Wednesday 1 April 2020

#BlogTour The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth

Today it's my turn on the BlogTour The Philosopher's Daughters by Alison Booth.
About the Author
Bornin Melbourne and brought up in Sydney, Alison spent over two decades studying, living and working in the UK before returning to Australia some fifteen years ago.

Her ancestors came to Australia from England and Scotland at the end of the 1800s, before Federation in 1901. Indeed, in 1891, when the novel starts, 32% of the Australian population were born overseas, mostly in the UK. Alison grew up fascinated by the thought that Australia once comprised small colonies, teetering on the edge of the vast continent, and wanted in this new novel to travel back in time to view it through the eyes of two strong young women. The tales of Alison's late father, Norman Booth, about his years in the Northern Territory also awakened her interest in the Northern Territory.

Her debut novel, Stillwater Creek, was Highly Commended in the 2011 ACT Book of the Year Award, and afterwards published in Reader's Digest elect Editions in Asia and in Europe. Alison's other novels are The Indigo Sky (2011), A Distant Land (2012), and A Perfect Marriage (2018).
Alison is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. In November 2019, Alison was made Fellow of the Econometric Society, a prestigious international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics.

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About the book
A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession.

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters' lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life's work or devote herself to painting.

When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the Northern territory outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life.

Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand seeking revenge.

It's easy to forget the history of Australia, especially when the narrative is usually one of sunshine, waves and living life with more joy. Spiders the size of dogs and in general many things that can kill you. Oh wait, those aren't positives.

My point is the history behind the building of the country we know now is often whitewashed and swept under the carpet. More than 270 frontier massacres over the space of 140 years. A state-sanctioned attempt to eradicate Aboriginal people. The conspiracy of police and settlers to keep silent and change the narrative of these awful events and history. That's not what people think of when Australia is mentioned.

Booth incorporates this conspiracy of silence into her story of two sisters, who try to rebuild their lives in Australia and find themselves confronted with atrocities and hatred. Harriet in particular connects emotionally to the fate of the indigenous people and creates bonds that people frown upon.

It's historical fiction with factual history at the core.

The strength of this story is the way the author  gives her readers an excellent visual with her descriptions. Really capturing the relentless heat, the difficult geographical conditions, the extreme isolation and harsh living conditions.

Booth also speaks to the inequality between the different genders, women's rights, violence and the amount of strength settlers needed to live, survive and eventually thrive in their country of choice. It's a multi-layered story, so as a reader you have to take a breath and let it sink in, and sometimes read between the lines of this ambitious historical novel.

Buy The Philosopher's Daughters at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Red Door Press; 2 April 2020.

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