This bleak story is set at the turn of the last century and starts in the frozen arctic regions of Sweden. A brutally poverty stricken family is forced to send their young daughter away to find her way in the world and escape impending starvation.
What follows is a page turner from author Henning Mankell, creator of the BBC's Wallander series. Good and bad fortune follow her travels in equal measures. Signed on as a cook on a steam ship, she marries the third mate during the long sea voyage to Australia but her new husband sadly dies at sea, never knowing she was pregnant. This is the starting point in a chain of events that will keep the reader thoroughly absorbed.
The mordant style of the author belies the extraordinary happenings in this tale of love, lust, corruption, racism, cruelty and violence. As readers, we are asked to judge events and attitudes that prevailed more than a century ago and it is interesting how many of the issues raised still seem to be with us today. This is a book that raises questions but manages to evade any clear answers yet nevertheless will keep the reader enthralled throughout their journey to and from this treacherous paradise.
Translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson