About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Isle of Tears by Deborah Challinor

Isle of Tears (Harper Collins, 2009)
I must admit I'm not a fan of historical romances but I thought I'd give this one a go as it was set in New Zealand during the Maori/Pakeha wars in the late 1800s. Deborah Challinor has a talent for historical writing and wanted to write about this conflict but felt she didn't have the cultural clout to do so as she wasn't a Maori. What she did to resolve this was to write through the eyes of Isla, an orphaned Pakeha teenager who was taken in by local Maori.
   Isla grows to womanhood and marries a young Maori warrior. When tensions ignite between Maori and Pakeha in the Waikato region Isla accompanies her man to war. Battle weary, Isla leaves the conflict to search for her younger siblings and is captured by officers of the queen who take her back to Auckland. Isla is determined to escape and return to the Taranaki region to be with her Maori family.
   Challinor has gone into great detail explaining the gritty realities of trench warfare. The reader can feel the hunger, the fear and desperation that the Maori must have gone through in these pitched battles. From the perspective of someone who is not a Kiwi I found a lot of the historical references confusing and confess I skimmed over a lot of the war strategy discussions. However the way Challinor describes daily Maori life is fascinating.
   Much of the dialogue is written in a broad Scottish accent which is initially unsettling, but becomes easier to cope with as you get engrossed in the story. A good novel for those who like historical romance.

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