Teenager Hanne and her family, along with most of their community, escape religious persecution in nineteenth century Prussia to make their home in South Australia. Hanne’s close friend Thea and her family also make the journey, and the girls begin to have deep feelings for each other. Disease, hunger and overcrowding make the six-month voyage a harrowing one, and there are tragedies. When they arrive in South Australia the families work hard to start farming on the Indigenous Australian’s land.
BOOK SNAPS: This is not conventional historical fiction. Set in the nineteenth century, it is more about the love story between Hanne and Thea, and is written with a supernatural component. This is a unique and unforgettable story with surprising turns, and with much emotion. The Guardian thinks the author “skims over its racial politics with regard to the displacement of indigenous people in Australia“, but I think, (like Arts Hub: “the representation of colonial history seeps into the story from an unusual narrative space that neither denies nor condones, Australia’s brutal colonial past” that she hits just the right note.
“Somewhere in the press of time, I was caught, and now I remain here, like a flower turned to paper, untethered to the soil.”
“Unlike much of the forest across the ranges, the valley was open country, expansive, interrupted only by immense gum trees that drew the eyes skywards and stretched the throat.”
Author: Hannah Kent