Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Hidden Legacy by Heather Garside


For most of his life, Matt Jones believed he was the uneducated son of kindly servants who work at Fenham Manor in England. But when he discovers they are not his true parents, and that he is the grandson of the lord of the manor who has always treated him with disdain, Matt sets off to Australia to search for his parents.

With little money, he is temporarily hired by his mother’s brother, a wealthy stockman who holds nothing but contempt for Matt’s father, a man of low rank who married his mother after getting her pregnant with Matt years before. From his uncle, he learns the whereabouts of his family’s ranch, complete with both parents and numerous siblings.

But acceptance into his new family and life becomes a struggle as Matt finds himself embroiled in sibling rivalry and an illicit love affair with Isabella, the daughter of a neighbouring stockman. Soon, Matt leaves Isabella for the gold fields to make his fortune. Unprepared for the harsh life of a gold miner, Matt soon finds himself in unfairly in trouble with the law. It is only then that he realizes the depth of his love for Isabella.

A HIDDEN LEGACY is more than a love story. It is a realistic family saga steeped with family secrets, scandals, and rich, twisting plot themes. Heather Garside has realistically recreated 19th century life in the harsh Australian countryside. Although it is the sequel to The Cornstalk, it easily stands alone.

Drawing on her own, real life experiences regarding her own life and work on an Australian ranch, Ms. Garside s has written a realistic, compelling novel about the lives of early settlers in Queensland. This is one of the best Australian novels I have encountered and highly recommend it.