Book Club: Daughter of Australia

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Author: Harmony Verna
ISBN: 9781760374075
RRP: $29.99

The blurb on the back of this book says:

In a stunning debut novel that evokes the epic scope of Colleen McCullough’s classic The Thorn Birds, Harmony Verna creates a poignant story of forbidden love and unwielding courage, set in Australia and America in the early decades of the twentieth century.

A comparison to The Thorn Birds, that’s some pretty big shoes to fill and some hefty expectations. Daughter of Australia is also a debut, which means no-one has any idea on this author’s work or what to expect.

I read an uncorrected proof copy which arrived on my desk a little while ago and I wanted to start it but I was also eagerly awaiting another epic Australian historical so ended up putting this one off. The decision to feature it as a book club title jumped it straight to the top of the pile, and I’m still itching to get my claws into the other historical; and leaves me wishing I had read it when it first arrived.

Western Australia is the background to much of this epic tale, and epic it really is. Beginning with the heartbreaking abandonment of a young girl by her father in the heat of the West Australian desert just before the turn of the 20th Century I knew that my heartstrings would be getting a workout in this one.

The young girl is discovered under a tree by passing miners, miraculously still breathing but only just. The miners detour from their planned route to get her help, finding a Doctor but no hospital in the nearest town. Trauma has silenced the girl, which doesn’t do her any favours as her physical wounds heal. Unable to discover anything about the foundling she is named after the town she is saved in, Leonora, and sent to an orphanage.

Now, at this point I know that Leonora is our heroine, she is going to be with us until the end. Her saviour though, I expected his part in the narrative to end with his handing her into the arms of the Doctor but that was not to be.

Daughter of Australia

Ghan is a miner who has done it tough, mining wasn’t a safe occupation and Ghan has the scars to prove it. Arms crisscrossed in scar tissue, a leg that drags, a missing ear and a face that has been the brunt of too many fists. He is so caught up in the ugliness of his body that even he doesn’t recognise the beauty of his kind soul. He heads back to his delivery after leaving Leonora with the Doctor but he can’t put her out of his head so he returns at his next opportunity.

Ghan is a hard and dedicated worker, he doesn’t know how not to be working so he finds himself following the work. His injuries create issues for him at times but he always manages to get just enough work to get by and throughout the narrative we pick up with him a couple of times and see what he’s up to.

Leonora is disadvantaged at the orphanage because many of the other orphans see her silence as weakness and use it to make her a victim. James, one of the other orphans, takes her under his wing and slowly they forge a friendship as he fights to protect her; until they are separated. Leonora is adopted by a wealthy American family and James is taken in by relatives who came from Ireland for him.

The story follows both Leonora and James as their lives take them in different directions, and separates them by continents. Neither of them find the life they dreamed of and both are plagued by heartbreak and hardships, though of totally different types.

The characterisation is interesting to say the least. Verna has written a wealth of different character types and they have all been written well. Australia at the turn of the 20th Century was an interesting time in history, with the rise and fall of mining, farming and the relations with the indigenous population. None of the characters are black and white, none are inherently good or inherently evil though there is one that was pretty irredeemable I thought.

From the very first time that we see her we know that Leonora is special, there is a light in her that touches all those around her. She is good, she is huge hearted and she wants to do good with her life but that isn’t always as easy to put into practice and she makes some questionable choices, though we can always see the justification for her choices and they were never lightly made.

I was kept guessing quite well in this one actually. I would think I had it picked, be sure I knew what was going to happen, and then that would be thrown right off the table and I would be left wondering if there would be a happy ever after.

There were some beautiful moments but there was also an awful lot of heartbreak and an emotional rollercoaster of just how bad things could get.

Daughter of Australia has an authenticity that surprised me and a believability I wasn’t sure I would find. Verna masterfully illustrates the massive divide between the wealthy and the poverty stricken and the hidden depths behind every appearance.

