There was great excitement yesterday when the postman arrived with a book shaped parcel. Inside was a second-hand copy of Jamberoo Road by Eleanor Spence. It is the sequel to The Switherby Pilgrims which we read last year. Both books are published by Bethlehem Books and both books are historical fiction set mainly in Australia.
The Switherby Pilgrims
Miss Arabella Braithewaite of Switherby knows there is no future for the ten orphans—a remarkable mix of genteel and working class children—she has gathered together in these years of England’s grim factory growth in the early 1820s. Her plan, quite outrageous in the eyes of most, is to take the children to Australia to take up a land grant. Thus, one day the townsfolk gather to watch a line of departing “pilgrims” led by the fearless “Missabella.” On a new continent, and after a daunting ocean voyage, the challenges begin. To the orphans it becomes a life-giving adventure, even when serious unexpected threats must be overcome. Australian author Eleanor Spence, writing with keen personal insight, sketches each child and adult’s engagement with the new land and its people and with one another. From their courage we glimpse the futures of this unlikely band beginning to emerge with hope and personal dignity.
Five years ago, in 1825, Missabella and her ten orphans—the “Switherby Pilgrims”—had voyaged from England to New South Wales, in primitive Australia. By dint of tough pioneering work they had turned their coastal land grant into a true, if rustic, home. Missabella, now, is determined to provide for the future of her orphans according to each one’s character. Not an easy task, with such a varied, ragtag, yet lovable set of personalities and backgrounds as they represent. Selina will train in Sydney to be a milliner; Paul may become a midshipman; Francis loves to farm. But what will satisfy clever, independent Cassie, who has ambitions to be a writer? The “Jamberoo Road” leads her inland, to the discomforts and enticements of being governess in a wealthy colonial family. There restless Luke, likewise employed by the family, as a stable boy, will create his own troubles. Cassie’s story, interwoven with Luke’s and that of all the other orphans’ and their former farmhand Eben’s, is both an account of personal growth and a vivid journey into early-day Australia.
We really enjoyed The Switherby Pilgrims and were delighted when we found Jamberoo Road in our local library. I borrowed it and started reading it out loud. For some reason we didn’t finish the book before it was due back at the library. When we next went looking for the book we discovered that it had been ‘lost in transit’. We were all really disappointed. Would we be ever find out how the story ended?
A week or so ago, I ordered a secondhand copy of Jamberoo Roadfrom Better World Books and yesterday it arrived! I was going to start reading the book today but Gemma-Rose told me she’s forgotten so much of The Switherby Pilgrims, will I read that book again first?
We are particularly interested in these books as they are set in a part of Australia we are familiar with: the Illawarra, south of Wollongong, NSW.
The Switherby Pilgrims and Jamberoo Road are both available from Bethlehem Books and The Book Depository and Amazon.
I only saved several dollars by buying my second-hand copy through Better World Books but I think it was worth it. For every book bought on this site, Better World Books donates a book to someone in need. BWB are dedicated to promoting literacy and saving books from becoming landfill. And postage is free worldwide! There are 8 million new and used books to choose from. Maybe this is a good site to search for all those out-of-print books you’d really like to own.