All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Fortune’s Son by Jennifer Scoullar

on July 20, 2018

Fortune’s Son (The Tasmanian Tales #1)
Jennifer Scoullar
Pilyara Press
2018, 412p
Copy courtesy of the author

Blurb {from Goodreads.com}:

Heads you win. Tales you die …
Can one man’s revenge become his redemption? 

Young Luke Tyler has everything going for him: brains, looks and a larrikin charm that turns heads. The future appears bright, until he defends his sister from the powerful Sir Henry Abbott. His reward is fifteen years hard labour on a prison farm in Tasmania’s remote highlands.

Luke escapes, finding sanctuary with a local philanthropist, Daniel Campbell, and starting a forbidden love affair with Daniel’s daughter, Belle. But when Luke is betrayed, he must flee or be hanged. 
With all seeming lost, Luke sails to South Africa to start afresh. Yet he remains haunted by the past, and by Belle, the woman he can’t forget. When he returns to seek revenge and reclaim his life, his actions will have shattering consequences – for the innocent as well as the guilty.

Set against a backdrop of wild Tasmania, Australian Gold and African diamonds, Fortune’s Son is an epic saga of betrayal, undying love and one man’s struggle to triumph over adversity and find his way home.

This was a wonderful, multi-layered story that was engrossing from the very first page.

Luke Tyler is a teenage boy, coming to get his sister from her place of work, at the mansion of a local rich man. When he sees her being horribly mistreated, he comes to her aid, passionately defending her in a situation where he and his family can never be the winners. Sentenced to hard labour, he is taken to a prison farm in a remote and cold part of Tasmania. There’s not enough food, the labour is backbreaking. But Luke is smart and able to use his intelligence to get ahead, until a bizarre incident leads to his escape deep into the wilderness.

Luke is resourceful, determined and clever. He’s able to survive in situations not many could, using the knowledge imparted to him by Daniel Campbell, a man he had spent time with as a boy and the father of Belle, a girl that means the world to him. When he gets the chance to work with Daniel again, albeit under a different persona to avoid detection as a wanted man, he takes it to improve his knowledge and work to protect the beautiful Tasmanian wilderness.

Australia has a very unique flora and fauna but when Europeans ‘arrived’ in this country, they logged huge amounts of old growth forests for farmland and various other reasons and attempted to replicate their regimented English rose gardens. For a lot of the part, the climate is highly unsuitable to their preferences and a lot of our native species were decimated during this time of happily chopping anything down that stood in the way. This book is almost like a love letter to the Tasmanian wilderness and the character of Daniel Campbell is a man well ahead of his time, buying his property for the sole purpose of preserving the wildlife corridor. He enjoys cataloguing the local species and studying them but only to gain information and understanding and Luke is a willing pupil. A strong presence in this book is that of the Tasmanian tiger, a species now believed to be extinct (that’s the official classification, although there are occasionally claims of {unproven} sightings). The Tasmanian tiger was largely believed to be responsible for the loss of large amounts of sheep, being referred to as a vicious wolf that hunted in packs. There were bounties for tiger pelts and the combination of encouraged hunting, the introduction of dogs and destruction of their habitat all contributed to their disappearance. It’s become almost like a mythical creature to modern day Australians, I remember studying them in school and becoming fascinated by them. It was really interesting to read about them in this book, to get a little glimpse of them as wild creatures and how they fit into their environment.

This is also a story of enduring love between two people of unequal status and class and the complications of such a love. Belle and Luke were childhood friends, the innocence of youth chaperone enough as Belle also loved nature and learned from her father, Daniel Campbell. The Campbells were also somewhat progressive parents, raising Belle to be independent, to experience nature and make her own decisions but when she got older, that freedom only went so far and her mother took some drastic actions to protect Belle and make sure that her future would be secure. Despite the many troubles that befall them, both Luke and Belle’s love for each other isn’t diminished by distance or separation. You couldn’t help but want for them to find each other again, to be able to be together and just…..live.

I found myself hooked by Luke’s story from the very beginning. Watching him grow from a brash but honourable teenager determined to protect his sister to a grown man who makes the most of himself in a far away land was a really enjoyable journey. I loved the devotion to the land in the Tasmanian setting and that continued when the book focused on South Africa. There’s also a strong focus on workers and their rights as well, and the differences between the haves and the have nots. I haven’t read a huge amount of books set in Tasmania, especially during this time period as well, and it’s also not a place I’ve ever been to (although I really want to go) so I loved how strongly the setting presented. This was the sort of story which has so many different elements that it should appeal to a really broad audience. I can’t wait to read the next book, The Lost Valley. 

9/10

Book #118 of 2018

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