Search For the Light by Rosemary Noble
This is yet another historical novel that I've just finished reading.
A moment's foolish mistake costs sixteen-year old Nora her freedom and her family. Sentenced to transportation she has to grow up fast to survive prison, the long journey and then life as an assigned servant in Van Diemen's Land of the 1820s. She is sustained by real friendships with other prisoners, Sarah and Helen. Can anyone of them overcome the pitfalls of convict life to become pioneering settlers of modern day Tasmania? This is a story of love and friendship amidst the trials of 19th century Australian colonial life.
My thoughts on the novel:
This was an engrossing story woven around the realities of female convicts sent from the
to Van Diemen’s Land ( Tasmania)
around 1825: the convicts often having had little or no proper trial before
their sentence was pronounced. It was a fact that Australia
needed women, there already being masses of male convicts whose sentences were
almost played out and who needed a female to work the land they would be able
to acquire after their ‘jail’ time was done. An expedient way to populate the
country was to impose seriously harsh sentences for almost no crime.
Though I knew of the practice of sending convicts there, from school history lessons, I knew none of the detail.
This novel sets a fine background for the harsh treatment these women had meted out to them, both in prison before they sailed, during the long arduous voyage and when they arrived at
Diemen’s Land. The story doesn’t dwell too much on the horrors of
the voyage but I’m sure it was a lot worse in reality. It was easy to warm to
the characters of Nora, Helen and Sarah.
I found the point of view changes a bit abrupt at times, but got used to it. The ending also seemed a little rushed as it jumped over the decades. There were instances where the quality of editing was poorer than throughout the bulk of the story.