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The Settling Earth

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Marriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant — The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers’ a ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 16th 2014 by Odyssey Books
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Paula Vince
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a book of compelling short stories set in colonial New Zealand. They focus on a number of women who find themselves trying to eke out a living with their families.

At first, I thought the stories seem to follow on from each other like a set of dominoes. In each one, a reference is made to someone else, who then becomes the focal point of the next story. The domino arrangement is circular, as some of the characters we met at the start re-appear toward the end.

Though each of the stories can
Liz Barnsley
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A collection of beautifully written and interlinked stories, I very much enjoyed this one - the last story, written by Shelly Davies, really brings it all together. Really very good indeed.

The stories focus on English women and their move to a strange new land - each one leading to the next, beautifully interwoven and painting a vivid and compelling picture of the era, the life and the problems faced. There is a mixture of different emotional resonances to each one, some darker than others, the
Review to followThe Settling Earth is a collection of short stories, all linked, vignettes of colonial New Zealand. There are nine stories by Rebecca Burns, the tenth one is by Shelly Davies.

Each story is complete, more or less, in itself. Yet each story carries a kernel of and a link to the previous story. It was so interesting to see what would be the link. It was like a window was opened on a particular event, and then closed. The following story would do the same. The first story opens on th
Mawson Bear
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
They voyaged from Britain to the ends of the earth, “the antipodes”, expecting better chances and new lives. But the settlers brought with them the same stultifying conventions and social constraints.

Isolated on bleak farms or in soul-destroying boarding houses, the women in these stories are at the mercy of men’s whims and always one slip away from total poverty. They must reach deep down through their instincts to do what it takes to survive – or else succumb.

Though each story is complete, th
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Red ribbons...

This short collection of ten interlinked stories tells of the experiences of the British women who came as settlers to Auckland in New Zealand. From farmer's wife to prostitute, baby-farmer to temperance campaigner, each story stands on its own. But there's a red ribbon running through them, binding these women to each other even when they are unaware of it, their lives as linked as the stories about them. Themes run from story to story, of loneliness and belonging, of motherhood,
4.5 Stars

This book started slow; the first two stories of the anthology felt disjointed and almost a bit ethereal, not a quality I enjoy when I’m readying my occasional short story collection (not something I do often). But once stories three and four happened, I was gobsmacked by the connections I was making and the emotional journey that was taking me on. So the book definitely picks up quickly after the rough start!

The author’s skills at incorporating historical details and setting the New Ze
Literary Relish
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Starting with the portrait of a strained middle-class marriage on the homestead and ending with a reflective chapter by a Māori observer (courtesy of guest author Shelly Davies), Burns delicately links her stark snapshots from person to person, gradually developing a richer picture of the landscape and lives of the settlers; from prostitute to widow to writer.

To my huge delight my punt with an untested author paid off. The Settling Earth is a wide, sweeping, multi-faceted little jewel of a colle
Stacey Woods
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I like to read a short story collection from time to time and The Settling Earth was many of the things I like in fiction. Historical fiction immediately appeals to me, and while the exact time period is not pin-pointed in these stories, the sense of a newly-colonised New Zealand and Rebecca’s descriptions of that are very well done.

What I particularly liked in this collection, was that although the stories can stand individually and be enjoyed, there is a thread running through them. As you mov
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this little book of short stories! Rebecca has a very engaging writing style and she does a fantastic job of weaving each individual story into the next one in order to create a cohesive whole that resonates on a number of emotional levels.

This book is predominantly about the story of English women and their experiences of moving across the world to settle in the untamed wilderness of colonial New Zealand. I loved the degree of research that had obviously been poured into ea
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
In the 18th century, British emigrants began settling in colonial New Zealand. The new and harsh landscape along with the presence of the native Maori creates unease and conflict among the two groups. With ten interwoven short stories, the lives of several settlers and one Maori are examined.

