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All Sarah ever wanted was a better life ... From the bestselling author of Fled comes a moving tale of revolution, treachery and courage. In 1820 Sarah McCaffrey, fleeing arrest for her part in a failed rebellion, thinks she has escaped when she finds herself aboard the Serpent, bound from London to the colony of New South Wales. But when the mercurial captain's actions dri All Sarah ever wanted was a better life ... From the bestselling author of Fled comes a moving tale of revolution, treachery and courage. In 1820 Sarah McCaffrey, fleeing arrest for her part in a failed rebellion, thinks she has escaped when she finds herself aboard the Serpent, bound from London to the colony of New South Wales. But when the mercurial captain's actions drive the ship into a cliff, Sarah is the only survivor. Adopting a false identity, she becomes the right-hand woman of Molly Thistle, who has grown her late husband's business interests into a sprawling real estate and trade empire. As time passes, Sarah begins to believe she might have found a home - until her past follows her across the seas...


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All Sarah ever wanted was a better life ... From the bestselling author of Fled comes a moving tale of revolution, treachery and courage. In 1820 Sarah McCaffrey, fleeing arrest for her part in a failed rebellion, thinks she has escaped when she finds herself aboard the Serpent, bound from London to the colony of New South Wales. But when the mercurial captain's actions dri All Sarah ever wanted was a better life ... From the bestselling author of Fled comes a moving tale of revolution, treachery and courage. In 1820 Sarah McCaffrey, fleeing arrest for her part in a failed rebellion, thinks she has escaped when she finds herself aboard the Serpent, bound from London to the colony of New South Wales. But when the mercurial captain's actions drive the ship into a cliff, Sarah is the only survivor. Adopting a false identity, she becomes the right-hand woman of Molly Thistle, who has grown her late husband's business interests into a sprawling real estate and trade empire. As time passes, Sarah begins to believe she might have found a home - until her past follows her across the seas...

30 review for The Wreck

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    Another grand offering from Ms Keneally, and this time the background is political awakening of workers of 1819 which makes the main protagonist, Sarah McCaffrey flee England and seek refuge in New South Wales. Surviving a disaster, Sarah tries to find her own place in Australia, and she remains politically-engaged, strong-minded and determined to follow the path her parents and brother did in England. Again Ms Keneally portrays skillfully the place, the times and the people who, driven away from Another grand offering from Ms Keneally, and this time the background is political awakening of workers of 1819 which makes the main protagonist, Sarah McCaffrey flee England and seek refuge in New South Wales. Surviving a disaster, Sarah tries to find her own place in Australia, and she remains politically-engaged, strong-minded and determined to follow the path her parents and brother did in England. Again Ms Keneally portrays skillfully the place, the times and the people who, driven away from England for different reasons, manage, often by sheer luck or determination, prosper under new circumstances. Some characters are not that lucky, though. If you look for a protagonist who remains faithful to their beliefs, you will like Sarah. And the novel.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    This story is “loosely inspired by historical figures,” including Mary Reibey who was transported to Australia as a convict, later becoming legendary as a successful businesswoman. “At one point she held 405 hectares of land and was one of the richest people in the colony.” Also “some parts of the plot share contours with historical events.” This story brings a time period when a few were born into privileged life; the rest lived and worked in deplorable conditions. When the poor feeling oppresse This story is “loosely inspired by historical figures,” including Mary Reibey who was transported to Australia as a convict, later becoming legendary as a successful businesswoman. “At one point she held 405 hectares of land and was one of the richest people in the colony.” Also “some parts of the plot share contours with historical events.” This story brings a time period when a few were born into privileged life; the rest lived and worked in deplorable conditions. When the poor feeling oppressed gathered peacefully at St Peter’s Field demanding the reform of parliamentary representation, it ended in the Peterloo Massacre. With no response from the government, some extremist attempted to murder all the British cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister. The Cato Street Conspiracy ended in some being hanged and some sent to the penal colony in Australia. While on the way to Australia, the Dunbar ship was pushed into the cliffs near the entrance to Sydney Harbor, resulting in the Wreck of the Dunbar. Manchester, England, 1819. Sarah with her mother attend an assembly. They fight for the right treatment of the workers at cotton mills. The public meeting at St Peter’s Field turns deadly. Sarah and her brother follow a radical leader to London who exposes them to the works of Thomas Spence and Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man.” A radical idea goes the wrong way and Sarah finds herself bound for Australia. “There are opportunities in the colony, yes, but also peril and deprivation.” In Sydney, Sarah finds herself in not a much better situation than in England. She works at a boarding house in exchange for food and a roof over her head. No money whatsoever. The control of those with the money continues. But then she learns that the ones with the money in the new world weren’t necessarily born into that money like in the old world. And her eyes open for new opportunities. The story is captivating from the start to the end and presented with beautiful prose. I enjoyed the heroine who goes through different phases in her life. She is already a rebel at young age, who sees unfair treatment of workers at cotton mills. She becomes a radical as the poor’s pleas fall on deaf ears. The poor didn’t seek charity, but honest work. When there is no response from the government, then people revolt. In the new world, she sees the same oppression and later a chance for freedom she’s been fighting for. Her eyes open to different possibilities, instead of wasting her time on hushed conversations. The time period is interestingly explored through historical events. The situation of the poor and their justification for the fight is well-depicted. The new world is interesting in its trials and possibilities. And I just wished a tiny bit more of that was involved in this story. The life in the new colony is fascinating and would love a bit more of that. P.S. Also by this author highly recommend Fled. And if you read and enjoyed The Exile by Christina Baker Kline, you might enjoy this book as well.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Veronica ⭐️