Surprisingly emotional and entertaining this is a convincing debut that will definitely have Verna finding fans ready to watch where her career takes her.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira 30 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Daughter of Australia so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

Daughter of Australia is available now through Harlequin Australia, Angus and Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

31 thoughts on “Book Club: Daughter of Australia

  1. A beautifully told story of courage and despair but ultimately of love, and the unbreakable bonds that keep people going despite all kinds of hardship…

    Daughter of Australia, by Harmony Verna, is an epic tale filled with intricately drawn and unforgettable characters as well as powerfully evocative descriptions of early Australia, around the time of WWI. From the isolation of the bush and the loneliness of eeking out a living on the land, to the hardship of working in the mines and the sad tale of the Stolen Generation, this book has it all, and describes it with eloquent poignancy.

    But perhaps what touches you most in this book is the human story of Leonora, James and Ghan – their affect on the people around them, their agonies and disappointments, and their grit and determination to struggle on when all appears lost.

    I really enjoyed this book and thoroughly recommend. It truly is an excellent Australian saga.

  2. I started reading this book as soon as I received it and I had trouble putting it down. I loved it. The author managed to create such a clear picture in my mind of all the characters, yet just when you thought you knew what was going to happen next, something unexpected would happen. In parts it was hard to read through the tears in my eyes. A thoroughly enjoyable read

  3. Wow, this book packs a punch! From love, to despair, to hope and happiness (not necessarily in that order), this book takes you on a journey that touches and provokes you.

    The character development is amazing and you rapidly fall for them, their struggles, decisions and outlook on life. Not normally a book that I would read but boy, am I glad that I have.

    I received this book on Friday and by Monday the book has been consumed. Ha, who needs television when you have imagination and story telling like this!

  4. Daughter of Australia is an epic tale that begins in the desolate Western Australian desert. A little girl abandoned under a tree by her father is found by a passing camel train. They detour to take the severely sunburnt child to a nearby town where they think there is a Hospital. There isn’t, and the child is left behind in the care of a doctor and his wife at the local boarding house by the ex-miner Ghan. The child is mute with the trauma of her experiences.
    Ghan is an old bushman, scarred and an amputee who lives a hard life but the strange innocence of the child touches a part of him and he cannot forget her. His life is one of hardship but he is a good man.
    The story continues with the girl taking the name of Leonora, the town where she recovered and then is relocated to an Orphanage. There is another orphan, James who feels for the little mute girl who is bullied by the other children. They forge a special friendship.
    Both children leave the Orphanage, Leonora to an adopted family who return back to their home in America while James chooses to go to live with his only remaining relatives who relocate to Australia to be with him.
    We follow the lives of Leonora, James and Ghan. They make decisions that will impact their lives and everyone around them until Leonora and James ultimately reconnect, and the struggle they go through.
    Harmony Verna touches on a lot of different subjects, Mining, strikes & riots, the role women take in the early 1900’s, the Stolen Generation and even the Rabbit Proof Fence.
    This book was so easy to read and I thought I could see the outcome. I was wrong, there are quite a few twists that as they unravel, you understand why they happen.
    There is happiness, sadness and tragedy but don’t expect it to be the usual boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy gets girl back because if you expect that, you will be disappointed.
    For a debut novel, this stands right up there with the great Australian Novels and I will be happy to read future novels by Verna.

  5. WOW, I have just finished Daughter of Australia and what a fabulous, brilliantly written novel.

    From viewing the beautiful cover and starting the first chapter, I have not been able to put this book down. I was totally absorbed in reading and not stopping for anything or anyone.

    Following the story of Leonora, James and Ghan gives you great memorable characters that will touch your heart from the first chapter. There are many other characters that we also learn about and fall in love with them. Although, there is one character that I despised and after reading about him it’s no wonder.

    This book is such a powerful, compelling, memorable, emotional and gorgeous, divine storyline.

    Considering this is Harmony’s debut book, I look forward to hopefully reading more of her stories. Harmony, you have completely touched my heart with this book. I am writing this immediately after finishing reading and I am still feeling energised but also emotional. All of the characters are going to stay with me for a while as they were all just so warm and believable.

