The novel I have just finished is called Not the Same Sky which is an apt title for the book as the sky in Australia was not the same as the one the female orphans had left in Ireland when they were shipped to Australia in1849.
This is another of my books for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2014 and another book I have enjoyed, this time I knew the history of the Irish immigrants in Australia but it was nice to read a fictional story of the female orphans as it brought history to life.
While reading this novel I was reminded of another novel, young adult fiction, I read many, many years ago – The Convict’s Daughter by Joyce Nicholson
which was published in 1976 and reprinted in 1988. I still have my copy and I plan to reread it now.
Not the Same Sky was written by Evelyn Conlon, an Irish writer.
From the cover:
In 1848 famine has ravaged Ireland, and London remains undecided about what to do. A shortage of female labour in Australia offers a kind of solution and so, over the following two years, more than 4000 Irish girls are shipped across vast oceans to an unimaginable world in the new colony. On Sunday 28th October 1849, one of these ships, the Thomas Arbuthnot, sets sail from Plymouth with a cargo of girls under the care of Surgeon superintendent Charles Strutt.
Not the Same Sky tells the story of Honora, Julia, Bridget and Anne. It observes them on the voyage, examining their relationship of trust with Charles Strutt, and follows them from Sydney as they become women of Australia, negotiating their new lives as best they can. A stark, poetic intensity gives these young women historical importance and human presence in an elegant and subtle novel suffused with humour.
I chose this book after listening to a podcast of an interview on ABC Radio National.
You can listen to the podcast here. I think it is only available to Australian listeners.