    4.5 stars I did wonder how I would like this story as I do love Historical Fiction however I’m not a big fan of political based Hist Fic. I’m happy to say this story isn’t heavy on the political side. Sarah is very likeable. She has had a hard life and I wanted her to succeed. She is feisty, strong and intelligent. She speaks her mind. The wreck is a story of people pushed to their limit by poverty and hunger. Set during a time when even a peaceful protest has deadly repercussions when the Crown’s 4.5 stars I did wonder how I would like this story as I do love Historical Fiction however I’m not a big fan of political based Hist Fic. I’m happy to say this story isn’t heavy on the political side. Sarah is very likeable. She has had a hard life and I wanted her to succeed. She is feisty, strong and intelligent. She speaks her mind. The wreck is a story of people pushed to their limit by poverty and hunger. Set during a time when even a peaceful protest has deadly repercussions when the Crown’s yeomen intervene. “I will go with the men when they rise, though most do not want me to do so. Women hunger, and women die, so women must also fight.” Sarah McCaffrey is a strong female lead. She is not afraid to risk her life to fight for what she believes in. The story quickly moves from London to Sydney, New South Wales and we see that conditions are much the same as back in England. The rich are protected and prosper whilst the poor suffer and go hungry. We follow Sarah as she tries to fight for equality but not really knowing who to turn to or where to start. All avenues seem to lead to violence and bloodshed being the only answer. Set in the early 1800’s, Keneally paints a vivid picture of a growing Sydney with boarding houses, taverns, the busy harbour and the shanties and muddy streets of The Rocks. Through a mix of characters Meg Keneally shows the constant danger and degradation some women endured, selling their bodies on the street, to earn money to live a meagre life. In The Wreck strong women come in many forms and even when they are fighting the same fight as the men they are sneered at and looked down upon. Sarah is helped and taken under the wing of some kind people. Firstly the captain of the ship she escaped London on and then arriving in Sydney alone and penniless she is helped by business woman and philanthropist Mrs Thistle. Mrs Thistle is a remarkably drawn character and a key player in changing the lives of women through benevolence rather than violence. These strong women paved the way for more strong women to keep fighting to be heard, It, as we know, is a long fight through generations and I enjoyed reading Meg Keneally’s take on where it all started. *I received a copy from Beauty & LaceBook club.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nat K

    Upcoming buddy read with the talented Mr.Collski! Can't wait. We both loved Fled, so am looking forward to getting stuck into this one very much. Upcoming buddy read with the talented Mr.Collski! Can't wait. We both loved Fled, so am looking forward to getting stuck into this one very much.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