    This book certainly could be made into a movie or 2 part series. I highly recommend anyone to read this book and not feel the enormous passion I am feeling right now.

    Thankfully, I had tissues nearby as I used them many times.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for introducing me to this amazing author who I know, we will see more of in the future and I for one, can’t wait to read more.

  6. I really enjoyed Daughter of Australia, it took me on an emotional ride. A beautiful love story and i could not put it down It kept my interest from the first page to the last.
    I just wish i knew why Leonora was left to die by her father? And maybe Ghan could have been given a better life, poor man , he saved leonara and James, yet died alone.
    However overall i loved this book and cried at times.. I highly recommend it! Thank you for the chance to read it xx

  7. I was so looking forward to reading this novel! With a comparison to Thorn Birds no less! At the beginning , I found it hard to get into with the short stabbing sentences but after the few initial pages, the author found her flow and did not look back. Exquisitely detailed and the ability to make me sigh with relief or to shed tears she is one to look out for. I am sure she had as much fun creating and writing this story as I did reading it and a story it is. One that pulls the emotions out of you like a good story should. I did expect a few things to happen,none of which did which makes it even more enjoyable. This is what I read for, to be taken on a journey with the characters. Bless you Harmony for writing this book, I hope you are working on another because I will be reading it!

  8. Thanks for allowing me to read Daughter of Australia, this beautifully written by Harmony Verna is spot on with the hardships that are faced in this wonderful country we call home, from the first chapter to the last I was enthralled with this book, Leonora who is left for dead in the bush grew up to become a beautiful kind hearted woman, and James such a kind hearted soul who overcame such a hard life he had with his uncle his aunt was nice, I didn’t like Leonora’s aunt and uncle but there was more to their story near the end of the book, and Ghan a wonderful character a true aussie, just wish Leonora could have seen him before he passed away maybe in spirt she was with Ghan the love between Leonora and James is beautiful and the adopting of the children with disabilities at the end of the book is beautiful, a truely wonderful book

    1. Being a born and bred west australian, this book touched the very core of my existence, so many times I needed a box of tissues… It is so amazingly written that the lady whowrote it must live here in w.a. surely because of the times, the scenes, the interwoven stories, the flies, the dir t, the aborigines, all of it wound into such a long saga, and just t oo hard to put it down… It portrays the dessert, as it is, hard and unrelenting, and even last month a lady disappeared in it somewhere, the love, bringing to mind the film belinda, of a girl who could not speak, like leonora, but gradually does learn. The family who is interwoven, the shelbys, and how this woman has to make a life for herself and her children,three sons, then loses them all, and her husband one by one, but still manages to keep going, thru sheer grit and backbone and such strong determination., poor, but proud would I call her. The end where we lose Tom, took me awhile to understand, in fact I had to put the book down, and try to remember part of toms story in it, then I did remember from the beginning why tom and james had to leave shelby family and take off to make money for tom to pay a woman who was blackmailing him, with due cause, and it being her husband at the end who killed tom, and I also thought James… Ghan comes in and out, and I did think Leonora would remember him, and tell him so, but I think she was his angel when he took typhoid and nearly died, and fed him and kept him going until the end. The people who adopted leonora their story only came out at the end, and it too could have a book written about just that family …. everyone who reads it can understand that it is a story of sheer grit, and what keeps australians going in times of hardship and drought, and how america has such big money and is so different, but in the end Alex the husband realises that Leonora has changed being back on her land as she called it, and wants to try and bring about a change in their life… I could not to start with work out where James and Leonora had gone, then realised it was to the land that the stepfather had given leonora when his wife died, the land of one thousand acres somewhere in n.s.w. wonderfully written comes to life when reading……

      1. Here is a bit from Harmony Vernas Bio :
        Throughout her twenty‑year career in communications, Harmony Verna has worked with all media facets: radio, television, magazines, newspapers, public relations, advertising and marketing. As a freelance writer, she has written scripts for the Food Network and articles for Modern Bride Magazine, Connecticut Woman Magazine and more. Daughter of Australia was a final round selection for the James Jones First Novel Contest. Verna lives in Newtown, Connecticut, with her husband and their three young boys.

