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The Convict Maiden by Robert Reuland

The Convict Maiden

by Robert Reuland

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This is a tale about the brutal life of a young convict woman, Julia Hannaway, in 1820s’ Australia. The historical background has been very well researched: I’ve lived in Sydney for many years and it’s an odd feeling to see familiar suburban and country centres, Cabramatta, Parramatta, the Blue Mountains and Bathurst depicted as ghastly wildernesses. I suppose nobody now knows what New South Wales actually felt like then, but this novel creates a convincing, and gloomy, milieu. The author also succeeded in making me care about Julia Hannaway, to the extent that every time she made one of her several disastrous decisions, I found myself thinking; don’t do it you fool! He depicts compellingly her transformation from an educated, respectable English county girl into a traumatised survival machine, driven to abandon her former manners, and her religious faith, but finally achieving a life. The author is a criminal lawyer from Brooklyn, New York City, whose other works are modern day crime novels.
Why does his authorship of The Convict Maiden surprise me? The United States was founded by people fleeing oppression to reach freedom. But Australia began as a prison and was effectively a police state, with added gangsters (just google “Rum Corps”). Is this what makes some Americans curious about Australia, or perhaps for this author, its legal system? I fully recommend The Convict Maiden.
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  AMcBurnie | Nov 27, 2013 |
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