Fled by Meg Keneally

FledTitle: Fled

Author: Meg Keneally

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Echo Publishing

Published: 15th April 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 394

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: Jenny Trelawney is no ordinary thief. Forced by poverty to live in the forest, she becomes a successful highwaywoman – until her luck runs out.

Transported to Britain’s furthest colony, Jenny must tackle new challenges and growing responsibilities. And when famine hits the new colony, Jenny becomes convinced that those she most cares about will not survive. She becomes the leader in a grand plot of escape, but is survival any more certain in a small open boat on an unknown ocean?

Meg Keneally’s debut solo novel is an epic historical adventure based on the extraordinary life of convict Mary Bryant.

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Meg Keneally’s debut novel, Fled, is a fictionalised account of Mary Bryant’s daring escape from the colony of Sydney Cove in 1791, after her 1788 transportation. In Fled, Meg has created the character Jenny Trelawney as her Mary Bryant stand in, and has used facts and instances from Mary’s life – such as the names and birthdates of her children  – Charlotte and Emanuel, some of her family life and their names back in Cornwall (or Penmor for Jenny), and the main event, her daring escape to Coepang from Sydney Cove.

Following her father’s death. Jenny Trelawney, facing poverty, becomes a highwaywoman. She succeeds for months, until a brutal attack lands her in jail, on trial and soon sees her being transported with the First Fleet to Sydney Cove, where she marries Dan Gwyn to protect her daughter, Charlotte. They are eventually joined by son, Emanuel.

When famine hits shortly after, Jenny helps to hatch a daring escape plan with a few other convicts and her family, and they begin their journey towards Coepang (Kupang now) in what was then a Dutch colony in Timor, where they manage to hide out for months. Their journey is fraught with dangers, and Jenny worries about their survival, but as a mother, she feels she is saving her children from a worse fate in what to them, was a desolate colonial existence.

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Using Jenny Trelawney to tell Mary Bryant’s story is a clever way to explore a time in Australia’s history where the voices of those invaded the Indigenous people and those forced to go to the colony – the convicts – are often ignored. We get one woman’s story here, but it is a glimpse into what life was like for these people, both living an unwanted existence following the arrival of the First Fleet. It was an era of colonialism, where only the free and powerful had any voice and ability to write history. So for many years, this was the history that was taught. In recent years, a surge in stories about the people whose voices were often left out, relegated into a single group experience – which differed from group to group – are getting a chance to shine.

And this is where books like Fled come in. Not only are we getting to read about the convict experience but are seeing depictions of how some of the convicts might have interacted with the local Indigenous people, and how the convicts didn’t want to be there at all. It is also giving women of the time a voice. Whilst there may be stories about male convicts, like much of history, the voices of the women who suffered and struggled alongside them are absent. Women like Jenny Trelawney and Mary Bryant are often silent, unless they did something of significance or something significant happened to them. In this instance, we may end up knowing their name and their general story, but their voice is still not always present. Here, Jenny at least is given a voice, and I hope to see more stories like this – from convict and Indigenous perspectives – coming out to give balance to the historical record.

Reading this book, I could smell the seas, feel the rocking of the boats, and see, smell and hear all the unease of the new colony, and its makeshift huts and how they had to start navigating a world they never thought they would have to encounter.

Whilst this falls under historical fiction, it also suits one of my book bingo categories, a fictional biography of a woman from history, which I am stretching a bit, yet I feel like it fits well here. I will post that book bingo post later in the year, as the next several posts are already written and scheduled.

Another great book by an Australian woman, that is written very evocatively, and has power and emotion behind it.

Book Bingo Thirteen – Themes of Inequality

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And just like that, it is the 22nd of June and I’ve hit the half way point of my book bingo challenge with Amanda and Theresa – and to tick this square off, I am using themes of inequality. There are many avenues to go down for this category, I chose The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer.

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The Things We Cannot Say is a dual timeline story – set in present times in some parts, whilst travelling back to World War Two Poland, where a Catholic family does all they can to stand up against the Nazi regime and help the Jewish refugees hiding away, and trying to smuggle them out of Poland to safety. Coupled with this is the story of a grandmother who has had a stroke, and an autistic boy. Inequality is shown in many forms in this book: a father not understanding his disabled son’s needs, a regime that hated people based on belief and a many other nuanced inequalities that somehow combine together to create a  story  based on the author’s family, leading to these inequalities being examined and resolutions reached. Another great book for this challenge.

