A powerful, emotionally charged, and sometimes unsettling period piece.
By Anne Vines ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2023
Elizabeth’s story of resilience and survival is the focus of Vines’ historical drama. Set in Protestant-ascendant Ireland in 1792, Elizabeth is sent away to a manor in the countryside to work as a housemaid, only to suffer sexual abuse at the hands of the men in the household. Despite her love for Michael, a stable boy, he is unwilling to accept her after learning of the abuse. Elizabeth is then swept up in a mass arrest and sentenced to seven years in the penal colony of New South Wales. She must choose between months of confinement in the ship’s hull or exploitation by one of the crew in exchange for material comforts. The captain of the ship takes an interest in her, leading to a narrative of Elizabeth’s efforts to protect herself. Throughout the story, she expresses fear of never marrying and becoming one of the “lost women”. Vines’ attention to detail can make the story feel prosaic, and there are nonconsensual sex scenes that may be disturbing. However, Elizabeth’s internal conflicts as she navigates her relationships with those who exploit her remain deeply felt. Her need to settle for anyone rather than no one is a relatable sentiment. Elizabeth’s story of resilience and courage in the face of adversity is the focus of Vines’ novel, and her journey is one of strength and hope.
Pub Date: April 21, 2023
Page Count: 244
Publisher: Glass House Books
Review Posted Online: July 3, 2023