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Long Bay Kindle Edition
It’s Sydney, 1909. A woman dies when Rebecca Sinclair performs an abortion. The verdict sends Rebecca to the Long Bay Women’s Penitentiary—just opened—for three years. Complicating the situation still further—Rebecca herself is pregnant.
Inspired by letters found in an archive and a photograph of a young woman prisoner, Long Bay is a compelling, moving novel that reveals the harsh realities of living in poverty—and falling in love.
‘Long Bay is that rare thing: a historical novel untainted by sentimentality, with a story not only fascinating in the context of its time, but made relevant to our modern world.’ — Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
First published in 2015, it went out of print with the closure of its original publisher, Sleepers Publishing.
Eleanor Limprecht is an essayist, short story writer, reviewer and novelist. She is the author of What Was Left (2013), also in the Untapped Collection; Long Bay (2015) and The Passengers (2018). Her new novel, The Coast, will be published in 2022. For more information visit www.eleanorlimprecht.com
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About the Author
- ASIN : B09N115MDB
- Publisher : Ligature (3 December 2021)
- Language : English
- File size : 2750 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 287 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 167,671 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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‘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. I thought that Ms Limprecht imagined Rebecca’s life and challenges well. From the hardship faced by her mother, widowed with six children, to the role played by those willing to undertake abortions and the risks faced by those who underwent them, the story rang true for me. Perhaps Rebecca should have made different choices, certainly she seemed naïve and gullible at times. But what other options did she have? Leaving Donald had its own challenges.
‘The body, as we age, is like a map, she thinks – a map to read with my hands.’
I enjoyed this novel: it challenged me and made me think about some of the challenges of life for the poor, specifically for poor women, early last century.
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.