    *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘No light was coming from the crippled ship and precious little from the sky, so Sarah did not see the next wave until it was almost upon her, a shelf of black, angry water flinging her and the barrel towards the rocks.’ A high seas adventure, a renegade with the will to survive, grit, determination and overcoming adversity leads the charge in The Wreck. The second independent novel from Australian author Meg Keneally successfully recreates times gone by, whe *https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘No light was coming from the crippled ship and precious little from the sky, so Sarah did not see the next wave until it was almost upon her, a shelf of black, angry water flinging her and the barrel towards the rocks.’ A high seas adventure, a renegade with the will to survive, grit, determination and overcoming adversity leads the charge in The Wreck. The second independent novel from Australian author Meg Keneally successfully recreates times gone by, when the world was adjusting to the changes brought by industrialisation and every day proved to be a fight to survive. Rich in historical fact, detail and inspired by true events, The Wreck is remarkable slice of fiction from Meg Keneally. Opening in 1820 in Britain, we meet Sarah McCaffrey, who is escaping arrest following her part in a dangerous demonstration. With no one to turn to, Sarah departs on the Serpent, a ship destined for lands afar. Sarah’s passage to the colony of New South Wales is a death defying adventure. When the Serpent lands into trouble and hits rocky terrain, Sarah is the only passenger on board to survive the wreck. Taking on a new identity, Sarah begins to take steps towards building a life for herself in this new colony. The search for employment leads Sarah to a woman named Molly Thistle, who brings about plenty of confusion and change in Sarah’s life. But Sarah cannot escape her past, will it continue to haunt her? The Wreck is a rich historical fiction composition, pulled from research and fact by author Meg Keneally. A smorgasbord of historical detail, compelling characters, enthralling settings and problems to overcome defines The Wreck. This is my second experience of Meg Kennelly’s work and I enjoyed it very much. Divided into two parts, which are both preceded by notable quotes, The Wreck crosses from northern England, to London, with a stopover in Cape Town, while finally resting in New South Wales. Each location is vividly brought to life through the expert penmanship of Meg Keneally. We get a strong feel for the sights, sounds, smells, social practices, moral expectations and more from each destination. I appreciated my visit to all of the locations featured in The Wreck. However, what I valued the most from this novel was the opportunity to glean more from the history books, particularly the impact of industrialisation on the ordinary men, women and families of this time. It was incredibly detrimental, with poverty, homelessness and the sheer will to survive ruling all else. Keneally does a good job of illuminating this aspect of her tale for the reader. Strong characters populate The Wreck. This full bodied characterisation spreads right across the novel from the principal character of Sarah, right through to the various supporting cast. We often feel like a bystander during the events of The Wreck, standing alongside Sarah, Molly and the periphery characters of this novel. It feels as if Meg Keneally has taken her figures straight from the pages of history and injected life into these protagonists so we can connect, sympathise and revel in their escapades. In terms of the plot, readers will be satisfied with rich content and the fast moving pace of this novel. There was never a dull moment to be had and each new chapter brought about a change, problem, or advancement in the narrative. Keneally provides a good blend of adventure, action, danger, peril, friendship, love and satisfaction to her tale. I came away enjoying my sojourn into the past, thanks to the brilliant historical world building provided by Meg Kennelly. The Wreck is highly recommended, especially for keen eyed readers of historical fiction. *Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and Echo Publishing. The Wreck is book #114 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    The Wreck is an engaging historical fiction novel from Australian author Meg Keneally. Less than a year after Sarah McCaffrey’s parents are murdered while attending a peaceful protest against the cruelty of the Westminster government, Sarah is forced to flee London accused of high treason when a plan to attack the Cabinet is betrayed. Finding herself on a ship bound for the colony of Australia, her plans go awry when The Serpent wrecks against The Gap. As the only survivor, calling herself Sarah The Wreck is an engaging historical fiction novel from Australian author Meg Keneally. Less than a year after Sarah McCaffrey’s parents are murdered while attending a peaceful protest against the cruelty of the Westminster government, Sarah is forced to flee London accused of high treason when a plan to attack the Cabinet is betrayed. Finding herself on a ship bound for the colony of Australia, her plans go awry when The Serpent wrecks against The Gap. As the only survivor, calling herself Sarah Marin, she is taken under the wing of local business owner, Molly Thistle, but even though she has come so far, her past threatens to sink her new life. Set in the early 1800’s, The Wreck exposes what life was like for the women and men of the working class in London, left to starve when industrialisation made them redundant. Merging fact with fiction, Keneally places Sarah at the Peterloo Massacre, described at ‘the bloodiest political event of the 19th century in English soil'. The wreck of The Serpent also draws inspiration from a true event, the sinking of The Dunbar in the mid 1850’s, which still ranks as one of Australia’s worst maritime disasters with the loss of all but one of its 122 crew and passengers, a young Able Seaman thrown onto a cliff ledge. The township of Sydney, still in its infancy in 1820, is well described by Keneally with its crowded port and dusty streets. Though the colony is plagued with similar social issues as in London, which especially affect women, Sarah’s association with Mrs Thistle (modelled loosely on Mary Reibey) helps her to recognise there are alternatives to fostering change, that do less harm to those they are trying to help. Keneally has created a strong-willed and resilient heroine in Sarah, though her age is never stated she is probably only in her late teens when she arrives in Australia. She has endured so much loss that her anger at the government and the ruling class is understandable. In the wake of the massacre, Sarah was easily convinced a bloody revolution could be the only answer, but once in Australia, Sarah’s opinion begins to change. I liked the friendship between Sarah and Nell, and the mentoring relationship that Keneally developed between Sarah and Mrs Thistle. The touch of romance is sweet addition too. A well-written story of rebellion, betrayal, survival and courage, I enjoyed The Wreck.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    sad and real and moving. definitely recommend Historical fiction- set in 1820- with a dash of romance Australian author Set in London and Australia It’s late I really don’t feel like writing a review however I’ve told myself to start using this app/website more so here I am. I basically started this book at 4pm and read until 1:30am- Literally couldn’t put the book down. I borrowed the book for an author visit on Friday the 21 of august but I think I’m going to buy it. This book made my apprecia sad and real and moving. definitely recommend Historical fiction- set in 1820- with a dash of romance Australian author Set in London and Australia It’s late I really don’t feel like writing a review however I’ve told myself to start using this app/website more so here I am. I basically started this book at 4pm and read until 1:30am- Literally couldn’t put the book down. I borrowed the book for an author visit on Friday the 21 of august but I think I’m going to buy it. This book made my appreciate the rights I have as a woman and made me want to continue fighting for equality. It also made me grateful for all the good people in the world- you know who you are. Love, 🌞🌻

