Thursday, 7 August 2014

Book Review: Zenna Dare by Rosanne Hawke


Review by Carol Preston

Rosanne Hawke is an Australian author of over twenty books, among them Shahana, The Messenger Bird the winner of the 2013 Cornish Holyer an Gof award for YA literature, and Taj and the Great Camel Trek. She is a bard of Cornwall and lives in rural South Australia in an old Cornish farmhouse with underground rooms






Cover blurb     When Jenefer moves into the old family home in country Kapunda, she uncovers a secret from the past. What sort of life did Gweniver, her great-great-great grandmother, lead? And what connection did she have to the glamorous young singer, Zenna Dare?
Could a nineteenth-century mother of nine have led a double life, and, if so, why? In a story crossing five generations, from the old world to the new, Zenna Dare brings reconciliation in more ways than Jenefer could ever have imagined.



My review
This great story is set in the Barossa Valley area in South Australia. When Jenefer and her family move away from the city to this small town and into an old family home, built in the 1850s, Jenefer is sure she is going to be miserable. She is not at all prepared for the fascinating journey she embarks on after discovering a secret room in the house and a box filled with intriguing hints about the life of her triple great grandmother. Nor is she prepared for the relationship which developed between her and Caleb, whose mother was one of the stolen generation and whose indigenous background has set him apart from much of the local community in ways that Jenefer finds disturbing.

Rosanne Hawke really captures all the intrigue of family history research in this story; the mystery, the possibilities, the excitement of discovery, the images of past lives, family secrets, the thrill of walking where one's ancestors have walked. The truth unfolds at a great pace – not too much at once and plenty of anticipation about what’s ahead.

The issues around Jenefer’s relationship with Caleb are also explored sensitively and provocatively. Caleb’s background and his character help the reader to consider what it truly means to be Australian, and to reflect on how to deal with prejudice against indigenous Australians. The love that develops between Caleb and Jenefer is touching and powerful.

I found Rosanne’s writing style engaging, her characters believable and likeable, the issues she raises compelling and inspiring. I believe this story will appeal to readers who enjoy history, family intrigues, romance and current issues around prejudice and acceptance. I look forward to reading other stories by Rosanne Hawke.

Also from Rhiza Press   http://www.rhizapress.com.au/zenna-dare

And all good book stores.

Carol writes historical novels based on her family history, set in the early colonial days of Australia. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website, Amazon page or FB page. 

www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston
www.facebook.com/writingtoreach

13 comments:

  1. Hi Carol - this is such a beautiful book.

    I loved the subtle references to Cornish folklore in it - to the 'knockers' of the mines and even more subtly to the tale of Cherry of Zennor, who disappears so much like Zenna Dare did. The way Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the set novel at school, came to be so significant, was nicely done.

    However I wondered if many Christians would find it a difficult read because of the inter-racial romance, even though that was so lightly and deftly done.

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    1. I agree Annie, that there were lots of subtle and clever references in the story that made it endearing to readers. I can't see how Christian readers would find the inter-racial romance difficult to read, but it may well be a challenge to some.

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    2. Hi Carol - I personally don't think it should be a problem but I am deeply conscious Christians have divergent views on such topics.

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  2. Sounds like a really interesting book. I love books that mix social justice issues with engaging stories. I've added it to my "to read" list.

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    1. I'm glad you've added this to your reading, Nola. I think it has a place on our shelves of 'good aussie provocative fiction'.

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  3. Sounds like a fascinating book and I love that it acknowledged the aboriginal heritage of our land. I'm also not sure why interracial romance would be an issue from a Christian perspective as we are all of 'one blood' as Paul tells us in Acts 17:26 and all made in the image of God (Gen 1:26, 27).

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    1. Totally agree with you, Jeanette. However, it is an issue in some circles.

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  4. I'd love this book for sure.The timing of your review, Carol, is interesting as there's a TV ad speaking to racial discrimination of our indigenous folk right now. And I'm afraid it's still lurking deep down in many.

    Rosanna sounds like a fascinating person!

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  5. I have the original copy of this book and enjoyed it very much. It's a beautifully authentic South Aussie country setting. Enough to inspire anybody to research their roots.

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  6. I will definitely be reading this one! Thanks for the great review, Carol

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  7. Glad I've encouraged some to read this lovely story, and yes, Paula, it would certainly inspire readers to research their roots. You just never know what you'll find.

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  8. Carol, great review! Rowena Beresford gave a glowing recommendation for Zenna Dare in her YA workshop at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the weekend. It sounds like a fascinating story.

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  9. Thanks for the review Carol. I have it on my to read list.

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