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Daughter of Australia

By Harmony Verna Kensington Publishing Corp. 2016 In February I happened to be in Fremantle, Western Australia, visiting relatives. Browsing the internet, something stopped my fingers on the keyboard. A debut novel was about to hit the bookshelves, and its title was Daughter of Australia. Naturally that got my attention. But there was more. The novel begins in a remote township of Western Australia – Leonora. I could not believe it. My father spent his teenage years in Leonora and its sister township, the gold-mining hamlet of Gwalia. Virtually unknown outside Western Australia, this tiny town has a surprising connection to the United States. President Herbert Hoover made his name in mining there when, as a young geologist, he purchased the Sons of Gwalia mine for his employers in 1897. It became one of the richest mines in Australian history. Hoover’s name lingers in the “White House Hotel” in nearby Leonora, and the house Hoover built for his bride is now a bed and breakfast. The 31st president does not feature in this work of fiction. But the harsh life of the miners, contrasted with the wealth of the owners, does. Harmony Verna, an American who has never visited Australia, has managed to capture aspects of the desert landscape and its plants and animals. Her characters are complex and vivid. Billed as a worthy successor to Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, Daughter of Australia tells the story of an abandoned little Australian girl who, since no one knows who she is, takes the name Leonora after the tiny speck on the map where she was found. She is adopted by a wealthy American couple, marries unhappily, and returns with her husband to the land of her birth. Drama, based very loosely on historical events, follows in this fast- paced story. Set a hundred years ago, the story fleshes out contemporary concerns of immigrants vs. nativism, capitalism vs. workers’ rights, poverty vs. wealth, racism and misogyny. At its core, though, is a love story. This is a first novel for Harmony Verna. I wrote to her after I started to read the book, and we are now happily corresponding. I am so glad to have made Harmony’s acquaintance. I invite you to read her book, and to visit her website, to sample more of her writings.

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