Absolutely riveting! I couldn't put it down. Ruth Bonetti's lyrical style evokes the saga feeling, bringing the characters to life using a clever technique of magical realism. Her 'conversations' with them are utterly stunning. Sandy McCutcheon Novelist This unique book builds a bridge between Finland and Australia, bringing migrants' struggles to life in poetic, descriptive words. Dr. Elli Heikkila, Director of Research Migration Institute of Finland An excellent history of a Finnish family's migration to Australia-and contribution as literature. Dr. Olavi Koivukangas AM Professor andFounding Director, Migration Institute of Finland Preface When Ruth Bonetti first described her heritage to me, a journey I share, I was convinced this book must be written. She has shown me drafts during its progression that prove this true.As an author used to reading manuscripts, I was bowled along by this evolving tale. Ruth Bonetti's lyrical style evokes the feeling of a saga. She captures the voice of the Finnish emigrants, drawing on fascinating letters to bring the characters to life with magical realism. Her 'conversations' with the characters are utterly enchanting and an absolute joy. This intriguing story, the historic letters and descriptions of her own journeys to Finland show Ruth's rapport with Finnish ethos, enterprise and a finely tuned sense of its culture. There is much written about migration to America but almost nothing about that to Australia. Ruth Bonetti's book fills a gap. Those who seek their roots will identify with her sense of heritage, passed from generation to generation, even at the opposite ends of the world. Sandy McCutcheon Novelist Awarded Kalevalan 150 -Vuotismitali Helsingissa Kalevalan Paivana 1985"
At the end of the 19th century Finland is a dark and repressive place. Pacifist and political dissenter Karl Johan Back is conscripted to fight for the Russian despots that occupy his country. In 1899 he flees to an untamed land on the far side of the world. Finding refuge on ridges overlooking the Byron Bay lighthouse in northern New South Wales, he grows orchids and lush tropical fruit.
Intrigued by her ‘black sheep’ great-uncle, Ruth Bonetti pieces together the motives that propelled his flight. Finnish relatives share a treasure-trove of letters that provide answers to the many questions raised by Karl Johan’s quest for freedom.
Why did Russian military police pursue him as far as Suez? Why did he publish under a pen-name? And, most intriguing of all, why did he implore his family to burn his letters?