Diana Patterson & Rita Turner,
The Longest Journey
(Emerald, 2006)

Elspeth was only 5 when her father died. He worked for the estate of Lord Reginald Westerna, so the Lord took her into his home and gave her all the privileges he could, treating her like his own child. Unfortunately, Lord Westerna already had a child, a bad seed named Warwick, who was spoiled and resented Elspeth.

As the two grew older that resentment grew. When Westerna dies, Warwick acts on his resentment. Accused of a crime she didn't commit, Elspeth is put on a ship bound for Australia to serve her sentence.

Elspeth is an intriguing character who is faced with severe hardships more than once in her life and then is forced to make changes in her person and her station and essentially start over. Life isn't easy for Elspeth, but she really doesn't let it get her down; she does what she has to do and makes the best out of her situation. Working in the governor's house in Australia, she captures his attention and a chaste love affair grows.

I have mixed feelings on this story as there were bits I absolutely loved and parts I could have done without. For example, I loved Elspeth but felt the authors overstressed her virtues, reiterating over and over just how wonderful and talented she was. I also thought the boat rides between England and Australia were too long; I couldn't help but think how apt the title was.

While I love the detailed writing that really set the scenes, I felt it was lacking in the physical descriptions of the characters and excessive on the dresses Elspeth wore. I think I could probably bring out my Singer and recreate each frock based on those descriptions, but don't ask me to describe Elspeth.

If you are able to overlook and get past my nitpicks, which luckily I could, you are treated with a moving and interesting read. More adventure than romance, this was an impressive debut. I liked the characters and the storyline, and I found myself not wanting to put the book down on several occasions. When I had finished reading it, I was sorry there wasn't more to read. I would have liked more on the chapter in her life where she's finally got all her ducks in a row and she is happy, home and in love.

review by
Cherise Everhard

26 July 2008

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