I found the novel an interesting
historical read, the product of careful research that resurrects the era.
Day-to-day existence for a woman in the new mining communities was very hard.
Hannah’s life is dictated by circumstances beyond her control, yet her society
judges her because of them.
It was a very good book. I
enjoyed it. The one thing separating it from something that would have really
gripped me was that there was often too much distraction away from Hannah.
Distress and catastrophe pile thickly on top of each other, there are a lot of
minor characters and copious dialogue. This is not a criticism. Much of the
dialogue was very clever, often written in dialect as an aid to
But I felt that Hannah must grip
the reader’s imagination a little more. The essence of who she is needs to
drive the novel. In other words, Hannah’s internal life is important to me (and
I confess to being someone who reads for emotion). I wanted to cry with her, to
mourn her pain, her grief, and to celebrate what hopes she was allowed, and I
couldn’t quite do that. She seems to me a pragmatic young lady. When attacked
by misfortune, she picks herself up and gets on with things. And perhaps she
needed to be that way to survive. I was haunted, however, by the death of her
mother that commenced her adventures. Was Hannah frightened that she might meet
the same end: a hard life and just one blow too many? Indeed, the spectre of
death hung over the novel and, at one stage, I thought that it would end like
the beginning, with Hannah cracking, too.
The sequel comes out next year,
and that will be something to look forward to.
In : Book Reviews