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Feature book: Daughter of the Murray

10 May 2017

Daughter of the Murray by Darry Fraser

Set in the Echuca area of Victoria, this is a story of ambition at the end of the paddle steamer era.

Georgina Calthorpe is a burden for the family. She has to go. As Georgie is not directly related by blood, she is being sent away from the place she loves. Georgie decides that she will leave and takes her belongings and a horse to go to the man she loves, Conor Foley. On the journey, Georgie encounters many difficulties, such as bushrangers, but is able to overcome them.

Conor Foley has always wanted Georgie and he is determined to marry her. He is a self-made man. He has started to build his boating empire and wants to acquire more boats and he now has added the Jacaranda property to his assets. Soon he will add Georgie as another asset.

Dane MacHenry has returned home. His father tells Dane that he needs money to stop foreclosure on the family property. Dane has noticed how derelict the property has become in the last four years. He is told that it is the fault of Georgie’s stepfather in England who has taken to gambling, drinking and wasting Georgie’s allowance. As the story progresses, Dane learns it is in fact his father who is the drunkard and who lost the family property in a card game, which is a big dent in his ego.

This is a love triangle between Georgie, Conor and Dane. The reader can discover which man Georgie ends up with at the end. 😉

The story is well written technically, but I didn’t feel the characters as I was reading. I really wanted more for them and the interactions between them.

There is a lot of historical information in this book. There are the paddle steamers that plied the Murray, the suffragette movement, bushrangers (sort of), the women’s rights movement, and the economic depression of the 1890s. While I find all of these historical aspects fascinating, some aspects used in the story were underdeveloped particularly the ideas around Georgie and her belief in women’s rights. When blocked she would sit back and appear to give up, not someone who is determined to fight for women’s rights. I do understand that writers sometimes take liberties with historical events so it can fit the story, but in this story it felt like it was trying to fit as many events in as possible. At times, it felt like a list of facts or trying to place the character within an event. There were aspects of the story that seemed very modern to this reader, which took away from the story.

This story may be of interest to those who would like to read a book based in Australia’s past.

Reviewed by Heather

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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