Title: Daughter of the Murray
Author: Darry Fraser
Published: December 12th 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance, Australian
Rating: 3.5 stars
1890s, River Murray, Northern Victoria
Georgina Calthorpe is unhappy living with her indifferent foster family the MacHenry’s in their crumbling house on the banks of the River Murray.
Unlike the rest of the family, she isn’t looking forward to the return of prodigal son Dane. With good reason. Dane MacHenry is furious when on his return he finds his homestead in grave decline. Unaware that his father has been drinking his way through his inheritance, he blames Georgina and Georgina decides she has no option but to leave. Unfortunately she chooses Dane’s horse to flee on, and when Dane learns she has stolen his prized stallion, he gives chase.
From this point their fates become intertwined with that of a businessman with a dark secret, Conor Foley, who offers Georgina apparent security: a marriage with status in the emerging nouveau-riche echelons of Melbourne. But none of them could imagine the toll the changing political and social landscape would have on homes, hearts and families.
Will Georgina’s path lead her into grave danger and unhappiness, or will she survive and fulfil her destiny?
The title of Australian author Darry Fraser’s novel, Daughter of Murray, caught my eye – even before it hit bookstores. I have a weakness for Australian historical fiction and after reading a couple of novels in the past set around the iconic Murray River region, I was keen to delve into this offering from new author Darry Fraser.
Taking place around the Murray River region, Northern Victoria in the 1890’s, Daughter of the Murray introduces us to heroine Georgina Calthorpe. Georgina is a free spirited and a somewhat impetuous young woman, who lives with her foster family, the MacHenry’s, on their dilapidated homestead. This sprawling property nestles the banks of the River Murray. When the book opens, the MacHenry’s are struggling to keep their sheep run property afloat. Hope comes in the form of the news that the MacHenry’s beloved son Dane is due to return home, which lifts their spirits. For Georgina, Dane’s return isn’t welcomed at all and when he arrives, he immediately casts blame on Georgina for the sorry state of affairs at home. Furious with Dane, Georgina plots her escape and succeeds in making a run for it. She makes the mistake of taking Dane’s beloved horse with her and he follows her. While making her escape, Georgina crosses paths with a gentleman who will ultimately change her fate forever. Connor Foley, a businessman from Melbourne, cannot resist the charms of Georgina and proposes an offer of marriage to her soon after they meet. Upon returning to Melbourne with Connor, Georgina begins to question if she made the right choice in entering into a marriage in haste. It is obvious Georgina is harbouring love for another and ambitions for a very different life to the one she is living.
Daughter of the Murray was an enjoyable read that payed perfect homage to an era and locale in which it is set, the late 1800’s, around the River Murray. I always lap up Australian historical fiction novels and this historical romance, with a hint of adventure, appealed to me immediately.
Darry Fraser has recreated life in Australia 1800’s, highlighting both the male and female experience, with care and attention to detail. Through Georgina, who is a feisty heroine, we see clearly how women at this time were restricted by society’s rules and norms. This part of the novel gives Fraser the room to explore a little of the emerging suffragette movement in Australia, which was enlightening to read. We also learn about transport in this era and how the paddle steamers ruled the waters of the Murray, this was my personal favourite part of the novel.
Fraser’s characters are well drawn. Georgina is full of life, her personality seems to adapt throughout the course of the novel, by her rich experiences. She makes the transformation from a naive but spirited young girl, to a strong and independent woman over the progression of the novel. She is matched with male protagonists Dane and Connor, who offer the reader a glimpse into the lives of men in this tumultuous era.
Daughter of the Murray is a very good Australian saga, offering a fantastic picture of a highly interesting period in Australia’s history but it is heavy on the romance. So if you are a fan of historical romances, this book should be high on your to read list. I did find the romance and subsequent sexual tension between the main characters seemed to overshadow the wonderful historical narrative at some points in the novel. Perhaps these are my own personal feelings though, as novels heavy on romance/heat are not always to my taste. Despite my misgivings on the romance side of this novel, I am still very happy to endorse this novel as a solid read.
Daughter of the Murray by Darry Fraser was published in December 2016 by Harlequin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.