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer (JC-S)

    ‘Talk is where everything starts. And they know it.’ A peaceful rebellion in Manchester, England in 1819 leave Sarah McCaffrey and her brother Sam orphaned. They move to London where their involvement in a failed rebellion in 1820 leads to Sam being hanged for high treason and Sarah fleeing for her life. Sarah finds herself aboard the Serpent bound for New South Wales. ‘She was alone, at the edge of everything.’ But when the Serpent is wrecked off the Gap, Sarah is the only survivor. She awakens in ‘Talk is where everything starts. And they know it.’ A peaceful rebellion in Manchester, England in 1819 leave Sarah McCaffrey and her brother Sam orphaned. They move to London where their involvement in a failed rebellion in 1820 leads to Sam being hanged for high treason and Sarah fleeing for her life. Sarah finds herself aboard the Serpent bound for New South Wales. ‘She was alone, at the edge of everything.’ But when the Serpent is wrecked off the Gap, Sarah is the only survivor. She awakens in the infirmary and, as Sarah Marin, starts a new life. Molly Thistle, ex-convict, and local entrepreneur employs Sarah. And Sarah soon becomes an important part of Molly Thistle’s empire. However, Sarah’s past threatens to catch up with her. Ms Keneally has drawn from historic figures and events to create this engrossing tale of fiction, including the Peterloo Massacre (Manchester 1819) and the wreck of the Dunbar (in 1857). Sarah is idealistic, courageous, and strong. In New South Wales, her idealism is tempered by realism as she comes to realise that rebellion is not the only way to effect social change. I enjoyed this novel, with its well-defined characters and focus, both in the UK and in New South Wales, on a range of early 19th century social issues. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    LITERALLY SO GOOD THE WRITING AND STORY IS ALL SO AMAZING HIGHLY RECOMMEND

