The Night Flower by Sarah Stovell

Today’s review’s brought to you by my dad, Colin.
Dad read this whilst in hospital and credits it to saving him from boredom,
Colin’s a lecturer who is starting to read for pleasure again.
He is currently enjoying the ecliptic collection of books his daughter has stored around the house.
Two girls brought together under the worst of circumstances. A prison ship taking them from London to ‘parts beyond the sea’. Miriam is a Romany girl drawn from freedom in the hills of the North-East to London where her she’s despised. When her mother dies – from cholera, the ‘gypsy disease’. Caught breaking-and-entering, she’s sentenced to transportation. Rose’s brought up to expect more. But when her husband dies and her father‘s sent down for illegal slave-trading.
Separated from her children and forced to take a governess’s job.
When she’s caught stealing, the judge shows no mercy. sending the two to Van Dieman’s Land. Here they’re sent to work in a nursery, where women of ill-repute give birth before they’re sent for correction. The nursery‘s run by a corrupt, debauched Reverend and his idealistic son. Who take a fancy to Miriam. But Rose, her best friend and close confidant, watches jealously and makes plans to reverse their fortunes. The Night Flower takes the reader on a thrilling Dickensian adventure. Where you travel through the dark side of our penal history to a Tasmanian frontier town.
Anything could happen and morality’s made by monsters.
Dads thoughts on The Night Flower:
In the first age of zero tolerance, when minor crimes saw people punished by deportation to parts beyond the sea. ‘The Night Flower’ documents the tragic consequences of this primitive punishment. It follows the unjust, unfair, unscrupulous abuse suffered by those prisoners forcibly taken to the other side of the world.
Sarah Stovell weaves the three main female characters into a frightening tapestry. Which depicts the terrible conditions endured. And the systematic abuse liberally dished out. Yet Sarah captures the hope and friendships that grow out of these cesspit conditions and offers the possibility of salvation. However, those charged with delivering salvation are so flawed and morally corrupt that any chance of betterment’s lost.
Miriam – Rose – Ma Dwyer and the Reverend Sutton Snr and his son are believable main characters, well drawn by Sarah. Their lives unfurl before you in a narrative that switches between them whilst contributing to the story.
This is a captivating read. Where the authors words genuinely conjure a bygone era.

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