I’ve just finished reading an amazing book. Books that I mention on this blog are all special, but this one is extra special and I’m shouting about it from every rooftop I can find.

Here’s my review:

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I was in Liverpool, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland – not now, but nearly two hundred years ago. Actually, I’ve only been to one of those places and what I saw in no way prepared me for what I read in this book. The descriptions are so vivid, the scenes so real that I felt I was there with the characters, through all their hopes and suffering.

I’ve never read a historical story that has held my attention as this one did. Most historical fiction has sections that are less interesting, that I have to struggle through to move on to more appealing parts. But this novel captivated me throughout.

I’ve read Jo Carroll’s travel memoirs, but never realised she was capable of this. I salute her and sincerely hope she’s planning more novels like this one.

Blurb

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 the gold fields of New Zealand. For she has left behind something more precious to her than life itself.

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I offered to proofread this book. In the end, I fell in love with it and did a lot more than proofreading. I suppose what I did was closer to editing. Not that it needed a lot of editing. The author obviously has extensive background knowledge and has worked hard to weave an intriguing plot round the places and things he describes, with the help of some believable and well-rounded characters.

In addition, this novel tackles a difficult topic that needs to be discussed more: the exploitation of youthful beauty – the sale of children’s images.

David Rory O’Neill blogs here, and you can see descriptions of all his novels on his blog.

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There’s going to be a gap on this blog while I catch up with real life. I’ll be back next month.