Imagine if you will, being among the first settlers to a foreign country, alone. No parents, friends, relatives. Just you.
It’s a terrifying concept, one which central character – Marina – of Ann Whitehead’s beautifully written Waratah House faces.
After a traumatic journey from “the motherland” Marina finds herself as a maid, at a beautiful mansion in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Finding a new family in those she works with and the family she works for, it seems as though the horrors of the past are well behind her.
But, not everything is as it seems.
The reader then joins the story, years later, with Marina’s daughter Emily.
She finds that her mother’s past has come to haunt her and it’s up to her to fight for her right of her own happiness and prosperity and what a struggle she has. Emily’s determination and strong-will, will leave you cheering her on.
Whitehead instantly transports the reader back to our fledgling country with her descriptive prose – without going overboard with bygone language. The female characters in Waratah House show how much determination to succeed was needed in the early days of settlement in Australia.
I found this book to be rather lacking in male characters, with only a few highlighted and at best their qualities weren’t as great as the women. Perhaps that’s the point? To highlight just how hard the women worked during this time and put some perspective on their roles during the early settlement.
Waratah House is a real page turner and if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey (as I am!) you’ll find it very hard to put this book down.
Avaliable now: Penguin RRP$29.95