The book is a coming of age/ bitter-sweet romance set in early
1940s 20th century (1901-1945) rural Australia.
Jessica grows up in the outback with her strict father, Joe, as a role model and friend, not quite identifying with her mother and sister. as a child sent to work on a sheep shearing farm, she meets Jack and Billy, two other central characters in the story.
Jack, son and heir of the farm, eventually falls in love with Jessica and so does she with him. Billy gets injured in an accident while trying to punish the hired help who bullied Jessica. He ends up as the town idiot.
Billy looks for Jessica after being driven to murder. Jessica tries to save him from the lynch mob by taking him to town where he might at least be given a fair trial. There, she meets Richard Runche the alcoholic lawyer.
Jessica’s sister and mother, Meg and Hester, plots to get rich by having Meg married to Jack. They succeed (which is another subplot). At the same time, Jessica is pregnant but refuses to reveal who’s the father, and she’s accused of being pregnant with Billy’s child.
Another Subplot – Jessica gets incarcerated in a mental hospital. Her child is taken away from her. She survives her stay in the hospital and meets Moishe. Through her help, he is discharged from the hospital and earns the gratitude of Moishe’s father.
Yet another subplot – Mary, an aborigine who’s a good friend of Jessica from childhood, has her children forcibly taken away by the Aborigines’ Protection Board. The later half of the story deals with the context and background of the law and aborigines’ rights. Jessica ropes in the help of Runche and Moishe and eventually they win their case.
But, does Jessica win her own son back?
Read the book.
I’d rate this 3 out of 5.