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Why I wrote this book
Marlene’s fascination with unique and exotic settings provides the reader with a rare insight into aspects of life in the Australian territory of Papua, post-WWII Sydney and life in the Outback at a time when the Australian cotton industry was in its infancy. Very few novels have been set in Papua New Guinea and the relationship between local men and white women rarely explored outside of biographical and academic literature. Ruth deals with issues that would have been scandalous at the time but it is Ruth’s courage that emerges as the star of the story. The grit and determination that this young girl finds within herself is not only an inspiration but a tribute to motherhood. It is a story about unusual places and remarkable events but it is fundamentally a story about growing up and what courage that often demands. Marlene’s ‘felt life’ style of writing ensures we are there with Ruth as she deals with life’s calamities, but more satisfying, we are uplifted along with Ruth when she succeeds. Marlene’s inspiration for Ruth has been the natural warrior inside all women, and how, for our children, we can deal with anything.
SynopsisFrom the lush Owen Stanley Ranges of Papua New Guinea to working-class inner Sydney...Ruth follows the story of its protagonist, the only daughter of John and Alice Madison, coffee plantation owners. Set in the fifties and sixties, Ruth struggles to rise above the stigma of being an unwed mother alone in a strange land. Determined not to end up on the streets, she learns to live by her wits - until circumstances take a turn for the worse. To provide a better life for her son, Stewart, she takes up work in a distant town. There, she meets Lachlan McGrath, the owner of Bryliambone station. Life on the land is good to Ruth until fate turns her world upside down. Faced with losing everything, she sets to rebuilding her husband's debt-ridden business into a thriving cotton farm. Marlene is inspired by many authors, including Patricia Shaw, Maeve Binchy and Guy de Maupassant. Ruth has elements of Lloyd Jones' Mr Pip, Ruth Park's The Harp in the South and Patricia Shaw's The Feather and the Stone. The novel will appeal to readers interested in family relationships and cultural history.
ReviewsI really enjoyed this book. It has plenty of twists and turns, making it hard to put down.
The main character goes through a huge amount, which could be a little too much to be believable but somehow this book makes it work.
The characters are well developed and as a result are as likable or as off-putting as they need to be for the part they play in the story.
Well worth a read.
by Caz Ward
I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy. I was a little confused at first because I wasn't sure what exactly was going on. But it only took me a few pages to become engrossed in the story. I grew up in the same time period so I could relate to a lot of what Ruth was going through. But then Australia and (New) South Wales and the surrounding areas are different from anything I know about. There were so many ups and downs for the main character, just like life.
I really enjoyed the book and was disappointed when it was over.
by Elizabeth Whitehead
I just finished this. Couldn't put it down! It's a combination of family saga and historical fiction with the same feeling that I got from the Poisonwood Bible! Wow!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Through the laughter, the tears and the totally heart wrenching moments throughout this story I was engrossed in this story. What a story it is... as a young woman strives to make a good life for her children and meets with all the trials and tribulations that entails. This one was hard to put down and unfortunately I received it during the holiday season when I absolutely had to put it down. An awesome story told by an author who truly feels the characters she writes about. I definitely look forward to more from Marlene S. Lewis.