#Book Bingo 2018 is a collaboration challenge I am completing with my favourite blogger, Theresa Smith Writes. How does it work? We have devised our own personalised book bingo card game. Twice a month, on the first and third Saturday of the month, Theresa and I will complete a book review post, outlining our respective bingo card entries. The book bingo card contains a total of 25 squares, which we will complete over the course of the year. To accommodate all the squares, we will be posting additional entries in the months of March and June, this will ensure that we stay on track to complete the book bingo game by December. To keep things interesting for ourselves and those following along with us, the choice of bingo square to be covered will be entirely down to us. We invite you to join us in this fun book related challenge, by linking your bingo card entries in the comments section of this post or by visiting Theresa Smith Writes.
My seventh #Book Bingo 2018 entry is ‘A book written by an Australian woman’. This was a very easy category to fill as the vast majority of the books I read are written by Australian women. I decided to use the Stars Across the Ocean, which is the latest book written by Kimberley Freeman, one of my favourite Australian novelists.
1874: Only days before she is to leave the foundling home where she grew up, Agnes Resolute discovers that, as a baby, she had been abandoned with a small token of her mother: a unicorn button.
Agnes always believed her mother had been too poor to keep her, but after working as a laundress in the home she recognises the button as belonging to Genevieve Breckby, the beautiful and headstrong daughter of a local noble family. Agnes had seen Genevieve once, in the local village, and had never forgotten her.
Despite having no money, Agnes will risk everything in a quest that will take her from the bleak moors of northern England to the harsh streets of London, then on to Paris and Ceylon. As Agnes follows her mother’s trail, she makes choices that could cost her dearly. Finally, in Australia, she tracks Genevieve down. But is Genevieve capable of being the mother Agnes hopes she will be?
An enthralling story about love, motherhood and choosing who you belong to in the world by the bestselling author of LIGHTHOUSE BAY and EMBER ISLAND.
Kimberley Freeman is the pen name for Kim Wilkins, the author of over twenty titles. Although I have not explored these twenty titles by Kim Wilkins, I have read most of the Kimberley Freeman published titles. I am always left in awe of Freeman’s ability to merge the past with present, in two equally engaging storylines. Stars Across the Ocean is Freeman’s latest and it is a book I enjoyed from cover to cover.
Two strong stories make up Stars Across the Ocean. In the late 19th century, a young foundling named Agnes Resolute makes the journey to London, from the safety of her home, in search of her birth mother. With only an engraved unicorn button as a clue to her birth, Agnes has little to go on in the search for the mother who abandoned her. Agnes’ quest to discover her origins takes her from the north of England, to the tough streets of inner London, to a noble family home, Paris, Ceylon and finally Australia. The search to find her mother is a perilous one, filled with adventure and mystery, as Agnes gets closer to discovering the identity of her mother. In the present day, Tori uncovers a letter which reveals the story behind the mother who abandoned a baby in over a century before. This letter plays a key role in reconciling Agnes with the mother she longs for.
There is always great excitement when a new release by one of my favourite authors, Kimberley Freeman brings out a new novel. I have been savouring this one for some time to read.
Kimberley Freeman is an author who is especially skilled in her ability to draw two separate stories, from the past and present together in a streamlined manner. Stars Across the Ocean shows us once again, how adept Freeman is in converging the past and present together. There are never any confusing moments in Freeman’s novels and the transitions always occur with the utmost care. Freeman is a skilled writer for the historical fiction genre. In this particular novel, the book moves to a number of locations. Freeman displays a great flair in getting the specific period details of her novel just right. The international locales of England (north and south), France, Sri Lanka and Australia are vivid, realistic and utterly engaging.
In terms of the narrative itself, the content is absorbing. I was soon swept up in the mystery of this novel, once the letter was discovered by Tori in the present day. I was also equally taken in by the origins of the unicorn engraved button that Agnes in the 1870’s narrative possessed. There are plenty of twists and turns in the novel. The central family mystery keeps the reader completely on their toes. This is a book that successfully combines themes of family, identity, romance, love, loss, adventure and history all in the one absorbing book. My attention did not lag at any point as a result.
Freeman has a full character list and on the whole, all were fascinating. Agnes, the heroine of the past storyline, has a great character journey that I enjoyed being a part of. Agnes is quite young and naive. At times I could see ahead that she would become the victim of many of the unfortunate circumstances that touched her. However, I did admire her strong resolve and determination to find her birth mother.
Freeman takes the reader on a fabulous adventure in her exploration of mothers and daughters. Freeman closes her novel off well and readers will be satisfied by the final result, both for the past heroine and Tori in the present day.
Stars Across the Ocean is an expansive and all encompassing tale that all lovers of historical fiction should not miss. If you have exhausted the work of Kate Morton or Kate Forsyth, Kimberley Freeman is an author you need to put on your reading agenda.
Stars Across the Ocean by Kimberley Freeman was published on April 26th 2017 by Hachette. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Stars Across the Ocean is book #31 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge