#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 eighth #Book Bingo 2018 entry is ‘A book set more than 100 years ago’. As a big fan of historical fiction novels this was another very easy category to compete. Since late last year I have had my eye on Into the World by Australian author Stephanie Parkyn, after seeing multiple positive reviews. Book bingo provided me with the opportunity to explore this swashbuckling adventure, set across the high seas and France in the 1700’s. Into the World is an excellent example of a historical fiction novel set over 100 years ago and a richly rewarding read.
Abandoned by her lover and fleeing the wrath of her family, Marie-Louise must make a desperate choice. Find a man or become one.
Marie-Louise disguises herself as a man and joins a voyage of exploration employed as a steward on the Recherche, one of two ships commissioned to journey to the Great Southern Ocean to find the missing explorer La Perouse.
Protecting her identity throughout, Marie-Louise forms friendships among the eccentric naturalists. But tensions rise between the royalist officers and the revolutionaries, and Marie-Louise’s position becomes precarious when she discovers someone on board knows the secrets of her past. When the expedition docks in Java, chaos erupts as they learn of King Louis XVI’s execution and are imprisoned by the Dutch. Marie-Louise seems certain to be unmasked. Will she ever return to France and be reunited with her child?
Inspired by a true story, Into the World is a compelling novel of the amazing life of Marie-Louise Girardin battling perilous seas, her own self-doubt, and finding unforeseen loves on a journey to reclaim her child.
Into the World, written by debut Australian novelist Stephanie Parkyn, is a buccaneering tale of one fearless woman’s adventure across the high seas. Marie-Louise Girardin finds herself on board the Recherche, posing as a male steward, travelling across the world from France to the Pacific, on an unforgettable expedition. Into the World is a solid example of how fact and fiction can be expertly sewn together to create one vivid historical adventure tale.
Set within the uncertain and perilous time of the French Revolution, the lead of Into the World, Marie-Louise Girardin, finds herself in an impossible situation. As an unwed mother, Marie-Louise is faced with the heartbreaking decision of abandoning her newborn son and fleeing the country, with the help of an influential friend, Olympe de Gouges. With an escape route all planned out, Marie-Louise must risk it all in the hope that one day she will be in a position to reclaim her beloved son. It is one risky plan and it leads Marie-Louise to take on the identity of a man. Disguised as a male steward, Marie-Louise embarks on a journey across the globe, on board the vessel the Recherche. The Recherche has been requested to both find a missing French explorer and discover new territory in the Great Southern Ocean region. Marie-Louise finds she faces a tough daily battle, to keep her identity under wraps and avoid the tensions that are brewing on the ship between various different fractions. When a figure from Marie-Louise’s past makes their presence known, a new threat emerges for this brave woman. Tensions also run high when supplies become low and news travels to the ship of the impact of the French Revolution. With threats from her homeland of France, as well as the new countries Marie-Louise find herself entering, her final fate appears to be desperately uncertain.
Since Into the World was released late last year, it has been on my reading wishlist. I have a weakness for historical fiction novels, especially those set in France and those that are based in part on a true story, or real life figures. Into the World is a very fine example of a novel that blurs the lines between fact and fiction, delivering a convincing narrative based on real life historical events.
For a debut novelist, Stephanie Parkyn is one very talented storyteller. She is able to take facts, figures, real life personalities and places and tie these aspects together perfectly to produce one memorable story. It takes a great deal of skill to draw a reader into a historical storyline and I was very impressed by Parkyn’s ability to transport me to another world and time. I was completely invested in this historical adventure from the start to bitter end of the novel. This is a true testament to Parkyn’s exceptional knowledge of her main subject matter.
Stephanie Parkyn takes a hypothetical approach to the characters that colour her novel, but each and every character comes across as authentic. The lead of this swashbuckling tale, Marie Louise, is a strong female identity with a fascinating back story. Parkyn does a superb job of bringing this character to life and displaying just how far Marie-Louise’s self resolve takes her. Parkyn also ensures that the reader feels every emotion and drama Marie-Louise feels, in particular the heartbreak she suffers are various points in her life. Tensions run high with the dangers Marie-Louise continually faces at almost every moment of her voyage on the Recherche. I was absolutely astounded by Marie-Louise’s hair brain plan to even consider impersonating a man! Parkyn fills in the details well so we get a fine picture of this scenario. I find it impossible to fault Parkyn’s character development, which in both dealing with her major and minor players, good as well as bad, were portrayed with conviction.
The aspects of the novel that commanded my attention were of course the time devoted to recreating revolutionary France and overwhelmingly the adventure sequences that take place out on the open sea. I loved the opportunity to learn what life would be like for a steward on board a vessel in the 1700’s. Parkyn does a fine job of recreating the tough life on board a ship such as the Recherche. As a result we receive a vivid picture of the unique sights, sounds, smells and day to day happenings on board a ship of this magnitude. One of the personal highlights for me in relation to this aspect of the novel was the discovery of the various marine life and unusual flora that appeared before the crew of the Recherche, it was a delight to bask in the crew’s discoveries. Likewise, we also gain a fascinating insight into the various locales and diverse cultures across the globe the Recherche passes by. Even Van Diemen’s Land has a strong place in the proceedings of the novel. It is in these compelling sequences that we are given an insight into forms of slavery in this era, the political uprisings and the dangers natives posed to explorers.
Throughout Into the World there is a line of mystery crossed with suspense, coupled with an atmosphere of heightened tension. We are constantly on tenterhooks, wondering whether or not Marie-Louise will be discovered and her real identity exposed. I remained loyal to this book until the very end, as I wanted to know if Marie-Louise would be successful in returning to her home in France and reclaim her son. Friendship, mateship, loyalty and love all have a place to bear in Into the World. I liked the approach Parkyn took to these themes. Overall, I was taken aback by the prominence of Parkyn’s writing style, her full bodied narrative and Parkyn’s wrap up of Marie-Louise’s life.
I hold Into the World and the eloquent writing of Stephanie Parkyn in high regard. It is a taxing task bringing events from the past into the present and to mould a narrative that is both readable and rich in historical fact. I believe Stephanie Parkyn has achieved this mighty feat and should be applauded for her remarkable first novel. I am eagerly awaiting what Parkyn will explore next and I know her next novel will be sitting at the top of my wishlist.
Into the World by Stephanie Parkyn was published on November 22nd 2017 by Allen and Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Into the World is book #36 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge