By Ruth Reynolds
Historical Romance, 251 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud
Emma leaves England to marry Frank the Australian she met in WW1 London arriving in Sydney to find things are not as expected.
Adjusting to country life, jealousy and tragedy, Emma finds help from an unexpected source, which brings unplanned complications into her life.
Having learned to take things one day at a time, a letter out of the blue changes everything around.
Emma had adjusted quite well to yet another change in her life by accepting the good with the bad, with the thought that surely there would be an improvement soon. In many ways she was very much on her own, as Frank dealt with the difficult situation by virtually ignoring it. Whenever she tried to engage him in conversation, he either became evasive, or was defensive about his inability to find work. Whether he was really trying, Emma had no way of knowing, for he refused to discuss it. Certainly he left the house most days ostensibly in search of work, but the fact that he always smelt of alcohol when he finally came home made her wonder how quickly he had given up on his search.
She tried to question Hannah about it, for it was his sister who would know some of the facts, working as she did at the only hotel in the area. Poor Hannah, torn between loyalty to her brother and her friendship with Emma, was not a lot of help. Her excuse for Frank was that as everyone from the area came eventually to the pub there was as good a chance as anywhere else for him to hear about any jobs that may come up. This may well have been true and as she knew virtually nothing about the district and its way of life, Emma had no recourse other than to accept it at face value.
She found it impossible sitting in the house alone, for with Hannah at work and Frank gone on his travels, there was always a painful awareness of the other presence in the house. Emma often wondered what the older woman did to pass the time, for she spent all day in her closed room. She ate virtually nothing during the day and only emerged to visit the privy, returning to her bedroom without a word spoken.
With so much time on her hands, Emma decided to explore the area outside the house. Realising that her city clothes were totally unsuitable for venturing into the bush, she found an old pair of Frank’s trousers, which she cut off to suit her shorter legs. She wore them with a long sleeved blouse tucked in at the waist, a length of rope to hold them up and the trouser legs tucked into thick socks. This, with stout boots and a broad-brimmed hat was her uniform for her almost daily trips of exploration.
There were many well-trodden paths leading into the bush, so armed with a stick (for out here her fear of snakes was justified) she set off wearing an old haversack she had found in one of the cupboards. In it was her book, either the one on botany or whatever she happened to be reading at the moment, a bottle of water and a rough sandwich of bread and cheese, wrapped in greaseproof paper.If she intended to spend her time in a shady spot writing letters rather than reading, she packed a writing pad and her Waterman fountain pen. Neither Frank nor Hannah ever saw her in her “bush clothes,” as she thought of them, for by the time they came home she had changed into more acceptable gear. Whether the other inhabitant of the house knew about it she knew not and cared even less.