Outstanding DebutOrphaned Finella Mayfield arrives in Australia in 1875, expecting to marry the preacher on Phillip Island, but instead finds herself as nanny/companion to fourteen-year-old Molly Jones, in the care of her brother, Shadrach, a simple farmer. It’s a far cry from the life she was expecting, and she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal.
Shadrach, the son of a convict, would have been attracted to Finella even if he hadn’t promised the preacher to marry her and care for her . . . not that he’s dared tell Finella that titbit. He just hopes he can convince her to stay, despite only being able to offer dirt, hard work and poverty—the opposite of the life she deserves.
Finella was a distant character, especially in the beginning, which made her hard to get to know. Despite this, she was easy to sympathise with, arriving in a strange place, knowing no one, and having her expected future stolen from her. We got to know her gradually, through her journal and through her outbursts towards Shadrach, and it occurs to me that this is how we get to know many people in real life: gradually, as people open up more once trust has been established.
Shadrach was equally likeable, a noble character despite the misfortunes of his upbringing, and someone who occasionally did stupid things to get the attention of the woman he loves. But I think my favourite character was the spirited but simple Molly, who did more than anyone to bring Finella out of her shell. The plot was also excellent, with more than one unexpected event, and I was blown away by the depth of the historical research, and the way it was subtly layered into the plot.
I rarely cry when reading novels. That might be that I deliberately don’t pick emotion-packed stories to read, or that I’m too hard-nosed to cry. But I definitely teared up reading Carry Me Home, which is a testament to the quality of the writing, both in the way it made me care about the characters, and the way it inspired emotion. An excellent debut, recommended for anyone looking for a historical romance with a difference.
Thanks to Dorothy Adamek and Relz Reviews for providing a free ebook for review.