status. The novel is built on meticulous historical research and skillfully re-creates the struggling lives of the first white Australians. The voice of illiterate Sarah who is telling the story of her life is sometimes too reductive and monosyllabic in the author's reaching for authenticity - just mildly irritating - and the final journey that Sarah takes to redeem her father's racist crime turns into the stuff of fable rather than the iron realism that holds this fascinating novel together.
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