Row Three:

Themes of Science Fiction: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday*

Themes of Culture:

Themes of Justice: What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – AWW2019

Themes of Inequality: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – AWW2019

Themes of Fantasy: Vardaesia by Lynette Noni – AWW2019

BINGO!

I have read a book for each category in Row Four Down – a couple of these posts are yet to go live but this post and the bingo week posts for these books will reflect gaining a bingo.

Row Four: – BINGO

Novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Memoir about a non-famous person: Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Themes of inequality: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019          

Written by an author over the age of 65: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – #AWW2019*

Romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

The above says BINGO – I have filled all these categories but will post my bingo post when the final book is added to the challenge. Keep an eye out for the next post in two weeks!

Book Bingo Twelve – A Novella no more than 150 pages

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Another fortnight, and that means round twelve of Book Bingo 2019 with Theresa and Amanda, and the first for June. Wow, that rolled around fast! This week, I am ticking off a novella no less than 150 pages – and being a little sneaky about it and using a kids book that is less than 150 pages, as I have been struggling to find a novella – everything seems to end up being too long for this one so far, hence my choice to go this way.

I chose the first book of the Deltora Quest series, The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda for this one. A very popular series in the early 2000s and even now, it was one of those series that was always out at the library, so when I stumbled across the hardcover omnibus version, I grabbed it and have been working my way through it, reviewing each book individually with a plan to do a whole series review at the end as well.

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Lief has lived his entire life in a world where the Shadow Lord reigns, and where the Belt of Deltora has been lost, as have its magical gems. His parents, Anna and Jarred, send him on a quest to find each of the gems to restore power to the rightful heir and throne, and to bring peace back to the land of Del for all.

In the Lake of Tears, Lief will meet Jasmine as he seeks the Topaz with his companion, Barda, and from there, the trio will journey on towards other locations across the kingdom. In this fantasy series aimed at kids aged nine and older, there is something for everyone and it fits in perfectly as a novella.

Row One:

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019*

Beloved Classic: Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner – AWW2018

A novel that has more than 500 pages:

A novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Prize winning book:

BINGO!

I have read a book for each category in Row Four Down – a couple of these posts are yet to go live but this post and the bingo week posts for these books will reflect gaining a bingo. Row Four: – BINGO

Novella no more than 150 pages: Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda – #AWW2019

Memoir about a non-famous person: Australia’s Sweetheart by Michael Adams

Themes of inequality: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019          

Written by an author over the age of 65: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s Brilliant Career began by Libby Hathorn – #AWW2019*

Romance: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Well, that brings me to the end of another book bingo fortnight and post, I’ll be back with more in two weeks.

Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Women Doctors of the Great War by Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee

women to the frontTitle: Women to the Front: The Extraordinary Women Doctors of the Great War

Author: Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Ebury Press/Penguin Random House

Published: 2nd April 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 320

Price: $34.99

Synopsis:At the outbreak of World War I, 129 women were registered as medical practitioners in Australia, and many of them were eager to contribute their skills and expertise to the war effort. For the military establishment, however, the notion of women doctors serving on the battlefield was unthinkable. Undaunted, at least twenty-four Australian women doctors ignored official military policy and headed to the frontlines.
This book explores the stories of the Australian women who served as surgeons, pathologists, anaesthetists and medical officers between 1914 and 1919. Despite saving hundreds of lives, their experiences are almost totally absent from official military records, both in Australia and Great Britain, and many of their achievements have remained invisible for over a century. Until now.
Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee have compiled a fascinating and meticulously researched account of the Great War, seen through the eyes of these women and their essential work. From the Eastern to the Western Fronts, to Malta, and to London, we bear witness to the terrible conditions, the horrific injuries, the constant danger, and above all, the skill and courage displayed by this group of remarkable Australians. Women to the Front is a war story unlike any other.

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I spent many years in high school and university studying history – modern and ancient, and across Australia, Europe and the Middle East, Rome and Greece when it came to Ancient History – at least when it came to courses. Beyond that, I have tried to read diversely, to fill in the gaps of a predominantly male driven historical record where women and other groups were not always present, or at least, not acknowledged. The one course I studied that was perhaps the most diverse – yet still concise due to the twelve week semester – was women’s history, where each lesson covered a different aspect and practice across the world, and where our further reading, text books and assignments gave a broader view of practices such as foot binding, sati, or widow burning, and many others that informed and built on my knowledge.