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

    This is the second solo book by Meg Keneally, and the first of her works that I have read. Her first solo novel was Fled, and she has also co-authored two books with her father Tom Keneally (with a rumoured ten more to come!). I loved the cover chosen for this work, the threatening seas, waves crashing on the huge cliffs, the windswept girl and the, by comparison, small boat battling to stay on course. Even the title is wreathed in splashes of water and the writing looks like it has survived a st This is the second solo book by Meg Keneally, and the first of her works that I have read. Her first solo novel was Fled, and she has also co-authored two books with her father Tom Keneally (with a rumoured ten more to come!). I loved the cover chosen for this work, the threatening seas, waves crashing on the huge cliffs, the windswept girl and the, by comparison, small boat battling to stay on course. Even the title is wreathed in splashes of water and the writing looks like it has survived a storm. Look even closer and you can see parts of what may be a letter, or writing in a journal, hiding within the stormy skies. So evocative. The tale itself, a skilful piece of historical fiction, introduces us to Sarah McCaffrey, daughter of skilled cloth artisans whose livelihoods have been jeopardized by the industrial revolution and the introduction of the cotton mills. Forced into working at the mills in order to survive, struggling to put food on the table, and with a government that seemed to care little for the common person, the story opens on 16 August 1819 in Manchester England. Today the people of the town are marching, laughing and singing to the open fields where they will be addressed by the great orator, Harold Hartford, supported by Delia Burns, founder of the local Female Reform Society, a group to which Sarah and her mother Emily belong. On arrival at the designated place Hartford and Burns ascend the makeshift stage and Hartford begins to speak. He is only a few words in when the unthinkable happens, the Magistrates, having deemed the gathering to be illegal, and afraid of what the gathering foretells, sends armed Yeomanry and Hussars into a peaceful unarmed crowd. When the carnage is over, and dead and dying litter the field Sarah finds her brother alive Sam, but her parents senselessly killed. A chance meeting sees Sarah and Sam moving to London and embroiled in a plot to kill members of the government. When things go wrong Sam is arrested, tried for Treason and condemned to death. Sarah manages to avoid detection, but now there is a price on her head. She manages to obtain passage on a ship bound for Australia but a series of events including wild weather, a misunderstanding of the position of the lighthouse, and a ship held together with second hand parts sees it floundering on the rocks at the Heads. When Sarah awakes in an infirmary she is stunned to discover that she is the sole survivor of the ship. Alone, penniless, in a foreign country, but still with fire in her heart for the revolution to oust the English government, Sarah must now work out how to survive. But the English arm of the law is long, and Sarah is still wanted for high treason. The arrival of one of the other participants in the failed coup in a convict chain gang confirms this. Can Sarah escape the fate that awaits her if she is discovered and instead make a new life for herself as she finds there is more than one way to change the world? I thoroughly enjoyed this book; whilst we know that the industrial revolution changed most peoples’ lives for the better in the long term, it was very interesting to read a book from the perspective of a family that had lost their livelihood as a result of the mills and the impact it had on them. I also enjoyed reading a book that addressed early settler life in Australia from neither the convict or the free settler perspective. Keneally describes an entirely different perspective on early settler life with strong believable characters from differing backgrounds trying to make a go in an often hostile new land. Many thanks to Beauty and Lace book club and Echo publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book. If you love historical fiction you are sure to love this book, highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cindy L Spear

    Bravery of the highest order is seen in what some call a rebel, a radical but definitely a stowaway, shipwreck survivor! This is a woman on a mission and this woman’s name is Sarah McCaffrey who flees a rebellion in London and boards the Serpent ship heading for the colony of New South Wales. But before she sets foot on Australia’s rustic shores, the trial for survival begins. Once in the new land, she finds friendship, sadness, love and eventually forgiveness. Into this strange new existence, s Bravery of the highest order is seen in what some call a rebel, a radical but definitely a stowaway, shipwreck survivor! This is a woman on a mission and this woman’s name is Sarah McCaffrey who flees a rebellion in London and boards the Serpent ship heading for the colony of New South Wales. But before she sets foot on Australia’s rustic shores, the trial for survival begins. Once in the new land, she finds friendship, sadness, love and eventually forgiveness. Into this strange new existence, she is thrust where her beliefs are challenged and her heart shattered but she discovers there are other ways to bring about the much-needed changes in society. I sincerely loved Meg Keneally’s second solo The Wreck. This upcoming release due out in September 2020, published by Echo Publishing, is masterfully written and one of the most incredible novels I have ever read. It is brilliant in setting, direction, dialogue, plot and characterisation and will keep you turning page after page cheering, weeping and motivated. I loved Sarah from the very start and the unfolding of Mrs Thistle's character was pure genius. She's one lady I would want on my side! With some interesting common threads between them, their union leads the reader down some fascinating roads and detours. Mrs Thistle’s mentorship also helps Sarah grow in ways she would never have anticipated. I was deeply moved by the story and characters. Also, the detail of each authentic setting drew me in and my experience was heightened by it. This is a novel that would do well on the big screen. I highly recommend this novel to every person who enjoys intelligent historical adventures and exquisite writing. I give it a 10 out of 5 as it is just that perfect! Meg, her publisher and team have produced a winner. Don’t miss this release due out in September 2020. Thanks to Meg and Echo Publishing for an advanced copy. My comments are sincere and an honest review of how I see this novel. Review as posted on my website.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marg

