I love historical fiction novels. Or novels based on real events or people. I get to learn new things, but also enjoy a good story. Perfect combination. Toward the Sea of Freedom by S.Lark is a great example of this.
The novel is set in the 19th century, in three different countries: Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. It is also set in England, but briefly.
The story starts with the two Irish protagonists: Mary Kathleen and Michael Drury. I think everybody knows Ireland’s situation in the 19th century, or how the Irish were treated by the English in the past (they were basically slaves, the “white monkeys”). Anyway, Mary and Michael lived in a village and they were working for some English nobles – the property and mansion was owned by them. They had to endure grave situation – famine, cruel treatment. Many had to steal in order to have something to eat.
Mary and Michael are in love, but they’re honeymoon period is cut short. I don’t want to say too much, so I will not ruin the book for you. Therefore, long story short, Mary ends up married with Ian, a horse seller, and they move to New Zealand. Michael is arrested, and sent to work in Australia.
Enter Lizzie Owens, an English orphan, who has to sell herself in order to feed herself. She also ends up arrested and shipped off to Australia. On the voyage there, she meets Michael and falls in love with him.
I liked the fact that the voyage towards Australia and New Zealand is described. It was interested to read how the prisoners and the poor people had to travel from one continent to another one. Not pleasant.
Mary and Ian have a horrible marriage. Saying that Ian is a pig is an understatement. Lizzie doesn’t have a better relationship with men either. It was interesting and sad to read how women were treated back then, especially by men who didn’t love them; they also used to work really hard, without being appreciated.
There are a lot of things happening in this novel with the protagonists. If you want to know their story, you’ll have to read the book.
In general, I liked the plot of this book. It’s quite interesting and intriguing.
The history in this novel is really good. I enjoyed reading about Australia and New Zealand. These countries’ Natives also play an important role, which I loved. They’re culture is fascinating.
As I mentioned, the novel has three protagonists: Mary, Michael, and Lizzie. There are other characters as well, but the focus is on them. The book is split into different parts – they’re like mini-books inside the main book. Also, the book is written from all the main characters’ points of view, third person. The different perspectives add more depth and details to the novel.
Which brings me to what I didn’t like that much. The story pulled me in right away, but around the middle it started to get a little bit boring – I had to take a break and put the book down. It is a little bit too long. I think it focuses on too many story-lines at once – interesting story-lines, but together they can be tiring after the first 300 pages. This is my only main complain.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction and romance. I have to worn you thou; it’s a little bit dark, and some scenes might be too sensitives to some people – it contains violence, and sexual abuse. They’re done nicely and with taste, and it dose fit with the story, but I know some people would not like that, so I felt I should give you a heads up.