        🙂 I would have thought she lived here in Australia as well the way she descibed the land and everything that filled it .

  9. I’ve just finished reading Daughter Of Australia, a debut novel by Harmony Verna.
    This book had me hooked from the first page. With a little girl left abandoned in the harsh conditions of desert Western Australia, my heart was immediately drawn to this character. She becomes one of the main characters in this story, later named Leonora after the town she is taken to by Ghan, a man with vulnerability, tragedy and kindness. His role continues on throughout the story, and ties in beautifully toward the end.
    Another character, James, befriends Leonora when she is sent to an orphanage, and their bond is strong from the get go.
    Both are sent to different parts of the world to experience life with new families but years later, they are reunited in trying circumstances.
    The descriptions of landscapes and characters are written so well, and the story travels over the years comfortably.
    I found myself thinking of the characters when I couldn’t read the book throughout various parts of the day, and finished it within a few days.
    I love the cover of the book too.
    I’d definitely recommend this book as it is a beautiful Australian story that captures your attention and emotions long after the last page has been read.

  10. I love any chance to read an Australian novel, this book was exceptional so much so that I found it hard to put down. I love the characters and found the book very well written. From the West Australian desert where a young girl is abandoned under a tree, the story takes you on a journey that is moving, powerful and emotional. The great characters of Leonora, James and Ghan are skilfully written. A book highly recommended.

  11. Loved this Book I feel that Harmony Verna has a great talent & hopefully will become very successful & supply us with more books like Daughter of Australia.
    A delightful read full of anguish heartache love but most of all strength of characters which pull at the heartstrings enough to want to put it down while you wipe the tears away but know you can’t because you need to know what happens next.Great storyline with great characters just a great book.
    Absolutely loved it & will recommend to friends that they read it.

  12. Daughter of Australia is an epic love story and slice of Australiana. But it’s also amazing to note that the author is not even an Aussie. The novel is actually Harmony Verna’s debut one and she has beautifully captured our land of boundless plains with her gorgeous and evocative prose. Daughter of Australia is ultimately a very easy-to-read book that is engrossing and hard to put down.

    The story begins with a sweet little girl being abandoned in the West Australian desert. She is on the verge of death but luckily she is also saved by a passing miner named Ghan. This disabled and big-hearted man takes the child to a doctor and eventually she recovers and goes to live in a local orphanage. But she is so traumatised by this past experience that she becomes a mute.

    At the orphanage the little girl named Leonora (after the town where she was found) is cared for by a well-meaning priest. Another orphan child named James also ends up befriending Leonora. James is a boy with a heart of gold because he abhors injustice and cruelty. The pair become firm friends but their relationship does not last because eventually Leonora is adopted by a rich American couple and James goes to live in country Australia with extended members of his Irish family.

    The two children grow up having difficult lives in their own unique ways. Leonora is trapped by a brutal aunt and forced into an unhappy marriage with a mean and ambitious mining tycoon. James on the other hand has a life of hard graft on his aunt and uncle’s vast and unforgiving property. The pair are eventually reunited when Leonora’s husband purchases land and mines in rural Australia and James comes looking for work. This reunion will leave readers asking whether the two old friends will be able to rekindle their past affections or will the divide between two classes be a bridge too far?

    Daughter of Australia has been likened to Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds and it’s easy to see why. This novel is also worthy of comparison to Bryce Courtney’s Jessica. Daughter of Australia is ultimately a rich book that tackles a number of different threads and issues like: race, love, class, jealousy, work, grief and fear. The characters are vivid, engaging and feel like real people. This book is ultimately a delightful Australiana one and journey towards discovery and identity. It’s also one where beautiful language is juxtaposed against the harsh, Australian outback. It’s simply gorgeous!

