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Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS - by Ly­dia Syson, Allen & Un­win RM

It’s the late 1800s and Mr Pea­cock, tired of run­ning a ho­tel in Samoa, seizes an op­por­tu­nity to start afresh by mov­ing his New Zealand-born fam­ily to a re­mote, un­in­hab­ited is­land in the Ker­madecs. Here, the au­to­cratic hus­band and fa­ther be­lieves they will cre­ate their own lit­tle king­dom, liv­ing off and trad­ing the abun­dant crops he is as­sured will flour­ish in the sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate. Dropped off on their new home by one of the few ships that ever pass by the rugged, vol­canic is­land, they find the real­ity is very dif­fer­ent. Life is harsh, chal­leng­ing and, with no means of es­cape, all must work hard to en­sure their sur­vival. When help even­tu­ally ar­rives in the form of six young, strong, Kanaka men, sent to the is­land to work for Mr Pea­cock, it seems things will look up, but the dis­ap­pear­ance of one of the Pea­cock chil­dren throws every­one off course and what fol­lows is the re­al­i­sa­tion of more sin­is­ter un­der­cur­rents. The seed for this story was sown when the au­thor learned of the Bell fam­ily, who set­tled on Raoul Is­land in 1878, and of the Niue Is­lan­ders who worked there. Richly de­scrip­tive, her nar­ra­tive is a his­tory les­son, a ge­og­ra­phy les­son, a sur­vival story and, as it reaches its cli­max, dis­turbingly heart-pound­ing.

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