Jennifer (JC-S)'s Reviews > Corruption and Skullduggery

Corruption and Skullduggery by Alison Alexander
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it was amazing
bookshelves: australian-womens-writers-challenge

‘It’s 1805, and Maria Riseley – single, poor and pregnant —finds herself in the gloomy Female Factory, Parramatta.’

Maria Riseley was fortunate. She caught the eye of Edward Lord, a lieutenant in the marines, who just happened to be looking for a woman to accompany him to Hobart Town. Thus, incredibly, begins the story of the officer and the convict. Edward Lord and Maria Riseley (they married in 1808) made a fortune in early Hobart. Their business acumen and networking skills served them well, until the 1820s. Then, according to Dr Alexander’s fascinating book, they threw it all away: by extravagance and financial incompetence (Edward) and sexual infidelity (Maria).

The story of Edward and Maria Lord is also an account of early Hobart, of corruption, incompetent governance and scandalous behaviour (lieutenant- governors and others living in adulterous relationships!). This is not the history of Tasmania as I learned it at school fifty years ago.

Maria Lord comes across as a strong, intelligent woman. She manages the Lord’s business interests for long periods alone while Edward is absent, and has social connections of her own despite her convict past. Dr Alexander also includes a few ‘Flights of Fancy’ in which she imagines conversations between the Lords, to augment the facts. She also, as the last chapter, includes an Afterword which is the story of Louisa Smith (nee Lord), the last remaining great-grandchild of Maria and Edward.

For me, this book is a keeper. A fantastic account of Tasmania’s early colonial history, accompanied by beautiful photographs and illustrations, all on lovely glossy paper. I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in Tasmania’s colonial past.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Reading Progress

April 5, 2016 – Started Reading
April 5, 2016 – Shelved
April 5, 2016 – Shelved as: australian-womens-writers-challenge
April 13, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by T.S. (new) - rated it 1 star

T.S. Flynn You've gotta be kidding? Fifty bucks for a badly researched bodice ripper masquerading as history? Are you a mate of the author?


message 2: by Jennifer (JC-S) (last edited Oct 27, 2016 10:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jennifer (JC-S) T.S. wrote: "You've gotta be kidding? Fifty bucks for a badly researched bodice ripper masquerading as history? Are you a mate of the author?"

No. I am not 'a mate of the author'. I enjoyed reading the book. I'd heard of Edward Lord, but didn't know much about him or Maria Riseley. Can you recommend a better book?


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