  13. I was hooked after just 2 pages!! Simply brilliant read. I think this is the best book I have reviewed ever on Beauty and Lace Book club! It draws you in, right from the start . The descriptions are so vivid , so real, it instantly transports you to the hot and dusty WA.
    My favourite character was Ghan, his goodness all through the book in-spite of life always treating him bad was so inspiring and heart wrenching. Leonora the heroine as a child with her vulnerability at being abandoned retains her core of innocent goodness. Loved the parts of the childhood years at the orphanage with James. The pain of the two childhood friends that draws them closer is beautifully described.
    I think the main theme running through the book is that goodness exists at some people’s core and no matter what life throws at them this core remains indestructible and pure.
    I only wished that Ghan had got to go with them to the orphanage at the end so life could for once be tender and peaceful towards him.

    The hardship and despair of the mining workers was very sad to read about. As well as the treatment of the Aboriginal families. A dark chapter of Australia,s past.

    Overall a beautiful book, that is Australian to its core hard, strong, yet tender and breathtakingly beautiful.

  14. This book was an unforgettable read and what an amazing debut novel for Harmony Verna. I just couldn’t put this book down once I started reading this and I was lost in all the characters lives, it was just so addictive! The description of all the characters and the setting of this novel was so vivid, I could imagine myself in the harsh Australian outback watching the story unfolding.

    I thought that all the characters and their own individual stories were all interwoven into the main story of our heroine Leonora brilliantly and I was just a praying that Leonora and James had that happy ever after ending that I had hoped for them after their turbulent childhood.

    Although I found the novel quite heavy at times and I shed quite a few tears, it was an enjoyable read. I almost felt a bit sad when I finished because I felt so engrossed in the characters that were so vividly brought to life.

    This book had everything to capture my attention, I just loved it!

  15. Oh my Goodness I seriously loved this book. I was so very excited when I saw that it was up for review as I had read a short article about this book and from then I badly wanted it so I was very pleased to be informed that I was going to be on the review team.
    The moment i started reading I was dragged in and didnt want to put the book down but of course life goes on so I had to put the book down and spend time chatting with my daughter, cooking meals and sleeping but as soon as my daughter left for her week long trip to Bali I spent more time with Leonora and finished the book after two days. Then I felt sad that the story had come to an end as Leonora had become a part of my life and I had spent a lot of time thinking about her. I had followed her from the time she was found so close to death and badly burned by the hot sun in the Australian outback. Ghan the gentle soul trapped inside a disfigured body who spent his time thinking about the young girl that he found and feared would die before they could reach a hospital. They made it to the town of Leonora and although there was no hospital there was a Doctor. Ghan left the young child with the Doctor and the Doctors wife quickly fell in love with the child and longed to adopt her. Sadly the Doctor was not having a bar of this and when the opportunity came to be rid of the child he took it. Leonora had never spoken so she was named after the town. She was then sent to an orphanage where she was teased by most of the other children who found her an easy target as she never spoke. Thankfully she forms a friendship with James who is another child at the orphanage but as seems to be the way in her life he is soon taken from her also.

    This is seriously I most wonderful story and one of those books that I know in time I will pick up and read again. I loved reading ti and was sad when I reached the last page.
    Harmony Verna is without a doubt a name that I will look out for in the future as i know already that I need to get any and all books that she may happen to write.
    Thank you so very much Beauty and Lace for allowing me to discover Harmony Verna.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and had a hard time putting it down. Harmony Venna has created a wonderful, emotional story of historical Australia. Great characters, descriptive settings and well written.
    Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful novel. I am now looking forward to reading Harmony Verna’s future books.

  17. What a beautifully written story! The characters and the setting, the author yook me on an emotional roller coaster! It reminded me of what I love about the Australian spirit, the courage to achieve good things no matter what life has thrown you in the past. I look forward to reading more from this author.

