Finished February 18
The Burial by Courtney Collins
This historical fiction novel takes place in rural Australia in 1921. Jessie is a woman who has had an eventful life, even though she is still in her twenties, but we come into her story at a major turning point. The narrator is Jessie's baby, a child that is not alive as it narrates the story.
We gradually learn of Jessie's life as the story is told, her own birth, her childhood, the way she left her family and the life she left it for. As her story begins, we know she is desperate, we know she is a horsewoman, skilled in dealing with horses. And we come to understand what has driven her to this night, in the dark and rain, at the side of the river as she digs a hole in the dirt.
As she flees her life up to now, she is followed. First by one man, and then by two, and then by more. The first man she has known recently and he doesn't understand why she has left the way she did, at least not at first. The second man she knew long ago, and thought lost to her. The rest are just men, looking for a dream.
I enjoyed Jessie as a character, but also the way the story unfolded, and the prelude which is echoed in the final pages of the story. I liked the people she met, others who lived in difficult circumstances, some who chose to stay and some who chose to find their own way.
I also found it interesting that it was inspired by a real life woman bushranger, Jessie Hickman.
This is an amazing debut novel, one that stays with you.
For readers who loved The Outlander by Gil Adamson