    4.5/5 There seems to be a lot of really great Australian historical fiction around at the moment. Just this year I have read and enjoyed books by Alison Stuart, Victoria Purman, Tea Cooper and more, and now to this list I need to add Meg Keneally. Sarah McCaffrey is a young woman who was left orphaned when her parents are killed in a peaceful protest turned massacre in Manchester. Along with her brother, Sam, she flees to London but they soon find themselves caught up in a rebellion plot. Unfortun 4.5/5 There seems to be a lot of really great Australian historical fiction around at the moment. Just this year I have read and enjoyed books by Alison Stuart, Victoria Purman, Tea Cooper and more, and now to this list I need to add Meg Keneally. Sarah McCaffrey is a young woman who was left orphaned when her parents are killed in a peaceful protest turned massacre in Manchester. Along with her brother, Sam, she flees to London but they soon find themselves caught up in a rebellion plot. Unfortunately for Sarah, there is a police informant in their midst so the plot is foiled. Sarah escapes to a ship docked at the wharves of London called The Serpent. All alone in the world, Sarah finds herself unwillingly under sail. The boat, The Serpent, is headed for the other side of the world, to the colony of Sydney. The ship's captain was an ally to the planned rebellion, but he is a danger in other ways. He doesn't have a great relationship with other captains or shipowners and the ship itself isn't in great condition either. Having assumed a new identity, Sarah befriends another young woman on the ship, as well as some of the crew. When they are just hours away from reaching their destination there is a terrible storm, and the ship is dashed into the cliffs. Sarah is the only survivor, and so once again she is alone in the world To read more, head to http://www.theintrepidreader.com/2020...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    This was interesting Australian historical fiction. Seeing a lot of injustices in he young life, Sarah seeks revolution. I found the scenes in England fascinating. Then the ship wreck and subsequent events. I liked Molly Thistle and all she stood for. Although at times, there seemed a lot of luck, this was still a stirring and imaginative story that captures issues facing women.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Penny O'shea

    A very readable historical fiction set in the 1820s in both England and Australia. I was thoroughly engaged and couldn’t wait to get back to it. Wouldn’t mind a sequel either!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leah Kaminsky

    A deft and prescient novel which examines crucial issues still as relevant today as they were two centuries ago - female leadership, suffrage and friendship, as well as the link between oppression and radicalisation. Highly recommended!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caren

    (3.5)The social and political climates of 1819 England and of New South Wales in the early 1820s were skilfully recreated by Keneally in this compelling historical novel. I was disappointed, however, to learn from the Author's Notes that the bulk of Keneally's recreation was entirely fictional, which then explained the absence of the historical detail I normally look for in such a narrative. Nonetheless, Keneally's story featured how young Sarah McCaffrey was drawn into a public massacre that ha (3.5)The social and political climates of 1819 England and of New South Wales in the early 1820s were skilfully recreated by Keneally in this compelling historical novel. I was disappointed, however, to learn from the Author's Notes that the bulk of Keneally's recreation was entirely fictional, which then explained the absence of the historical detail I normally look for in such a narrative. Nonetheless, Keneally's story featured how young Sarah McCaffrey was drawn into a public massacre that had caused the death of her parents and the rebellion it launched, having prompted her to join with the radicals demanding parliamentary reform from a government accused of starving its impoverished citizens. Sarah's activity forced her to flee England and the same fate of her brother, hanged as a radical and beheaded. Although I found some of the aspects contrived of Sarah's escape and lone survival of the shipwreck that brought her into Sydney, she was such an intriguing character that my interest in her allowed me to overlook the melodrama. We "experienced" the new colony and its social/political divisions through Sarah's eyes as she adopted a new identity in the chaotic world she now faced as an escapee. The minor characters Keneally created as Sarah's enemies and supporters were credible and engaging, furthering the energy of this narrative. The focus on the females in this tale was welcomed and maintained my interest through until the conclusion...also contrived.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Sarah escapes England after she finds herself a wanted person after a failed rebellion attempt. She becomes the only survivor when the ship sinks outside Sydney Harbour. Then begins her life in Sydney - will she continue to be invovled in rebellion in the new colony? I enjoyed the storyline, reading about early Australia is a favourite genre for me, but I did not warm to the characters. I maybe needed a deeper connection.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Peter Langston

