The Girl From Eureka…
About the Book:
On the sun-drenched goldfields of Eureka, a wild colonial girl and an honour-bound soldier will break all the rules to claim a love worth more than gold …
Ballarat, Australia 1854
Gold miner Indy Wallace wants nothing more than to dig up enough gold to give her mother an easier life. Wild and reckless, and in trouble more often than not, Indy finds herself falling for handsome, chivalrous, British Army Lieutenant Will Marsh. But in the eyes of immigrant miners, soldiers are the enemy.
Will has been posted to Ballarat with a large contingent of Her Majesty’s Army to protect the Crown gold and keep the peace. But once he meets rebellious Indy, he doubts he’ll ever be at peace again. As Will and Indy’s attraction grows, their loyalties are tested when the unrest between miners and the military reaches breaking point.
On opposite sides of the escalating conflict, can their love survive their battle of ideals? And will any of them survive the battle of the Eureka Stockade?
‘Ballarat was already a place struggling with an imbalance of justice.’
Having read her contemporary novels in the past, I knew I was in for a good story in this latest offering by Cheryl Adnams, but I have to say, I really feel as though she has found her true calling here in historical romance. The Girl From Eureka was a terrific read, action abounding right from the very first page, the town of Ballarat as it was in the mid 19th century recreated with vigour and atmosphere. This novel put me in mind of a Poldark inspired adventure, but right here on Australian soil: the miners clashing with the crown, unrest and rebellion, a soldier with a conscience, a feisty heroine attempting to break through the traditional female barriers, and a love story against all odds.
‘Three years. Three years she’d lived in this commune of contradictions. So much wealth and so much poverty existing side by side. It had been an adventure for sure. But, like any adventure, it had provided its fair share of challenges too. And, despite so many people living so close together, it could be a lonely place.’
I spent the first ten years of my childhood growing up in south-east rural Victoria, and like many school children within this region, I visited Ballarat on several occasions for school excursions and I learnt my Eureka Stockade history as well. I haven’t come across any fictional accounts of this tumultuous history prior to reading this novel; I’m not sure whether this is because they don’t exist or that they just haven’t come to my notice. Either way, I love nothing more than reading fresh historical fiction, and The Girl From Eureka certainly offered me that.
‘They were headed to the goldfields, along with the rest of the city it seemed. I remember the mass exodus from Melbourne. It was like Moses leading the Jews across the Red Sea. People just up and left their jobs at the post office, the ship docks. Teachers abandoned schools, farmers gave up their properties and cattlemen and shearers left stations to travel to these rural fields to stake a claim.’
Cheryl has researched with finite care and her findings have been woven into the narrative with the skill of a strong storyteller. She paints a vivid landscape and treats the history she is writing about with respect. I loved how she offered a dual perspective of the Eureka Stockade within this story: both the miner and the soldier. There are some interesting points within her author notes that are worth reading, particularly where she highlights the unease felt by many soldiers about the events of the Eureka Stockade, so much so, that high numbers deserted the army post battle.
‘Are we not seeing here democracy and independence on fledgling legs being requested …’ Will rolled his eyes at George’s look, ‘demanded then— by immigrant miners who just want to see some results from the taxes they pay. A right to vote in this country they live in, a right to have a seat in the legislative council regardless of whether they own land or not and the right to purchase that land should they wish to and have the means? Land they could sew and reap, land on which they could raise livestock. Would this country not be a better place if more industry could be found other than at the end of a pick and bucket of dirt?’
‘Careful, Will,’ George teased. ‘Your words smack of dissent.’
‘Is it dissent, George?’ Will asked thoughtfully. ‘Or decency?’
The tensions within Ballarat play out and mount in tandem with the love story between Will and Indy, but the romance never overshadows the history. Given that Will and Indy are technically from opposing sides, this political tension often wedges itself between them. They were both honourable characters, firm in their beliefs and true to their purpose. Their intellectual sparring made for some entertaining reading and the attraction they felt towards each other was heated. Despite this, each had a personal journey they needed to traverse before being able to join together.
‘She was a woman without choice. In that moment she understood what Will had been trying to tell her. The Army was his home, just as this band of rebel miners was hers.’
The Girl From Eureka offers a realistic account of the events leading up to the Eureka Stockade, including the battle itself. It’s a story that’s brimming with tension and action, rich in atmosphere and charged with emotion. Highly recommended.
‘A makeshift flagpole had been erected. While the Union Jack was flying, it was soon lowered and another flag was raised in its place. Indy had to admit it was impressive . The five white stars of the Southern Cross constellation, connected by white stripes on a field of deep blue— it was a symbol for the people of a new Australia. A defiant departure from the tyrannical rule of Her Majesty under the Union Jack. ‘The Australia Flag’. It was clear the miners had been planning this revelation for some time.’
Thanks is extended to Escape Publishing via NetGalley for providing me with a copy of The Girl From Eureka for review.
About the Author:
Cheryl Adnams lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has published four Australian rural romance novels and this is her first Australian historical novel. Cheryl has a Diploma in Freelance Travel Writing and Photography and has lived and worked in the United States, Canada and spent two years with a tour company in Switzerland and Austria. Her passion for Italy, volcanology and cycling have made their way into her stories and her favourite writing retreats include Positano on the Amalfi Coast and Port Willunga Beach just south of Adelaide. When she’s not writing, Cheryl is still creating in her busy full time job as a trainer and learning designer.
The Girl From Eureka
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia – Escape Publishing
Released 12th February 2019 – Available for Pre-order now from your ebook retailer