I don't know a lot about New Zealand or its settlement by the British, so these stories were eye opening for me. The stories each provided a very intimate and in-depth look into the lives of a diversity of c
Nicola Mansfield
Jan 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lyrical, poignant collection of interrelated stories of pioneer life in New Zealand. Each tells it's own finite story but combined they present a dark, lonely tale of a community of people living within reach of Christchurch, the nearest town. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

1. A Pickled Egg (2008) - A woman ponders upon how she came to be in this new country so unlike the old as she occasionally pats her stomach. Nothing happens but sets a lovely scene and a good beginning to the collect
David Harris
Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm grateful to the publisher and author for letting me have an e-copy of this book via Netgalley.

Not far from where I work in London, at the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall, is a plaque commemorating a meeting held in the mid 19th century which led to the founding of Canterbury Province, New Zealand. I've often been past and pictured the Victorian worthies - probably male worthies - solemnly gathered. Clearly they thought a lot of themselves, ensuring that the event would be recorded on what
Karen Germain
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
About a month ago, I was contacted directly by author, Rebecca Burns for a review of her short story collection The Settling Earth. I tend to love short story collections and to be honest, I'm not sure if this book would have crossed my path had she not contacted me. Thank you to Burns and Odyssey Books for gifting me with a copy of The Settling Earth, in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT - The Settling Earth is a small collection of short stories set during the British colonization of New Zeal
Darth Vix
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’d like to preface this review by saying a big thank you to the author Rebecca Burns for giving me the opportunity to read this collection in exchange for an honest review!

The setting for this collection of ten short stories is during the British colonization of New Zealand. These ten stories explore the struggles of primarily women, but also a few men during this period. These struggles involve racism, marriage struggles, financial struggles, ethical struggles and so much more.

When I read the
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don’t know that much about New Zealand, other than it’s where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, there was a huge earthquake a few years ago and it’s where the kiwi bird is from. Oh and they have a lot of sheep. So when the author approached me about reviewing her collection of historical short stories set there, I was interested at once. Additionally, while I’ve been reading more SFF short fiction, I’d never yet read any historical short fiction, so I was interested to see whether short fictio ...more
Anjali (This Splendid Shambles)
The Settling Earth is a collection of 10 intertwining short stories, set in the 1800s in colonial New Zealand, focusing on the British settlers and their lives in a new country. Sarah has been uprooted from England and is living on a sheep run on the Canterbury plains; her husband William, too often visits the brothel in Christchurch; Phoebe is trying to stay away from abusive Oliver, worried that he will find her or their child; Mrs. Gray takes women's unwanted babies in for them; Laura paints ...more
Heather C
I have read several historical fiction short story collections and they tend to fall into two different styles; those that are all loosely based around a central theme, but not interrelated and then those that all contribute to telling a unified story. The Settling Earth falls into that later category, but at the same time, it is still different. These stories were more like character sketches. Each of the subjects has a unique experience in the burgeoning land of New Zealand that contributes to ...more
Jancee Tabacnic
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
The Premise: A wave of colonists from England migrate to New Zealand to build settlements, start new lives, and hopefully become wealthy. However, things aren’t always as they seem on the surface. Each of the stories in this collection is told from the viewpoint of a different colonist (plus one from the perspective of a Maori native!) as they try to discover what it takes to survive and thrive in this vastly differently landscape.

The Opening Line: Sarah woke to a fierce north wind.

What I Loved:
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Settling Earth is a collection of short stories about the daily lives of colonial British settlers in New Zealand. The stories are told from the viewpoint of ten characters, as they go through their personal problems and how they are confronted by their secrets. Most of the people in the story are from the viewpoints of women, with a little from the men’s side. While most of the characters are British, the last character is a Maori that works on a farm. The short stories are all connected wi ...more
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, read-in-2015
Ten short stories are woven together through settings and characters around life in New Zealand. Each story is very character driven as we are given a peek into their lives and what brought them to this place. Many of the stories share sacrifices and mistakes made. A few will fill you with sadness. One story even uses a mythical creature to carryout the character's final moments. The final story is written by a guest writer, Shelly Davies. She brings in the Native American piece and builds upon ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns is a very highly recommended collection of interconnected short stories set during the colonial settlement of New Zealand.

