Hannah has been sent to Australia as a convict. She's been accused of stealing and has also been raped by her former employee. John has lost everything because of a bar fight that makes him lose his wife and fortune to his cousin. The two have plenty of reasons to turn their back on God as they are transported to a world far away from the life they are accustomed to. Treated like dirt and forced to live in the most despicable positions, Hannah and John must learn to find faith again and learn to trust each other in this new world.
I thought this was Bonnie Leon's best book to date. The characters were dimensional, the writing in depth, and the historical information very well researched. This book reminded me of Patricia Hickman's Land of the Far Horizon series also set in the early stages of Australia's history. I really like reading historical novels set during this time period. I really felt bad for Hannah. It seemed at first that everything that could possibly go wrong happened to her. I don't blame her for not trusting God in the beginning. If I had suffered like she did, I probably would think the same. It chilled me to read about how they disposed of the baby and the prison conditions were equally appalling. I felt for the women who had no choice when the sailors would approach them. I didn't really feel that we go to know as much about John as we did Hannah. However I sympathized with his character too. You go to jail for self defense, your wife runs off with your cousin, he steals all your money, and then you get shipped to the other side of the world for your punishment. I tell you, Britain treated their prisoners real harsh!
I really liked the Athertons. They were good people, who had no ulterior motives, and truly wanted to help out the convicts. I really thought first that Mr. Athertorn was going to side with the overseer instead of John but goodness prevailed! I also did appreciate that, at least in this book, the newcomers to the country do not treat the Aborigines with disdain or prejudice. While there is not much contact, as least what is said and done is not disrespectful or degrading. I just hope that in the future, Hannah will be able to tell John the truth about her past. Looking forward to the next books in the series.