Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Planter's Daughter by Jo Carroll

It's 1848. And Sara, aged fourteen, must leave her family in the stinking potato fields of Ireland to seek a better life with her wealthy aunt in Liverpool. But her Uncle has different ideas.
Will she find solace among the dockers? She finds love, but becomes embroiled in the unrest of the Irish men and women who live in squalor in the Liverpool slums. Yet her efforts to help them only enrage her uncle further.
Her escape takes her to the other side of the world. But there is no comfort in the dusty outback of Australia nor in the gold fields of New Zealand. For she has left behind something more precious to her than life itself.

We first meet Sara when she arrives at her aunt and uncle's front door in Liverpool in 1948. Penniless and sent by her parents to Liverpool to escape the potato famine in Ireland and hopefully send some money back home to them. This part of the story is told through the eyes of Kitty the housemaid. 
Sarah soon discovers that her aunt had been telling her father only half truths about her family and household she also finds out that her uncle is not such a gentleman as he is thought to be.
After betraying Kitty, Sara  finds herself in a terrible position. With no option but to do as she is told she suddenly finds herself being deported to Australia where she vows to do everything in her power to get back home to what she left behind.

It is now 1852 and Australia. This part of the story is told by Grace, a widow with children and stepsons. She is religious, pious and takes in Sara to help around the house. She wants Sara to repent and to become as religious as she is and although Sarah plays along she has no intention of staying with Grace forever.
Many life changing events happen in Sara's life that she has no control over as she struggles to save money for a passage back to Liverpool. 
The last part of the book is told by Sara herself and it takes us back to her home in Ireland and the reasons she has to leave her family. If I said this was heartbreaking I wouldn't be using a strong enough word. I had no idea just what the Irish people went through at that time. Men, woman and children  dying at the side of the road, the Protestant Church refusing to help or feed starving Cathlics unless they became Protestants,oh the list goes on. 
There is lots more to this story and I have only gave you the bare bones of it because you are far better finding out the rest for yourselves. The ending was a complete surprise and I couldn't get it out of my head.

Well this is the year of the good books! 
This is a debut novel by Jo Carrol who has written previous books on her traveling exploits but this is her first fiction book.
During her travels to New Zealand Jo visited a museum and that's where she found a short biography of Barbara Weldon. All she knew about her was that she was born in Ireland, moved to Liverpool during the potato famine and ended up in Australia and New Zealand. Jo then wove her fiction story through this.
I loved this book so much, I went from disliking Sara to admiring her and then my heart breaking for her. Her life was probably similar to so many young women in those days who had to fight for their very survival. Jo has excelled herself in this novel and I hope she has many more stories to tell.
If I was to compare Jo to another writer I would say she writes like Lesley Pearse. They both write books about strong woman fighting through adversity. 
This book is only for kindle as it is self published, so skip your fancy coffee for a day and support indi publishing and have a great read.

1 comment:

  1. I know I'm going to enjoy this when I can get to read it, Anne! It sounds brilliant!


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