Critically acclaimed novelist Robert Reuland presents the story of Julia Hannaway, a young Englishwoman convicted of murder and banished to Australia in 1827. A love story entwined in an adventure through a dark and perilous world, The Convict Maiden is surprisingly uplifting. Julia Hannaway is but seventeen when found guilty of murdering the soldier who seduced and abandoned her. Reprieved from a death sentence only because she bears her lover’s child, Julia is banished for life to the penal colony of New South Wales. Australia in 1827 is a young and wild country. The men are brutal and women are a rare sight. Far from the protection of home and family, having few friends but many enemies, Julia and her young son are upon arrival hastened to the notorious “female factory” at Parramatta, where she finds additional woe awaits.
A headstrong young woman, Julia meets her fate with fortitude, yet before long the wearying toil and the daily peril of being a women in a land of violent men and cruel women take their toil. At the very moment when Julia’s hopes seem gone, she chances to meet someone who can give them back: Teddy Doyle, a convicted Irishman whose devilish smile hides a dark and unspeakable past. Set largely in a nightmarish world that obeys its own rules of power, violence, and occasionally rebellion, The Convict Maiden is the tale of an educated woman exiled into the company of thieves, tarts, and victims of bad luck who finds that she will only in the end achieve freedom by living outside “civilized” society. At the heart of it there’s a very moving and convincing love story as well as a hugely powerful adventure of crime and punishment. Improbably from the pen of an American, here is an impeccably researched, classic Australian fable of people learning to become self-reliant as the values of the old world crumble around them.
Despite the very dark content it is an uplifting human tale of love and redemption. Author Robert Reuland, known for his highly praised series of contemporary crime novels, brings his sharp dialogue, rich wit, and powerfully observant eye to The Convict Maiden. The book has “an extraordinary voice that is distinctive, slightly strange, and utterly convincing.”
The Convict Maiden is unpublished, but the author has made it available to readers as a free downloadable book.