Published by Bastei Entertainment on February 26th 2016
Perth, Western Australia, 1913:
When her conservative family tries to force Emily into an arranged marriage with a much older, wealthy man, she decides to take destiny into her own hands and escape her strict father and overbearing brothers. She embarks on a ship to North-Western Australia to take up employment as a private seamstress for a large and rich farming family, who welcome her with open arms. Surrounded by the breathtakingly beautiful and remote landscapes of the Kimberly region, Emily starts to believe that happiness and love really are possible in her new life. But storm clouds are gathering, and as the men of Kimberley march off to war in Europe, Emily must step up to prove herself against all the odds. And that’s when things start to turn out different than she ever could have imagined...
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Staircase to the Moon by Elizabeth Haran is the first book that I have read by this author, but it definitely won’t be the last.
The story begins when we hear about the life of young seamstress, Emily. She lives and works with her father, 3 brothers and Uncle in the family tailor shop. Unfortunately those men, with the exception of her uncle, are all overprotective of her. They don’t even let her go to the shop on her own. She feels suffocated, but the last straw is when her brother arranges, with her father’s permission, for her to marry. The man they choose for her has his own tailoring business and all they are looking at is the fact that with them married the businesses can expand. They don’t care at all about Emily’s feelings. She finds the man repulsive, and is determined not to marry him.
Fortunately, previous to the first date she was forced into with him, Emily had applied for a job Outback in a place called Kimberly, a place hundreds of miles from home. She wasn’t sure if she would have the courage to run away, especially to a place so different to what she was used to living in. But she applied for, and was accepted as seamstress to the family and arrangements were made for her travel. After her disastrous date where her supposed betrothed couldn’t keep his hands to himself, Emily knows she has made the right decision, and the following day begins her journey. Not only a journey to her new home for the next 6 months, but a metaphorical new journey in her life.
From there we read not only about her relationship with the members of the McBride family, and how she learns to adapt to the Outback way of life, but we also learn about all of the McBride family and their relationships with each other. During Emily’s stay there World War 1 begins and 3 of the male characters join the army and leave for Europe. From this part in the book we read about how the women left at home cope without their men, not only emotionally, but having to run the station as well. We follow their trials and tribulations, and we also have letters from the men at war, sent to their loved ones, to give us an idea of how they are coping. When those letters stop, but the war continues, we as readers are as anxious about the missing men as their loved ones. Will the men ever come home, will the station have to be sold, will life ever be the same again? You will have to read the book to find out.
Although there were couples amongst the characters in the book, I have to say that I don’t consider this book to be a romance. It’s more of an historical drama. Saying that, the book is so good, I didn’t mind the lack of romance. Reading all about life on an Australian station, about the beauty of the land, and all the historical facts that the author told, was just wonderful. The story was so believable, and the characters so deep, it was such a pleasure to read. Each chapter wrought new emotions, and to help ease the sadness of some of the story was the wonderful telling of the antics of the new Chinese chef on the station. He brought some much needed comic relief.
I absolutely loved this book, and will definitely read more of this author’s work, especially as again, the books are set in Australia. I used to live there, and yet I learned quite a lot that I didn’t know from reading this book! If you like family saga type stories, don’t mind that there is little romance, and perhaps you have a yearning to learn about Australia, and who wouldn’t, it’s a gorgeous place, then this is the book for you.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.