Carolyn's Reviews > Fled

Fled by Meg Keneally
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it was amazing
bookshelves: australian-author, historical, 2019, netgalley, netgalley-2019

I haven't previously read any fiction set around the arrival of the first fleet in Australia in 1788 and the establishment of the first colony at Sydney Cove so really enjoyed this re-imagined account.

Based on the remarkable life of historical figure, Mary Bryant whose death sentence for highway robbery was commuted to transportation, it is an eye-opening account of what life would really have been like for the first settlers. As little is known of the actual details of the lives of the convicts involved, the author has given them fictional names, using the events in Mary's life as a scaffold for her main character, Jenny Gwyn (nee Trelawney).

It is a remarkable story. The British were totally unprepared to establish a new settlement and struggled to grow and find enough food in the harsh conditions and soon the colony was struggling to feed itself. While they needed farmers and builders to quickly get shelter and a food supply established all they had were a large group of uneducated petty thieves, already ill and half starved from the deprivations of the eight month journey in the hull of a ship. Contact with the Eora aborigines, who could have shown them how to feed themselves from the land, was discouraged by the Governor.

Like Mary Bryant, Jenny had become pregnant on the journey and so had baby Charlotte to also try to keep alive. From a Cornish fishing family herself, she astutely married a Cornish fisherman who was granted leave from the Governor to organise fishing for the colony. This allowed them some privileges in building their own family shelter and being allowed to keep some fish for themselves. It also allowed them access to a boat, a small cutter, which led to an audacious plan to escape to the Dutch trading post of Kupang in West Timor, an incredible journey of over three thousand nautical miles that took them 63 days. That all survived, including Mary/Jenny and her two small children (Charlotte and baby Emanuel) speaks to her toughness and tenacity. Unfortunately they were not to be free for long and the remainder of the book describes their recapture, nightmare journey back to England, Jenny's trial and her celebrity in the media of the day.

This is a lively, well written account of the arrival of the first fleet and it's attempts to establish a new settlement under ill-prepared and difficult circumstances. Built on well-researched historical detail, the author has captured the atmosphere of the time and conditions of life on the shores of Sydney Cove. I enjoyed learning of the life of Mary Bryant through the fictional version of Jenny Gwyn and I especially liked that, as Ms Keneally states in her Author's notes that since we don't know what happened to Mary after her trial, "I wrote for Jenny the ending I feel Mary deserves". Recommended for all those who enjoy well written historical fiction. 4.5★

With many thanks to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing for a digital copy to read.
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Reading Progress

May 4, 2019 – Shelved
May 4, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
May 4, 2019 – Shelved as: australian-author
May 4, 2019 – Shelved as: owned-tbr
May 4, 2019 – Shelved as: historical
June 15, 2019 – Started Reading
June 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019
June 16, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley
June 16, 2019 – Shelved as: netgalley-2019
June 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Karen Kay Nice review. I am just starting to read it.


message 2: by ☼♄Jülie  (last edited Jun 16, 2019 07:31PM) (new) - added it

☼♄Jülie  Ooh I can't wait to start this Carolyn, I have it sitting on my coffee table (and kindle lol) glaring at me. I loved the Monsarrat series she co wrote with her father and have been waiting for her to start on her own books 🤗
Great review! Glad you liked it.


message 3: by Dale (new)

Dale Harcombe A great review Carolyn


message 4: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Great review Carolyn. 😊


Carolyn Karen Kay wrote: "Nice review. I am just starting to read it."

Hope you enjoy it Karen. I always like historical fiction based on real characters.


Carolyn ☼♄Jülie  wrote: "Ooh I can't wait to start this Carolyn, I have it sitting on my coffee table (and kindle lol) glaring at me. I loved the Monsarrat series she co wrote with her father and have been waiting for her ..."

Can't wait to see what you think Jools - I think you'll enjoy it :)


Carolyn Dale wrote: "A great review Carolyn"

Thanks Dale - it was a good read and eductional as well. I missed out on a lot of Australian history since I arrived in Y8 (we were studying Asia by then) so I really enjoyed learning about Mary Bryant and that amazing escape to West Timor!


message 8: by Nat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nat K Fab review Carolyn! I just received my copy today and will be reading it soon ;-)


PattyMacDotComma Terrific review, Carolyn! I really enjoy reading (from a comfortable distance!) about this period in Aussie history and can't help wondering how anyone survived the voyage, let alone the completely foreign, non-European conditions they met. I'm glad Meg Keneally did a good job of it. I've still read only the first of the Monsarrat series, and of course everyone wondered how she'd fare on her own.


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