Pell has witnessed her mother suffer from financial hardship with too many children. With last minute nerves on her wedding day, she escapes on her horse and heads to the Salisbury Fair to begin a new life.
But as she journeys further, thoughts of her family and her abandoned lover keep pulling her back.
Still a child in a poor fishing village, Sayuri is sold into slavery to a Kyoto geisha house. As she grows, she is groomed to become a geisha and is soon visiting teahouses dressed in fine kimonos and competing with a jealous rival.
She falls in love, but when it is time for her virginity to be auctioned, it is another man who bids the highest. Although she is a popular geisha, when war breaks out and the geisha houses are forced to close, she has little money.
Najin doesn’t want to live a traditional Korean life, but her father tries to force her into a marriage with an aristocratic family. Her mother, defying the obedient wife tradition, arranges a position for her in the king’s court as a companion to a young princess. With Japan’s control over the country and the dying monarchy, Najin’s life becomes oppressive. When she unexpectedly finds love, they are soon separated and she must face Japan’s attack on China and Pearl Harbour while her husband is an ocean away.
Two sisters, Pearl and May, lead exciting lives in Shanghai until their father’s once rich lifestyle is gambled away. Their father is forced to sell his daughters to men in California seeking wives. Escaping from invading soldiers, they journey across to U.S.A. to begin new lives with the strangers they’ve married.
While Natalie lives in Finland, she researches Envall, the founder of an extremist Protestant sect that she came into contact with thirty years earlier. As a thirteen year old, she met Barbara whose family was sect followers. This community not only changed her life, but her face.
This is a history of Queensland’s early European settlement that I was never taught. The novel documents an era during the 1800s when pastoralists claimed millions of hectares of Queensland’s interior for cattle and sheep grazing. When Aborigines objected, speared a sheep or approached waterholes they’d used for thousands of years, graziers either demanded the native police “disperse” the Aborigines or killed most of the tribe themselves.
This is a difficult truth, revealing massacre after massacre of thousands of Aborigines perpetrated by white settlers and/or native police while the state government turned a blind eye because many of the government officials had vested interests in the grazier properties.
A must read for those who don’t want a glossed over version of history.
Forced to retire for her out dated French lessons, Miss Webster is a cantankerous old woman living alone in her English cottage. After she recovers from a serious illness, she holidays in Morocco. Within weeks of her return, she is confronted with a handsome young Arab on her doorstep, the son of a woman she befriended at her North African hotel. When she allows Cherif to stay overnight before he finds accommodation on campus, it is the beginning of her transformation. Cherif is introducted to a different world from his desert upbringing, while he hides a lie until he can no longer conceal the truth.
This book is set after 9/11 and during the Iraqi war. I loved Duncker’s tongue in cheek humour and her take on the small mindedness of the villagers when they meet Cherif.