Wednesday 26 May 2021

Book Review: A Far Distant Land by David Field

A Far Distant Land by David Field book cover

AD* | A journey to a new world, but can you ever leave your old life behind...?

Australia, 1788

After eight long months at sea, The Lady Penryn has docked in Australia – transporting over 100 female convicts from England. Amongst them is a young woman calling herself Mary Murphy, serving seven years for offences of dishonesty.

Second Lieutenant Daniel Bradbury of New South Wales Marine Corps, looking to start a new life in Australia, is in charge of the female prisoners. And when Mary is bullied on board, he steps in and rescues her.

As the passengers come ashore and begin creating the new settlement of Port Jackson, Mary and Daniel grow closer, but it soon becomes clear that Mary is not who she first pretended to be.

The unfamiliar and unforgiving climate, the ever-present threat of native attack, and the residual snobbery of the old English society that travelled with them across the Equator, combine to throw obstacles in the path of this new settlement. And growing tensions threaten to pull Daniel and Mary apart.

But in the end, nothing can stand in the way of what destiny has prescribed for them...

A Far Distant Land is the first book in a new, sweeping historical saga.

The book is set in Australia and tells the tale of the first British settlers arriving on the unfamiliar island. Part fact and part fiction, A Far Distant Land effortlessly blends the two to create an engaging story spanning multiple decades and countries. It details the birth of a new era for Australia and its new inhabitants. 

Each character has their own reasons for travelling to Australia. Some are convicts - forced to spend eight months at sea in unthinkable conditions, just to end up as slave labour, breaking their backs at the mercy of the elements once they arrive. Others are running from a past they would rather forget. Others still are opportunists, hoping the new world will bring opportunities for wealth, power, and status. Despite their original intentions, though, it soon becomes clear that class and money mean nothing when you must work together to survive. 

From supply shortages to convict mutinies, changeable leadership, and problems with "the natives", the colonists certainly don't have it easy - and that's without even factoring in the difficult environment and unforgiving surroundings. 

There are a lot of characters in this book, and it can get quite hard to remember who's who! Despite this, though, the main characters are all interesting individuals and it's a pleasure to read about their adventures. When you stop to consider that some of these are real people and real events that happened, it's even more special. 

Engaging and well researched, A Far Distant Land is an enjoyable foray into the first days of modern Australia.

Rating: 3 stars

A Far Distant Land is available to buy now. 

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!