  18. I was really surprised by this book as I didnt think it was going to be so damn good! Harmony Verna is definately one of my favourite authers now (look out JoJo Moyes)
    I easily fell into this book with the in-depth description of everything from the surroundings to the characters, she is a very talented writer that left me very impressed.
    I lost count of the times I started to really choke up nearly on the verge of crying and not many books do that to me. I loved the excitement of James and Leonora reuniting as I kept wanting for more. The accents of the characters were just great and I found myself grinning and even laughing at the many sayings throughout this book.
    I really loved Mrs Shelby, she had a heart of gold ( somepin bout er) haha she was great, I was choked up when Leonora and James went there after learning of the 2 brothers fate that went to war.
    Was sad to know what happened to Tom as he was a real laugh and had the best humour.
    I was always waiting for Ghan to reunite with Leonora but I guess it happened in the part where he passed and a soft breeze slid past her like the brush of an angel and she started to cry telling one of the children she was feeling sentimental. Poor old Ghan had such a hard life but he really was Leonora`s angel as well as Jame`s in the end.
    Leonora and James both had bad men in their lives being her husband Alex and James`s uncle Shamus who blamed him for tess`s death and for living in Australia.
    Was touching how Leonora saved the Aborigines from Alex`s cruel ways, he definately got his just desserts in the end.
    I did feel a bit awful for hating Eleanor Fairfield as Owen explained near the end and she left her that wonderful inheritence of land after she died for Leonora which was the help to escape from the cruel hands of Alex in the end. Glad to see James will get his wish of having 30 children with their orphanage.
    Gosh I could go on and on and rave about this book because it was a real emotional whirlwind that captured and captivated me more than any other book I have read for a while, Harmony Verna is someone to definately keep our eyes on as she is real good!
    Thanks Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for this fabulous read as it will stay in my mind for a while.

  19. I absolutely adored Daughter of Australia by Harmony Verna. An stunning debut novel set in Western Australia around the time of WW2. The characters are very engaging and easy to let into your imagination.
    So many different reasons to keep turning the pages as I read but not wanting to get to the last because then the story had ended .
    Definitely a book that you can get swept up in and lose track of time, perfect for a cold windy afternoon or evening.
    From the moment we meet Leonora, the central character in this epic tale , you will be captivated.
    A thoroughly enjoyable read. Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for giving me this book to read, enjoy and review. I look forward to reading more books from Harmony Verna in the future .

  20. “Daughter of Australia” is a book I liked, and enjoyed, but which also had aspects which annoyed me. It is the story of Leonora, a child left to die in the Australian desert but rescued by a miner delivering supplies; and James, an orphan already resident in the orphanage Leonora eventually arrives at. These two loners find each other and form a strong bond. They are then torn apart as James is claimed by long lost relatives, and Leonora adopted by an American couple with ulterior motives. As adults they unexpectedly find each other again, but in circumstances which seem to prevent them being together.

    The trope of the innocent girl who’s forced or manipulated into marriage, and whose first experience of sex is rape at the hand of her new husband, is pretty overused. Yes, I know it happened and probably still happens. But there are far more subtle (and also realistic) ways to depict an abusive marriage, and I felt Verna took the easy route here.

    I also felt that some of the subplots around minor characters could have used some pruning. We heard a great deal about Father McIntyre, and I’m not at all sure that we needed it all. Similarly, there was a great deal about Ghan in there, and much of it seemed unnecessary – for example, if Chapter 16 was excised from the novel completely, no one would notice at all.

    This excessive detail about some fairly minor characters (although granted, they do play important, if brief, roles in Leonora and James’ lives) impacted on the pacing – I found this a little slow to grip me, and it felt as though there were few peaks in the first half of the novel – everything trotted along at an even, slow pace. On the positive side, this did help to build a strong picture of the kind of world that Leonora and James live in, and to signal the passing of time.

    Nevertheless, I got caught up in Leonora and James’ lives, and very much wanted to find out what happened to them. In some regards there were no great surprises here – it follows a fairly established pattern – but Verna makes most of it interesting and engaging. There are not too many of these types of novel set in Australia, and she makes the most of the setting to tell an old story from a slightly different angle.

    If you’re prepared to invest a little time to get past a slow start, this is an enjoyable book that provides an insight into a young Australia. Although I found it took a while to engage me, this isn’t a difficult read and is (at minimum) interesting throughout; I think a lot of readers will enjoy this.

