Ember Island-Kimberley Freeman

Ember Island
Kimberley Freeman
Touchstone, Apr 15 2014, $16.00
ISBN: 9781476743509

In 2012, highly regarded author Nina struggles with writer’s block of which she believes she knows the underlying cause that she conceals from everyone especially her agent Marla. She rationalizes to Marla that she needs to get away to complete her book. Although she knows her grandmother Eleanor’s house Starwater on Ember Island in Brisbane’s Moreton Bay suffered storm damage, Nina heads there to oversee the repair and hopefully complete her writing; unaware of what she will find there.

In 1891 Dorset, Matilda and Jasper marry but the ceremony turns tragic when her beloved grandpa dies. Grieving her loss, Tilly obediently follows her husband to the Channel Islands off of Normandy, but instead of solace and loving comfort in Guernsey she finds terror. Fleeing another trauma, Tilly arrives on Ember Island seeking inner serenity. There she becomes the governess to the prison superintendent’s daughter, Nell. Tilly diligently hides her past, but Nell observes everything and keeps journals that she hides all over the house.

Although there is a thematic similarity to Kimberley Freeman’s previous Australian novels (see Lighthouse Bay and Wildflower Hill), the three fully-developed key females provide a fascinating look at two women separated by over a century struggling with similar issues. Rotating the lead between Nina and Tilly, but linked by Nell, Ember Island is an engaging tale focusing on efforts regardless of the era to surmount heart-wrenching tragedy.

Harriet Klausner

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