Monday, April 25, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Daughter of Australia by Harmony Verna

I’ve been waiting for this one! Daughter of Australia by Harmony Verna is an epic historical novel set in Australia in the early twentieth century.

Leonora is orphaned at a very young age. Her earliest memory is being abandoned by her father in the baking heat of the desert. If not for the fortuitous passage of a Good Samaritan (a one-time miner, now laboring wherever he can find work), Leonora would never have survived. She is sent to an orphanage to be brought up by a gentle priest who is fighting his own demons.

At the orphanage, she makes one friend, a boy named James who has been there since infancy. James can’t abide cruelty and when he sees the other children mistreating Leonora, he takes her under his wing.

The orphanage is far from idyllic, but it’s much better than what life has in store. James is discovered by an aunt who comes from Ireland to claim him. A sturdy, strong, patient boy, James is set to hard labor in the unforgiving Australian farmland. Leonora is adopted by a wealthy American couple and is moved to the United States. Although provided with every material comfort, Leonora is denied any semblance of warmth. Her life is controlled every minute by a woman who seems bent on wringing any sense of self from Leonora. Perhaps the woman’s cruelest action is to coerce Leonora into marrying a wealthy, cruel man whom Leonora could never love.

The lives of these two protagonists is about as bitterly unhappy as two people could be. But they are resilient.

Leonora’s husband’s job takes them to Australia where she blossoms, finding strength as she rediscovers who she is. Fate brings James back into her life, offering hope to them both.

This is a lush love story set against the backdrop of a harshly beautiful frontier. The struggles of the characters are heart-breaking and you’ll find yourself rooting for goodness to triumph over cruelty.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the wonderful review, Susan! - Harmony Verna