Archive for the ‘judy nunn’ Category


Kate Durham and her brothers, Neil and Alan, grow up on a palatial estate in Queensland during the head freedom of the sixties. The estate houses a massive sugar mill which was one of the most successful in the area. Established in the 1800’s by their great-grandfather Big Jim, who named it ‘Elianne’ in honour of is beautiful French wife he adored, it was a time when the sugar cane industry had hundreds of Kanaka’s (Pacific Island workers) and Elianne was staffed by many of these families.

Christmas in 1964 sees Kate home at Elianne, with her parents and brothers. Her father Stan idolised Big Jim but had no time for his own father Bartholomew. Learning Stan is planning to demolish the old house Big Jim built, Kate goes to say goodbye and discovers a trunk full of books her great-grandmother had cherished. Hidden underneath the books were ledgers written in French, Ellie’s diary of closely held secrets. Secrets Kate and her brothers kept hidden from Stan.

The plot went effortlessly from the 1960s to the 1880s and back, giving us an insight into lives and attitudes of the time. The characters were interesting, and the turmoil of Australia in the sixties was shown, a country which was embroiled in the Vietnam War, the White Australia Policy, politics and freedom of speech, the pill and rock’n’roll! The secrets Ellie kept would rock the family name and were the beginning of the deep and massive change to the Durham family.  I really enjoyed this book with its look into Australian history and recommend it for anyone who enjoys family sagas full of love, family, lies and secrets.

William Heinemann

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan