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Pearl in a Cage


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About the Author

Joy Dettman was born in country Victoria and spent her early years in towns on either side of the Murray River. She is an award-winning writer of short stories and the acclaimed novels Mallawindy, Jacaranda Blue, Goose Girl, Yesterday's Dust, The Seventh Day, Henry's Daughter, One Sunday and Diamonds in the Mud.


One might view Pearl in a Cage as an Australian Angela's Ashes, not just for the melancholic and painful tale Dettman ( weaves but also for the skill with which she crafts it. In 1923, the newborn child of a pregnant stranger found outside the small logging town of Woody Creek is rescued by midwife Gertrude Foote-a marvelously developed persona-and eventually grows to affect every person in the town. As listeners are pulled into the formative years of the young mother's life, they encounter an array of highly memorable characters. The chapters fly in this thoroughly engaging series starter, especially with Deidre Rubenstein's strong narration. A terrific mating of author and narrator, who earlier joined forces for Dettman's Mallawindy (2007) and One Sunday (2009), both also available from Bolinda Audio; highly recommended for adult audiences.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Joy Dettman is a bestselling author in the Australian historical fiction genre. The cover of Pearl in a Cage screams airport novel--it could be a page-turner, trashy yet enjoyable. Unfortunately, it's not. This is one of those epic, rambling sagas that spans decades. It begins in 1920s rural Australia with a captivating event--a beautiful foreign woman, clothed in expensive city get-up, is found dead by the train tracks, her newborn alive beside her. The child, Jenny--ostensibly the pearl--is adopted into a bad family situation, the mother favouring her real daughter before going mad and leaving them both with their feeble but well-meaning father. The sister, meanwhile, terrorises Jenny to the point where I wondered why she didn't incur brain damage, but she grows into an angelic, bright wonder-girl with golden curls. Dettman has a good imagination when it comes to her array of characters and their stories, and the time period makes an interesting setting, but unfortunately the writing's not up to par. The narrative lacks drive, often stagnating through repetition. Most of the characters are not nice, are inconsistently drawn and are sometimes over-thetop to the point where you don't believe in them enough to care. Hannah Francis is a bookseller at the Sun Bookshop, Yarraville

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