Jenny Gwyn has proven herself a survivor. Faced with destitution after the death of her father, she toughens her skin to become a highwaywoman in order to support her impoverished family. But one fatal mistake leads to her arrest, and the king’s justice demands her death. Rather than beg for mercy, Jenny condemns the system that would have her choose between obeying the law and dying, and breaking it for a chance to live. Her ferocity convinces the judge to spare her life, sentencing her and dozens of other convicts to a transport across the world to help settle England’s newest colony in Australia.
Based on the true story of Mary Bryant, an iconic figure in the foundation lore of Australia as Great Britain’s penal colony, Fled by Meg Keneally is a sweeping, heart-wrenching account of one woman’s life-long search for freedom.
Pageturners spoke about Jenny’s (Mary’s) character, her husband Dan, the themes – survival, injustice, class, resilience, hardship endured by First Fleet, sailing dramas, navigation, trauma of losing children, Indigenous element, the cover design, the meaning of the title, and the challenges of writing historical fiction and non-fiction.
Comments included: “loving it, love her writing style and economy of words, not a word wasted, familiar with story of Mary Bryant, just like a movie – I’m right there beside her, clever writing, it just irked me that she had someone else’s name, easy to read, it fleshes out her story a lot, gruesome read, fleeing from poverty, the law, penal colony, abrupt ending, not all believable, she was not a hero, I learnt about the start of Australia, I wanted to know what her later life might have been like.”
Most Pageturners rated the book 4 stars out of 5.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 11 September from 5.30pm to discuss Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.