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Long Bay Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
‘Tell him we have the upper hand and we could let the whole world know.’
With Chapter One, the novel returns to Rebecca’s childhood and the novel progresses chronologically. At this stage, I am hooked. Who is Rebecca Sinclair? Why is she in prison? And the baby? Slowly, the story unfolds. Rebecca lives with her widowed mother and sisters and they take in piece work in order to exist. Rebecca works hard, and then harder as her sisters leave home and her mother’s failing eyesight renders her incapable of finer needlework. Then, one day, she meets Donald Sinclair. Donald is the only son of Nurse Sinclair, an abortionist with a thriving trade in inner Sydney in the early twentieth century. Rebecca falls for Donald, but slowly becomes aware that he is not to be trusted. Donald likes money, but only the spending rather than the earning of it.
‘In this reflection she sees nothing of the girl with the blue silk, nothing of the young woman who read books and dreamt of finer things.’
Rebecca works with Donald’s mother for a while, but then Rebecca and Donald set up on their own. A woman dies, and Rebecca and Donald are charged with manslaughter. Rebecca’s story ends with her release from gaol.
Some novelizations of true stories do not work, sometimes the facts constrain the story. That wasn’t the case for me in this novel.Read more ›
Born in Paddington, New South Wales in 1885, Rebecca Sinclair was the fourth of six children, raised by her mother who was widowed when Rebecca was two. She married at nineteen, birthed a daughter, and four years later, alongside her husband, was convicted of manslaughter for the death of a mother of three who died after an abortion procedure performed by Rebecca went wrong. Rebecca was sentenced to three years hard labour in Long Bay and while imprisoned, Rebecca birthed her second daughter.
Limprecht builds on these known details of Rebecca's life with her imagination, informed by research, creating a story that depicts a childhood of poverty, a marriage marred by bigamy and violence and the events that led up to the tragic event that resulted in her being jailed. Long Bay illustrates an era where women had limited control over their lives and often struggled under the weight of deprivation and hardship.
There is no doubt that Rebecca's story is fascinating and I was intrigued by the details of her life, but the writing is often quite dry and unsentimental, lacking the emotion that could have breathed more vitality into the narrative. Yet the story is rich in period detail, evoking the city landscape and era well.
A thoughtful and readable novel, I did enjoy Long Bay. I feel it is a story that will interest readers of both historical fiction and non fiction, especially those curious about women's lives and issues at the turn of the century.
An enjoyable read as the characters felt authentic. Life is confusing in the 21st century, and certainly was in the 1800s.