  21. A little girl left in the sweltering WA heat, a rough miner as her saviour and a doctor who doesn’t want the burden of a mute child….these are just some of the characters that hook you in as “Daughter of Australia” begins.

    Harmony Verna’s descriptive writing style ensures you are well entwined in the story and the thoughts and troubles of the many & varied characters in this 20th century epic.

    The abandoned girl, Leonora, is sent to an orphanage where she meets & befriends James. And from this moment, even though separated as she is sent to America, their lives seem destined to cross paths.

    Many heartbreaks befall both of them, it was quite an emotional journey. I enjoyed “Daughter of Australia” for it is set in a time in Australian history we’ve almost forgotten. Verna’s writing style lends itself to a olde worlde charm that makes you believe it really is the early 1900’s.

    The characters have you travelling their journey, sharing their experiences and willing their triumphs. This was quite a long, epic read but it was well worth the investment.

  22. This book is an epic tale of Australia from many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed reading from cover to cover.
    I think what piqued my interest the most was the unrelenting and often very sad tale about Australia in her early years.
    The book is about Western Australlia and its very harsh beauty but follows the lives of two people in particular, that have very humble beginnings and their struggle to keep true to themselves..
    This a beautiful tale about Leonora and James that are two orphans, their lives take very different roads and explains in vivd detail the pull of the Australian lifestyle.
    I was very impressed at how much detail went into the mines and the horrid conditions, that those workers were put through. It is also very detailed about how hard it was to be a farmer in those early days.
    This is a love story but also a bit of a history lesson.
    I completely loved the authors ability to really involve the reader and take you on a complete journey.
    If this was the authors first book, then she has a very bright future ahead.

  23. Where do you start doing a review of this book. Firstly, thanks go to Beauty and Lace for choosing me to do a review and a huge thank you to Harlequin for choosing to publish such a well written novel. Comparing this to “The Thorn Birds” is a big call, having read that book many years ago, it is without a doubt in my mind equally as good, if not better in bringing some of the characters into reality.
    Harmony Verna, has written a wonderful book, which I hope is picked up for a movie or TV rites, it is so worth it.
    The story line is set prior, during and after WWI, set in the harsh outback of Western Australia. The characters become your reality while you are absorb in reading. The beauty of the main characters
    Leo, James, Tom, Ghan, Owen, The Shelby’s (the good) Eleanor, Alex, Murphy, (the bad) is so real you can picture their faces, expressions, love, hate, fear,laughter, tears,sadness, and heartache.
    The story lines flows so easily, I read the book slowly so I could savour the words on each page. For the 2 weeks that it took me to read it became my reality.

  24. What an emotional rollercoaster this book took me on I loved it and could not put it down (read it in a day) the book was easy to read and the storyline was so real, the sadness of a baby left behind to be found and raised by another the harshness of the Australia that was and the rise through it all by the characters in the novel. I have not read the Thorn Birds but it is now on my list to read. I look forward to more novels by this amazing author

  25. Daughter of Australia is a long novel composed of very short chapters, very long chapters and all sizes in between. I found the style of writing to be a little heavier than my usual book choices, so it was a read that took a little more concentration for me and it wasn’t until I was halfway through the novel that I was hooked and not wanting to put the book down. I enjoyed the novel, and found it somewhat more relatable as it was set mainly in Australia (despite being at the other end of Australia to where I have lived my whole life).

    The chapters alternated between the two main characters; James and Leonora until their paths crossed over and then any chapters involving them both would be told half from ones perspective and half from the other. I did really like them both as they were both kind hearted and thoughtful, though it was heart wrenching with what we had to “watch” them go through.

    The novel starts off with a series of heartbreaking events mainly for young innocent Leonora, which left me feeling helpless. Unfortunately this continues as the novel is clouded by negative events or nasty characters for a large majority for Leonora who only experiences short happy moments in-between her daily unhappy life. James is a little luckier as he has some kinder characters in his life and a kinder upbringing overall.

