There are a tonne of historical romance of the American pioneering days but there seems to be a void when it comes to the Australian first settlement days. I’ve always thought there would be a very distinct difference noting Australian harsh climate and being set up as penal colonies. Wild Lands, however, does not quite fit into the romance genre –so I found out as I read! There is a bit of romance in there but in reality, this book explores the perspectives of the settlers and natives as they fight over the rights of the land.
Kate Carter has had a fairly good and protected childhood until her father died and left her and her mother penniless. Compromises were made by her mother in order to protect Kate and ensure her growth into a lovely young woman. When her mother dies, however, Kate is forced to face the harsh reality of being a woman in a man’s world. Her choices were limited but she refused to have the terms of her life dictated to her and was determined to make her own choices. Her choice led her to the outer limits of civilisation and required her to adjust her views on many things.
Adam, aka Bronzewing, was rescued by a peaceful Aboriginal man and grew up straddling both worlds (of the settler’s and the native’s). He finds himself struggling to balance the two worlds and most times, unable to make one side listen to the other peacefully. Circumstances arose where he was forced to run with his adopted father and brother. His is a fight which still is being fought today as we try to find a balance in including the Aboriginals yet also accepting their cultures into the modern world.
This novel is told from two perspectives, Kate’s and Adam’s. By Kate’s thoughts, we come to know the settlers’ viewpoint and journeyed with Kate as she adjusted herself to her new world and reformed her views by her own experiences. By Adam’s, we learn of the Aborigines way of life and so understand their anger and sorrow. Wild Lands is a very thoughtful retrospective insights of a struggling world. Lyrical in its language, it is a story to beguile all readers.
As I’ve just finished both 1788 (non-fiction work by a British naval officer on the first settling of Australia) and Capricornia (Aussie classic where author spoke up against the horrible treatment of the Aborigines) earlier this month, Wild Lands, whilst set in between these 2 novels, definitely has the sweetest ending. Even when the novel itself isn’t strictly a romance, the ending itself was… well, I smirked, I rolled my eyes, and I harrumphed! Think knight on white horse riding into the sunset…lol
Thanks Random House Australia for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review