Kiwiflora's Reviews > A Respectable Girl

A Respectable Girl by Fleur Beale
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Jan 10, 10

Read in January, 2010

A RESPECTABLE GIRL by Fleur Beale

Fleur Beale is a New Zealand author who mostly writes fiction for teenagers and young adults. This novel, though has universal appeal and is an excellent read for anyone after an historical novel. Set in the province of Taranaki in 1859, (which incidentally is the part of New Zealand where the author comes from) the story centres on Hannah Carstairs. Although only 15 years old, and still a girl to our way of thinking, she is on the brink of adulthood. The main town of New Plymouth is essentially a frontier town, raw, unplanned, unformed, dirty and often chaotic. Hannah lives with her twin brother Jamie, her English father, her Maori stepmother Rawinia and half brother Arama. Her mother died giving birth to the twins. An independent and spirited girl, Hannah is conflicted as to her eventual place in the world. She is smart enough to see how hard life is for the women in her community and consequently doesn't want a bar of marriage or babies. But she nows she cannot stay living with her parents forever, simply because there isn't enougth work or money to support everyone.

In New Plymouth and the province at large, war between the colonial settlers - the British - and the local landowners - the Maori - is looming over control of the land. Hannah finds her loyalties tested due to her peculiar family situation; at the same time she discovers interesting and alarming information concerning her parents and origins. Which in her forthright and independent fashion, with all the singlemindedness and passion of a teenage girl she sets about resolving.

Very well written, god plot and character development, with enough romance, intrigue and adventure to keep any young adult and not so young adults hooked. Nothing too complicated, just a jolly good read.
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