In 1898, under a lone gum tree in the Outback of Australia,
Ghan, an old miner making deliveries to the railway, finds a
small child. In rags, severely burned by the sun and
barely alive, he carries her to his wagon. Thinking
there was a hospital in the small town of Leonora, he takes
her there only to discover there is no hospital there.
Only Dr. Carlton, who works at the mines but lives at the
boarding house with his wife, Elsa. Dr. Carlton nurses the
child back to health, slowly. The child is mute and does
not know her name. The doctor decides to name her after
the town so she becomes Leonora. He soon becomes angry by
his wife's attachment to the mute child and sends her away
to an orphanage.
At the orphanage, Father McIntyre, is in charge. He is a
kind and loving priest to all the children there. However,
James, is his favorite. James has been at the orphanage
since he was a baby. A loner, until one day Leonora is
being bullied because she could not talk. James befriended
her.and shared her orphanage childhood. She began to speak
and as they became close, they form an unbreakable bond
that lasts and endures hardships and separation. They are
devastated when they are both adopted. Leo to America by
a wealthy couple from Pittsburgh, PA. James, to his Aunt
and Uncle who came from Ireland to claim him and settle on a
farm in Australia. Many years pass but Leo and James are
reunited at Wanjarri Downs, the huge bustling station where
he and his friend, Tom, get jobs as managers. The spread
is owned by Alexander Harrington, who is Leonora's husband.
Her adoptive parents introduced him and encouraged their
union. Back in Australia, she is now a well bred, educated
lady, and must keep James and their past secret. Alex
would never approve and he could be mean and abusive, as she
DAUGHTER OF AUSTRALIA is a stunning debut, and a beautifully
told story of Leonora and James. A saga about a vast
country with red earth, the heat of the sun unforgiving
and the cold, frigid; wealth, poverty, lies and secrets.
In the end, triumph over impossible circumstances. I
applaud you Ms. Verna. Your imagery is beautiful and my
total immersion in the story brings joy on every page. The
finale left me feeling breathless, happy and wanting more.
Harmony Verna transported me to another time, another place.
What a special journey! Delightful historical fiction
about greed, power, love, longing and second chances with
characters you will love or loathe. Brava, I loved it!
In a stunning debut novel that evokes the epic scope of
Colleen McCullough's classic The Thorn Birds, Harmony Verna
creates a poignant, beautifully told story of love and
courage, set in Australia and America in the early decades
of the twentieth century.
The desert of Western Australia is vast and unforgiving.
It's a miracle that the little girl dressed in rags and
abandoned in the sand is still breathing when an old miner
discovers her. Even more so that he is able to keep her
alive long enough to bring her to the town from which she'll
take her name: Leonora. Sent to an orphanage, mute with
grief and fear, Leonora slowly bonds with another orphan,
James, who fights to protect her until both are sent
away--Leonora to a wealthy American family, James to
relatives who have emigrated from Ireland to claim him.
Years later, Leonora is given a chance to return to her
beloved Australia. There, in Wanjarri Downs, she will again
come face to face with James, who's grown from a reticent
boy into a strong, resourceful man. Only James knows the
truth about Leonora--that her roots and her heart are here,
among the gum trees and red earth. And they will fight to
find a way back to each other, even as war, turmoil, and
jealousy test their courage again and again.
Sweeping in scale yet filled with intricately drawn
characters and vivid details that conjure the fascinating
setting, Daughter of Australia is storytelling at
its most exhilarating and rewarding.