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Yet when it came to Australian history, I heard about the suffragettes but I learnt about them in depth in Society and Culture, and learned much more about World War One and Two in history – from the Australian, British and German perspectives across years ten, eleven and twelve. I learned about the causes, the battles, and the key figures. I learned that women were part of the war effort on the home front and as nurses – but not much else.

So when I came across Women to the Front, I was overjoyed because here was the book that would have made some of what I studied more interesting. Here, I discovered one hundred and twenty-nine women doctors went to the various theatres of war as surgeons and anaesthetists, pathologists and medical officers – not just nurses. These one hundred and twenty-nine women did not let the patriarchal system wear them down or chase them from the medical profession – they pushed forward, became doctors in the decades leading up to the war and volunteered to go.

At first, of course, they were often denied. They were called ‘lady doctors’, the assumption being they couldn’t handle the battlefield reality the men heading over would face. Of course, these 129 women went on to prove the society wrong. These women were serving their country and doing their jo, a job they loved doing and that at the time, was probably not as common as it is today, due to societal expectations from parents, and all those around them, often based on class. Books like this – fiction and non-fiction, driven by women and what they can do, not just romance, are amongst my favourite because they fly in the face of what is expected or assumed women will do and like. Allowing girls and women to read and access stories like this is important because it allows them to see what they can do and be beyond what popular culture often shows.

Their stories are collected here in five parts, each divided into a year of the war, and from there, into chapters that are then divided by theatre and location for each woman or several women who worked together. From Gallipoli to Ypres and Passchendaele, the battlefields of France and Belgium, and the many men they helped and treated after battles, this book tells the stories that I wish we had learned about in history, or at least been given a side box on in text books to investigate on our own for assignments – which I tried to do for one on war memorials in Sydney – but found that for the one I wanted to do, I could not access enough information to write a decent report.

These days, we are getting more diverse historical accounts, and whilst many of these women were white and had British heritage, it is still important to read and know these stories – it shows that the war was experienced by more than just men at the front or doctors. So these stories about women doctors from Ruth Lee and Heather Sheard are an important addition to the historical record, and could be used as a text book, or even placed on a reading list for a history course that touches on or focuses on World War One.

At the end of the book, there is a biography of each woman. Some are shorter than others, so much like anyone in history, sometimes more is known about one than another, yet each has their own unique story. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I’m continuously seeking the untold histories that were either ignored or erased by those who wrote the history books.

Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began by Libby Hathorn

Miss Frankin.jpgTitle: Miss Franklin: How Miles Franklin’s brilliant career began

Author: Libby Hathorn

Genre: Historical Picture Book

Publisher: Hachette/Lothian

Published: 28th May 2019

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 32

Price: $26.99

Synopsis: A fascinating story about Miles Franklin, one of Australian literature’s most significant women, written by one of the biggest names in children’s literature.

This is a story about iconic Australian writer Stella Miles Franklin, namesake of two major literary prizes, during her brief but formative time as a governess in rural New South Wales. Teenager Stella Miles Franklin has to work to help support her family. Stella is unhappy in her job and longs for the freedom and excitement of city life. While working, she meets a young orphan girl, Imp, who is almost as feisty as Stella herself, and who spurs the older girl to follow her dreams.

Inspired by events in Miles Franklin’s lifeMISS FRANKLIN is told by multi-award-winning author Libby Hathorn and acclaimed illustrator Phil Lesnie and includes a facts page about Stella Miles Franklin.

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Picture books are not something I review often – but when I do, they are ones that I simply fall in love with and that have an empowering, and important message in them. Recently Hachette sent me a new picture book by Libby Hathorn, about Miles Franklin and her journey to becoming an author.

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As a teenager, Miles Franklin had to take on a governess job to earn money for her family. In this story, she encounters a young girl named Imp, who seems disinterested in learning yet afraid of something at the same time. Miles manages to draw Imp out of her shell, and together, they both learn that it is okay to take a chance – and this leads to Miles getting her first novel published by Henry Lawson.

Picture books like this introduce children to history and people that sometimes are never encountered, and at other times, only encountered in adulthood. Now, children will have the chance to meet her at a young age and find out more about who she is as they get older. The accompanying illustrations suit the story text and the historical setting of the story.

It is as much a story about encouraging you to follow your dreams as it is about how Miles got to where she did and became such a well-known author that we now have a prize for women authors named after her: The Stella Prize. This is the kind of picture book I would have adored when I was younger because it is so different to what is usually out there and there seems to be a trend these days for picture books centred around history and significant women in history, and I hope this trend grows.

