This review is dedicated to Henry Roi for being the smooth talker and getting me to read this book when he knew I have a huge list.
A beautiful rendition of prose which had me read it with wondrous eyes as the landscapes of New Zealand slowly revealed its stark beauty and struggles to me.
2 sisters were separated by land when Isobel migrated to Auckland with her husband Brendan, and Esther was left in England with their mom. Then Esther decided to sail to New Zealand as she needed help. But what awaited her was a shocker. There were lies and heartbreaks, secrets and struggles, and both sisters had now to discover what they meant to each other. Would the conditions of the land and the lack of freedom for women make or break these women?
My first book by Rebecca Burns, the author had me slowly opening myself to the nuances of the story. The characterization of the two sisters were quite different, and the lies that separated them widened the chasm. Isobel had painted a grander picture of her life in her letters to Esther about everything in her life. I loved the way Esther’s shock at these discovies slowly sepeed into me. I could understand both the sisters well as the story progressed.
Set in the early 19th century, the description of the land felt raw. The realities of life for women in Auckland were not coated over, but told to me slowly embedded into the story of the sisters. They looked back on their lives, their memories made it a bittersweet read. Their realities seemed tougher than I thought I knew. They had to depend on each other and take a risk to find a better life.
The author is a great sthoryteller, who pulled me in with the depth of her writing. I don’t even read this genre, but once started, I needed to know what happened to the sisters. There were moments when my breath hitched on the events shown, where my mind was left troubled. The author could definitely pull my emotions when the twists were revealed.
Written in 2 parts in alternating POV, the story told me the journey of the sisters as they traveled across the land to find their destination. A beautiful, poignant read.
I received a free ARC from Henry and Publisher Odyssey Books, and this is my journey into its pages, straight from the heart!! STRICTLY HONEST AND UNBIASED.
All my reviews can be read here
Rebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories, over thirty of which have been published online or in print. Her short story collections-Catching the Barramundi and The Settling Earth-were both longlisted for the prestigious Edge Hill Short Story Award, the UK’s only prize for short story collections. The Bishop’s Girl, her first novel, was published in September 2016. Artefacts and Other Stories, her third collection of short stories, was published in September 2017. Beyond the Bay is her fifth published work.
Auckland at the turn of the century. A city on the cusp of change. Isobel, a settler of ten years, waits for her sister to cross the ocean to join her. Separated by distance, disappointments and secrets, the women reunite in a land where the rules of home do not apply. Women push for the vote and the land offers opportunity and a future for those brave enough to take it. But some secrets run too deep, some changes too shocking to embrace. Against this backdrop of uncertainty and promise, Isobel and Esther have to determine what – and who – means most.
Publication Date: 19th September 2018