This is an exceptionally well written collection of stories that, when read together, capture a time and place through the eyes of many different characters all living during the 1800's in colonial New Zealand. Burns deftly captures the time, place, and characters so completely that I felt I had been transported back in time. In keeping the
People don’t change just because they cross an ocean, and the people of Rebecca Burns’ The Settling Earth are as recognizable as any citizens of a busy town today. There are women of ill repute, struggling to get by. There are men who prey on them. There are people with hopes and plans, and people in despair. And there are children, lost to their parents, passed into a world of darkness. This is Christchurch, New Zealand, as seen through the eyes of its 18th century inhabitants, and the author r ...more
Last year I read Rebecca Burns’ short story collection Catching the Barramundi, and I enjoyed it so much I was happy to receive her latest work for review.

The Settling Earth is a collection of short stories all set in the same time and place, a small settler’s community in New Zealand in the 1800’s. This book is almost a blend of novel and short stories, since each story leads in some way to the next one, and all the characters’ lives intersect. These are short, short stories, and just as you g
Vernita Naylor
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: relationships
If you are looking for a book with variety, consider getting a copy of The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns with guest writer Shelly Davies. In this book you will be able to enjoy stories from love lost and longing to death. The collection of stories, from The Pickled Eggs to Dottie to Balance, will entice you to want more. Dottie, written by Rebecca, puts me in mind of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Mrs. Gray, a widow, felt that it was her duty to take in unwanted chil ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Every once in a while I like to read a collection of short stories to take a break from novels. There are some collections of short stories where the pieces do a fantastic job of working together as a cohesive unit while maintaining their ability to stand solidly at an individual level. The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns is one such collection. Comprised of eight of Burns’ stories focused on British emigrants’ experiences in colonial New Zealand and one story by Shelly Davies providing a native ...more
Isobel Blackthorn
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In The Settling Earth, Rebecca Burns depicts with tremendous artistry the raw savagery of New Zealand’s early colonial days through a collection 0f ten interconnected stories.

The reader meets a farmer’s wife struggling to sate her husband’s needs, a prostitute, a woman taking in unwanted babies, a devout spinster, a writer and a young artist. These are women of talent, women of skill, women of resilience, women coping as best they can in conditions little different from those they left behind.

Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am not usually a short story reader, however I am so glad I took the time to read this wonderful collection by Rebecca Burns. I was sent a preview copy of this book with an encouragement to review (and in full transparency let me say that Shelly Davies, guest author of the final chapter is my incredibly talented sister!). Burns' stories flow together in theme and characters in a way that makes it read more like a novel than a collection of stories. I was unable to stop at the end of one, feeli ...more
Dianne Ascroft
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Settling Earth is an eclectic collection of stories that cleverly interweave the lives of the characters from one story to the next. Each new story takes a secondary character from a previous one and reveals that character’s experience. The stories are set in New Zealand’s towns and countryside. They are raw, often melancholy or disturbing, revealing human nature at its worst and sometimes its best. The reader can’t help but develop an appreciation for the courage and determination settlers ...more
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The Settling Earth" is a collection of beautifully written, poignant, skillfully interwoven short stories which detail aspects of the daily lives of colonial New Zealand. The last story is written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land. I loved all the stories in this book and Davies' story rounded the collection off beautifully.

As I read, I was reminded of Barbara Baynton's writing which I also love.

"The Settling
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: r-other, r-ng
The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns is a thought provoking collection of ten inter-related short stories set in the 1800s in New Zealand. The stories deal with the roles of and issues facing the women settlers and expertly render the New Zealand setting. Even in a few short pages, each story captures depth of character and emotion. Several leave you with the decision – What would you do next?

Read my complete review at:

Reviewed based on a galley received t
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Rebecca Burns is an award-winning short story writer and novelist. Her short story collections - Catching the Barramundi and The Settling Earth - were both longlisted for the prestigious Edge Hill Short Story Award, the UK's only prize for short story collections.

She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011, winner of the Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition in 2013 (and ru

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