Friday, 16 May 2014

A Tantalizing Tale of Tasmania

Back in March I had the wonderful opportunity to be invited to the book launch of “Links in the Chain. A Pioneer’s Tale. “ linksThe book launch was fabulous as usual, a very special ocassion as it was one of the final engagements of Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce Governor General of Australia before her retirement. It was a wonderful honour to have the opportunity to meet this amazing and inspirational woman for the second time.
“Links in the Chain” is the second book released by author Caroline Cooper. I very much enjoyed her first novel,  “The Forgotten Holocaust: A Gypsy’s Journey from Auschwitz to Freedom,”
( To read my review  please go to
After discovering how talented a writer Caroline is, I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into her second novel. I admit that I was intrigued that Caroline had chosen once again to set another story amongst the confines of prison walls. What could possibly have her so drawn to such horrific places? When visiting Port Arthur by day or night, one cannot help but feel it is haunted by the ghosts of so many poor souls that were left to rot in chains or made to serve out their lives in hard labour for the sake of stealing a simple loaf of bread. However, as horrific as Port Arthur is, it holds a special place in the soul of many Australians. It represents the struggling pioneering spirit that so many of us have all grown up experiencing as this nation grew to what it has become today. I admit to having a fondness for Port Arthur, Hobart and Tasmania itself as they bring back wonderful memories of the 6 months my husband and I spent there during our early years of marriage before we started our family so many years ago. Tasmania can be a harsh, cold wilderness that at the turn of the 19th Century would not have been a very easy or pleasant place to start a new life in a new world.
Caroline did not disappoint. The story had me engrossed from the start. She has done her research well. The Port Arthur she described was forbidding and hauntingly true. So much so that I found the story gripping and believable. I had empathy for both the convict and the Commandant’s daughter. When their lives predictably collide (as they must) it is not how you may expect, the collision turns both their worlds upside down. The course of events that follow are wonderful page turners as we go from High tea English society to the clanking depressing darkness of chain cluttered cells and on to the back streets of Hobart Town and beyond.
To pique your curiosity without giving away any spoilers, the best I can do is leave you with the words of Caroline Cooper in her own dedication.
“to the early pioneers, full of energy and optimism, to the convicts, to the freed settlers, the free settlers, and to those who simply pretended they’d always been free.’‘ we will always remember your sacrifce and ambition to strive and make good in a new life so far away from the world which you left behind.
“Links In the Chain”  represents  the world of all who settled here in the early years of Australia. Whether they came here willingly or not so willingly. It is a marvelous tale to honour our past pioneers and a must read for anyone interested in Australian history. Thanks Caroline.

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