Title: The Orphan of Good Hope
Author: Roxane Dhand
Published: September 1st 2020
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 3.5 stars
Transport yourself from the canals of Amsterdam, across the waves, to the rough-and-tumble frontier town at the Cape of Good Hope.
From the author of the bestselling The Pearler’s Wife, a riveting novel of seventeenth-century romance and intrigue.
In 1683 life is gruelling for the young women in Amsterdam’s civic orphanage. The sole light in Johanna Timmerman’s existence is her forbidden love for Frans, an orphan in the boys’ section who has a smile like sunshine. Then he is gone, whisked across the globe to the Dutch East India Company’s nascent colony at Good Hope.
Floriane Peronneau’s privileged world is pleasant and fulfilling until she discovers that it is all built on lies. Far from being the devoted gentleman he seems, her husband Claes is a womanizing degenerate who has led them to the edge of ruin. And the forces are closing in on him.
While Johanna’s love drives her to make a shocking bargain to secure passage to the Cape, Floriane is caught in a terrifying game of cat and mouse. The two women’s lives could not be more different. Yet, on the long, dangerous voyage to the southern tip of Africa, they will become the best of friends – and co-conspirators . . .
From the bestselling author of The Pearler’s Wife comes The Orphan of Good Hope. Roxane Dhand has composed an all embracing tale of adventure, mystery, love, friendship, betrayal and the lure of distant lands.
Set in the late 1600s, we begin the journey of The Orphan of Good Hope in Amsterdam. In the depths of an orphanage in the European city, we meet Johanna Timmerman. Johanna loves fellow orphan Frans, but when Frans is cruelly moved from the orphanage and deported to the other side of the world, hope for this couple fades away. Alongside this story we have Floriane Peronneau’s journey. A woman from a world of wealth and good fortune, when Floriane learns of the truth behind her privileged existence, it shatters her world. Devastated by her husband’s philandering ways and dodgy deals, Floriane knows her husband is close to ruin and he will take her down with him. As Johanna works to gain a passage to the Cape of Good Hope which will reunite her with Frans, she makes an ill-fated deal. It leads Johanna into the path of Floriane, who is also playing her own dangerous game. These two very different souls find that they have more in common than they first realised. Johanna and Floriane will need to rely on each other as they make their voyage to the Cape of Good Hope.
Hailing from Kent, England, Roxane Dhand is a retired public relations professional and French Teacher. Dhand has a passion for storytelling and although I am yet to read her first novel, The Pearler’s Wife, I was keen to dip into the pages of The Orphan of Good Hope. Dhand’s second novel is a historical saga with elements of romance, mystery and adventure. The Orphan of Good Hope will appeal to readers who enjoy the escapism offered by far-off lands and times past.
The Orphan of Good Hope opens in Amsterdam 1683, this is a time period and destination that really captured my interest. I have had the privilege of being able to visit Amsterdam in the past and thanks to The Orphan of Good Hope, plenty of images from this alluring European destination flashed past me as I read this book. I enjoyed the Amsterdam based sequences and I felt that Dhand did an effective job of issuing her readers with a number of authentic and compelling descriptions of this unique locale. We are also privy to the heartbreaking and unjust orphan experience through the eyes of leads Johanna and Frans. My heart tore in two for these lovers as they were separated. I think Dhand managed to successfully capture the emotions of this emotional setback.
Dhand has issued her readers with two very strong and colourful leads. Both Johanna and Floriane are well rendered and readers will be sure to admire the core qualities that both these characters possess. It is hard not to get caught up in their emotions, hardships, setbacks and triumphs. The style of narration Dhand has employed also ensures that the reader is aware of the innermost thoughts and feelings of these characters. Throughout the journey of The Orphan of Good Hope we are confronted with a number of serious themes from violence, hardship, slavery, injustice, and a lack of agency, cruelty, suppression, betrayal, extortion and more. This adds plenty of colour and intrigue to the unfolding tale.
The lure of distant and exotic Cape of Good Hope managed to capture my full attention. I can’t say that I have encountered many books in my reading career that have been set in this African locale. It was a fascinating and insightful glimpse into a faraway land. I am also not too familiar with the pocket of time depicted in this novel, so Dhand provided plenty of historically interesting material to consider within her narrative, which was clearly informed by a significant amount of research.
At the back of the book, following the conclusion of The Orphan of Good Hope, a five page Author’s Notes spread provides some further information as to the inspiration and historical background to this novel. A glossary of terms also assists the reader with the Dutch based language insertions that are filtered through Dhand’s book.
The Orphan of Good Hope started on a high note for me, I was certainly intrigued by the premise. However, Roxane Dhand’s slow burn pacing approach which seemed to extend a significant portion of the novel made this story a hard one to wade through. I did continue on out of interest just to see how things would eventuate for these characters. Despite these reservations, The Orphan of Good Hope was an enlightening story that I found brought to light an interesting place, time and set of characters.
The Orphan of Good Hope by Roxane Dhand was published on 1st September 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Orphan Good Hope, Roxane Dhand, visit here.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.