THIS is author Carol Jones’ second novel after her highly-engaging debut work, The Concubine’s Child.
The story is set in 1850s China and Australia, and revolves around two female protagonists who come to Australia for very different reasons.
The core of the story is survival, and what lengths one would go in order to do so.
Violet Hartley is escaping a scandal in England and becomes a governess in Robetown, South Australia.
Determined to land a husband and a comfortable life, Violent inadvertedly neglects her duties, which leads to tragedy.
Unemployed, she begs the man she has set her sights on, Thomas Lewis, to take her on a long trek to a mining town with newly-arrived Chinese labourers.
In China, Little Cat kills her would-be rapist and makes her way to Australia, with the murdered man’s son vowing revenge in order for his father’s soul to rest in peace.
She ends up being part of a group of labourers that Thomas is escorting. However, her past soon catches up to her.
Along their way, both protagonists find their lives intertwined, and soon jealousy sets in due to insecurities.
The story is engaging and Jones has created very believable characters who try to defy their respective destinies.