    An interesting book which shapes its narrative around several events and characters in history without trying to retell their story. For instance, the horror of the Peterloo Masacre in St Peters Field, Manchester in 1819, when up to 100,000 peaceful and hungry people turned up to listen to a speaker talk about change and empowerment for the poor but were instead mowed down and many of them killed. Keneally brings the impact of this event on her main character, Sarah, down to the individual level An interesting book which shapes its narrative around several events and characters in history without trying to retell their story. For instance, the horror of the Peterloo Masacre in St Peters Field, Manchester in 1819, when up to 100,000 peaceful and hungry people turned up to listen to a speaker talk about change and empowerment for the poor but were instead mowed down and many of them killed. Keneally brings the impact of this event on her main character, Sarah, down to the individual level. The high treason which is attempted soon after also owes its inspiration on a real event and Sarah's survival from a shipwreck off the Gap, outside the Sydney heads, owes its descriptive nature to the retelling of the Dunbar tragedy. Mrs Thistle is a product of the life accounts of the doer widow merchant of early Sydney fame, Mary Reibey but to the author's credit, she is not Mrs Thistle either. The story itself rolls along at a good pace, sometimes at the cost of character development, which often requires the reader to not examine the charcaters too closely. Despite this, its a good tale and one which differs from most others of early Australia, in that women rise above the gender and class suppression of the England of their birth, to be strong, influential lead characters. One wonders if that is because history was written by men or re-written by women?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Pigna

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Very enjoyable. Read very quickly as the story flowed beautifully due to Megs excellent writing style. Sarah is a strong and determined character who from the start shows that she will shape her own destiny. Tight storyline, wonderful descriptive language creates lifelike imagery of specific traumatic events, the hanging of her brother and the ship wreck of the Serpent as it nears its final destination. Molly Thistle was an excellent characterisation not only as a woman with influence but fairne Very enjoyable. Read very quickly as the story flowed beautifully due to Megs excellent writing style. Sarah is a strong and determined character who from the start shows that she will shape her own destiny. Tight storyline, wonderful descriptive language creates lifelike imagery of specific traumatic events, the hanging of her brother and the ship wreck of the Serpent as it nears its final destination. Molly Thistle was an excellent characterisation not only as a woman with influence but fairness like many individuals who came as convicts were able to be very successful and create a legacy of good deeds and institutions to help others. Recommend it to historical fiction readers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Denise Newton

    https://denisenewtonwrites.com/?p=2336 The Wreck will appeal to readers who enjoy their historical fiction well seasoned with convincing detail and believable characters, and themes that are as relevant today as to the period in which the novel is set. The Wreck Meg Keneally https://denisenewtonwrites.com/?p=2336 The Wreck will appeal to readers who enjoy their historical fiction well seasoned with convincing detail and believable characters, and themes that are as relevant today as to the period in which the novel is set. The Wreck Meg Keneally

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    I really liked this book, I usually enjoy historical stories but rarely read them. This was a great snapshot of the start of the Industrial Revolution plus the colonisation of Australia, and the generally terrible life lead by the poor in those times. I liked all of the characters, and thought the book was well written and interesting - I'd read other books by this author. I really liked this book, I usually enjoy historical stories but rarely read them. This was a great snapshot of the start of the Industrial Revolution plus the colonisation of Australia, and the generally terrible life lead by the poor in those times. I liked all of the characters, and thought the book was well written and interesting - I'd read other books by this author.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah McCallan

    Took a while to get into but when I did I read it in a day. I thought it was quite good. Not amazing but ok.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Loved it

  24. 5 out of 5

    Denita

    I like reading historical fiction and this was an enjoyable read. I always like to read the Authors Notes at the end which gives far more meaning to the book and its characters.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Franceschini

    Nicely written historical fiction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Sections of this novel were very engaging and other parts, particularly those based on the historical events were less so. However it was an interesting tale and worth persistence.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ozbernie

    3.5 stars

  28. 4 out of 5

    Vick Collins

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ainslie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

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