I adored this book! I am disappointed now that I waited so long to read it. It had been sitting on my shelf for about two years!
I was in the mood for an Australian story and this story is set in the early 1900s in NSW. Jessica is treated by her father as the boy he never had, and he takes her shearing. There she meets shearers, Jack and Billy, who become her best friends. An accident early in the story leaves one of the men with a head injury while the other goes off to war. Jessica discovers she is pregnant and her sister says she is too, although she is not. Jessica's mother and sister are vicious to her and they are not very nice to other people either. Quite evil, in fact. Jessica's father at least has a heart, but even he becomes entangled in his wife's web
of lies and betrayal.
This is a novel of hardship and determination, with a beautiful story of everlasting love between Jessica and her sweetheart. There is also a very powerful story of Aboriginal rights, which is mostly played out near the end of the book, and almost seems like a separate novel altogether.
Courtenay links it back to Jessica's story in the end.
This is a magnificent tale with vivid characters, an intriguing storyline, and a pertinent study of values. Jessica's mother is one of the most self-obsessed villains in literature, and Jessica is one of the most memorable female heroes. This is a must-read book!
My rating *****