Book Bingo Eleven – A place in the title

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Welcome to my eleventh book bingo with Theresa and Amanda. This time, I am checking off a book with a place in the title. I had intended to add this in last fortnight, but checking to see how everything would fit in has me aiming to do one square per post for the next fourteen posts to make sure everything is spread evenly.

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The asterixed titles are ones that are going to appear in future posts. It looks like I only have four slots left to fill, so hopefully I can stretch what I have left to the end of the year, as we have planned with this card. However, where a text row has BINGO next to it, I have added in my bingo graphic to reflect this, and will do the same when the relevant post goes up as well.

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My square was a book with a place in the title. This one was going to be easy to fill, but hard to choose as there are many books that have a place in the title. I chose Natasha Lester’s latest, The French Photographer. Set during World War Two, it follows the story of Jess May, inspired by Lee Miller as she heads into various war zones and camps across France, and encounters sexism, an orphan and societal expectations that she refuses to bow down to. When she meets Victorine, Jess’s life will change – i many ways. The book flashes between the 1940s and the present day, leading to a storyline that is tragically beautiful and uniting, highlighting the importance of friendship, love and family throughout the ages and generations. I also had the chance to interview Natasha as part of the blog tour, and the interview can be found here.

Row Four:

Book with a place in the title: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester -AWW2019

Book set in the Australian Outback:

Book set on the Australian Coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Book set in the Australian Mountains: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers – AWW2019

Book set in an exotic location: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – #AWW2019

BINGO!

I have read a book for each category in Row One Down – a couple of these posts are yet to go live but this post and the bingo week posts for these books will reflect gaining a bingo.

Rows Down:

Row One:  – Bingo

A book with a red cover: Children of the Dragon: Race for the Red Dragon by Rebecca Lim – #AWW2019*

Book by an author with the same initials as you:

Themes of science fiction: The Lost Magician by Piers Torday*

Book with a place in the title: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester -AWW2019

Written by an Australian man: The Honeyman and the Hunter by Neil Grant*

Literary: Zebra and Other Stories by Debra Adelaide – AWW2019

Row three:

Novel that has 500 pages or more:

Fictional biography about a woman from history:

Themes of justice: What Lies Beneath Us by Kirsty Ferguson – AWW2019

Book set on the Australian coast: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion – AWW2019

Written by an author under the age of 35: Archibald, The Naughtiest Elf in the World Causes Trouble with the Easter Bunny by Skye Davidson – #AWW2019*

Historical: The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Well, that’s another fortnight down – come back next week for more book bingo!

Lintang and the Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss

Lintang 1Title: Lintang and the Pirate Queen

Author: Tamara Moss

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Published: 31st July 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

Price: $16.99

Synopsis:Lintang dreams of having adventures on the high seas.

When a deadly mythie attacks the same day the infamous Captain Shafira visits her island, Lintang gets her chance, defending her village with a bravery that earns her a place on the pirate queen’s ship.

But they’ve barely left the island when Lintang discovers her best friend, Bayani, has stowed away. Telling Captain Shafira means betraying her friend, but keeping Bayani’s secret risks everything . . . including their lives.

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Lintang of the Twin Islands is adventurous, a quality her teacher and parents are trying to keep her in line, so their worlds remain calm. Yet one day, Lintang’s island is visited by a mythie called malam rasha, or night terror. Lintang defeats the malam rasha against advice and is chosen by Captain Shafira to join her on a voyage. What that voyage is exactly, is revealed slowly, and this adds to the excitement whilst reading the book to find out where they are headed.

When Lintang discovers that her friend, Bayani has stowed away, she must keep him safe and not reveal his location to the captain. When he is discovered, Lintang finds herself relegated to a position where Bayani doesn’t share anything with her and has secrets with Shafira – secrets that will lead to the climax of the novel and unearth secrets about the mythies that nobody saw coming, nor does everyone seem to understand.

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Shafira, Bayani and Lintang are led on a dangerous journey to uncover various secrets that nobody ever knew existed, or were possible, to a land where the strict rules mean they cannot seek refuge, but must help uncover a deception that has leaked into the crew – and that will lead to events that almost have tragic consequences.

The first in a series I would like to continue, this is an exciting series with a female lead that all readers can engage with and follow her adventures. It combines diversity, with mythology, pirates, and draws on traditions and languages present in our world to create the world Lintang inhabits.