    There is also a third main character who narrates some chapters, and he pops in and out of the story. This characters is known as Ghan and is anonymous to James and Leonora, but he contributes to two separate significant moments in both their lives, and unbeknown to them his story crosses over theirs many times in smaller ways. I would have liked to have seen this part of the story tie up and come out as something more that would impact on the lives of all three towards the end.

    The ending was mostly happy (at least for the main characters) and the very end is what I loosely predicted throughout the story. However, before the final ending the story took a few unexpected twists which resulted in some shocking and sad moments, but made the read more enjoyable as it veered off the expected path.

    Overall this was a great first novel by Harmony Verna, and definitely worth the read.

  26. The story is set in Australia and America in the early decades of the twentieth century. A little girl dressed in rags is left for dead by her father but an old miner finds her and keeps her alive and brings her into the town to try and find a doctor, she is then taken to an orphanage where she does not communicate as she is traumatized from the ordeal. No one knows her name and she is given the name Leonora after the town where she has been taken. Leonora gradually builds a friendship with another orphan James and he looks out for her until they are both separated. Leonora is adopted by a wealthy American family and James to relatives who emigrate to Australia from Ireland to claim him.

    Years later, Leonora returns to Australia with her husband, Alex where she settles at Wanjarri Downs. Here she comes across James again, who has grown into a strong and resourceful man. Even though Leonora is married, there is still a very strong attraction to James, and she is committed to staying with her husband.

    A character that I found interesting was Ghan who was a fascinating man who would come and go throughout the story with one of his many jobs. You did not know when he would come back into the story but when he did I enjoyed reading about what he was up to next.

    The story goes through periods of love, despair, courage, riots and even war showing just how tough life could be in this era.
    I found the story easy to read, and thought I knew what the ending would be, but I was wrong, and really enjoyed how the story ended.

    A well written book by a debut novelist and I would definitely love to read any future books.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books for the opportunity to read this very captivating novel.

  27. I absolutely loved this beautifully written book and would highly recommend it.

    The story opens with a punch with the heart rending abandonment of a small child under a tree in the blazing sun in an uninhabited area of Western Australia. In the nick of time she is rescued by a hardened miner known as Ghan, but the trauma of her experience has rendered her mute and so she comes to be known by the name of the mining town he takes her too – Leonora.

    Leonora is fortunate to be placed in a church orphanage with a minister who truly cares for the welfare of the children in his care. Here she meets James, another orphan, and slowly begins to speak again.

    James has Irish ancestry and is claimed by relatives who come to Australia to live and work the land. Leonora is adopted by a wealthy American couple and is taken to America after being trained out of her Australian beginnings

    The book follows the ups and downs of the two main characters, James and Leonora, their experiences after leaving the orphanage, the twists and turns of life that mean they meet again back in Australia, but under very different circumstances, and where life leads them. Periodically throughout the story Ghan reappears to add an unexpected interest and twist.

    I loved watching Leonora grow from a traumatized child, to a strong, resourceful and kindhearted woman. Her interaction with the Aborgines who live and work the land she lives on in Australia, is inspirational, without at any level being patronizing.

    This is a debut novel for Harmony Verna, and I look forward to reading her future works.

  28. What an amazing book that I was very grateful to be able to review.
    The book takes you through a range of different emotions and really hooks you in. There’s love and hope, struggle and strength.
    I found each character memorable and easy to love so the story was easy to follow.
    It was an absolute privilege watching Leonora grow from a child who had been through so much trauma to such a strong lady.
    I don’t want to give the plot away but please, if you can read this book, you won’t regret it. It’s hard to believe this was a debut novel.

  29. I really enjoyed this book, and was impressed to find it was a debut novel. The author writes with confidence and experience. I did find the start a little slow to get going, and the end a little cliché for my taste, but the middle section of character and plot development I thoroughly enjoyed. I read this while traveling overseas and it was wonderful to imagine those tastes, sights and smells of outback Australia. I also liked the references to the plight of Australian families through war and through hardship, as well as interactions with indigenous people. The characters are realistic and relatable, and really got me invested into their stories.

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