It is often a spur-of-the-moment decision that can become a turning point in life. So it is for Kitty Morland, a young woman in London in 1878.
When she yields to temptation one fateful day, the consequences of her action force her to flee to Australia, hoping to join her brother.
On the other side of the world, she meets two men–William, an expatriate English aristocrat, and Rufe, a charismatic Colonial entrepreneur involved with trading in diamonds and in the goldfields.
Beautiful and spirited, Kitty needs all her courage and determination to survive the ordeal of marriage to William, a bullying husband. When he is drowned it leaves her alone to give birth to a daughter and to run a timber-cutting business in a male-dominated era that considers a woman only as an obedient homemaker and bed-warmer.
When she is offered a chance at love and happiness with Rufe, will she make the right decision?
Once I adjusted my expectations, A Woman of Spirit was a solid read that begins in Victorian England and concludes in colonial Australia.
I expected this to be more historical romance than general historical fiction (it was tagged “romance” on NetGalley). It turns out it is a family saga, complete with a to be continued at the end.
I love both the Victorian era and women-centric books concerning colonial Australia, and this was solidly researched on both counts. The main character has to flee England after false accusations against her, and after actually committing a crime that might get her in very serious trouble.
I will say that the idea she came up with to hide the evidence of her theft was a little… it made me queasy (think modern-day drug mules)!
The woman and her mother reach New South Wales fairly early in the story, and the real plot begins there. I did find it a bit odd that one of the first people they met in Sydney knew their family back in England, and recognised them by their surname! There were tens of millions of people in Britain in the late 1870s, and Australia was working its way up to a million.
If you read the blurb put out by the publisher, you are going to learn almost the entire plot. I’m not sure this is a good way to sell a book, giving everything away at the start.
However, this was solid historical fiction. I am appreciating that publishers are starting to take chances on books set in 19th century Australia. Variety is always good!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.