Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Child Adoption Drama THE LOST BLACKBIRD by @LizaPerrat

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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The story begins in January 1962 when Lucy and Charly Rivers’ father comes home drunk, as he often does, and a fall leaves him dead at the bottom of the stairs. Their mother, who was out at the time, was charged with his murder and the sisters were sent to Easthaven Home for Girls. The home was run by authoritative and heartless Mrs Mersey, who spared no kindness or pity for the unfortunate girls in her supposed care.

“Because once Mrs Mersey rang the meal bell, you had to stop talking, sniffing and coughing. And there was definitely no crying. You had to go to the toilet and wash your hands. And on the next bell you had to go to the dining room, and if you even sneezed Mrs Mersey would dart you the crow-eyed look that knocked your knees together. You were only allowed to speak to say Grace or answer if Mrs Mersey — Mrs Merseyless the Seniors called her, behind her back — spoke to you, which she only ever did to tell you off or punish you.”

When the girls were offered the chance of what seemed like a wonderful new life in Australia, with its sunshine, long, sandy beaches, fruit that can be eaten straight from the tree, parks and play areas, not to mention the kangaroos and koala bears, Lucy was concerned it sounded too good to be true and their mother would never be able to find them. But they had no choice in the matter. They were shipped out, along with Lucy’s best friend, Vinnie, and several others. Lucy hoped the life described to them would benefit Charly, who wanted her mum and was having a hard time coping at Easthaven.

The children bloomed on the six week trip across the ocean, with fresh air, good food, new clothes and lots of time for activities. Their idyll came to an abrupt end when they reached Australia. Despite being promised siblings would be kept together, Lucy and Charly were separated and were taken to different areas of the country.

The Lost Blackbird is a fictionalised account based on real events and exposes a dark and terrible time in a not too distant past. Vulnerable children, who were not necessarily orphans, were shipped off to Australia, in most cases without their parents’ knowledge or consent, and very often with a life of drudgery and servitude ahead. No better off, in fact, than life in Easthaven, and in some cases worse. Carly, at five years old, was adopted. Lucy, twice her age, wasn’t so lucky. The story is told from both Lucy’s and Charly’s perspectives, Lucy’s harsh life on a farm in the outback and the contrast of Charly’s life with her adoptive parents. But even then things weren’t as they seemed and had adverse effects.

Liza Perrat has obviously researched the historical facts extensively and consequently the story reflects the abuse, both physical and mental, in England and Australia, that children were forced to endure. Characters are extremely well defined, their personalities evident and believable in the way their experiences shaped them and were easy to visualise, in some cases hard to forget.

The writing is wonderful, the setting perfectly realised. Liza Perrat has the knack of pulling the reader in and giving a sense of involvement. A compelling, moving and powerful read, all the more so because we know it actually happened. I’m very glad Lucy and Charly’s story ended they way it did, although I’m sure this wasn’t the case for many of those deported.

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction About Child Migration to Australia THE LOST BLACKBIRD by @LizaPerrat

Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading The Lost Blackbird by Liza Perrat

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The Lost Blackbird is an intriguing novel about a group of child migrants who are taken from a shelter for children in England and shipped to Australia. The children are misled about a number of things including that siblings would stay together and that their lives would be better in Australia. This story is based on true facts about the English child migrants to a number of British colonies and was particularly shocking for me as this story took place in the 1960s.

Sisters, Charley, aged 5, and Lucy Rivers, aged 10, agree to go to Australia following the death of their abusive father and subsequent arrest of their mother who is accused of manslaughter. Easthaven children’s home is run by sour and unkind spinsters who have no sympathy for the children in their care. Charley is not thriving and Lucy hopes that she will rally a bit in the warm climate in Australia. Lucy’s best friend, Vinnie Armstrong, also gets selected for the relocation as well as Jane Baxter, whose face is disfigured due to a cleft palate which has been badly repaired, and twins, Patty and Sara, who both wear thick glasses. Lucy is a bit suspicious as she can see that it’s the children with physical imperfections and troublemakers, like herself and Vinnie, who are selected to go to Australia. She goes ahead with it because she hopes it will be better for Charley.

This book is well researched and insightful about the hardships and abuse faced by many of these child migrants who are sent to farms and treated as slave labour. A few of the fortunate younger children are adopted.

The character of Lucy is well developed and it was sad to read her story of years of physical abuse at the hands of Milton Yates, who takes a group of older migrants on their to help him run his farm. It was disconcerting and poignant to watch Lucy’s self esteem and confidence being eroded away to nothing. Lucy eventually loses the fight and becomes a victim of her circumstances.

Charley, on the other hand, has a different life as the adopted child of a wealthy couple who have no children of their own. Charley’s life seems idyllic but nothing in her life is as it seems.

The two girls live in the same part of Australia and their paths are destined to cross again later in their lives with some surprising outcomes.

This is a well written and enjoyable read and will appeal to readers who enjoy historical novels with a good outcome.

Book description

A powerful story of sisters cruelly torn apart by a shameful event in British-Australian history. Clare Flynn, author of The Pearl of Penang
London 1962. A strict and loveless English children’s home, or the promise of Australian sunshine, sandy beaches and eating fruit straight from the tree. Which would you choose?
Ten-year-old Lucy Rivers and her five-year-old sister Charly are thrilled when a child migrant scheme offers them the chance to escape their miserable past.
But on arrival in Sydney, the girls discover their fantasy future is more nightmare than dream.
Lucy’s lot is near-slavery at Seabreeze Farm where living conditions are inhuman, the flies and heat unbearable and the owner a sadistic bully. What must she do to survive?
Meanwhile Charly, adopted by the nurturing and privileged Ashwood family, gradually senses that her new parents are hiding something. When the truth emerges, the whole family crumbles. Can Charly recover from this bittersweet deception?
Will the sisters, stranded miles apart in a strange country, ever find each other again?
A poignant testament to child migrants who suffered unforgivable evil, The Lost Blackbird explores the power of family bonds and our desire to know who we are.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

54822591. sy475