Elianne was built with the sweat and blood of "Kanakas".
In 1881 "Big Jim" Durham, an English soldier of fortune and profiteer, ruthlessly creates for Elianne Desmarais, his young French wife, the finest of the great sugar mills of the Southern Queensland cane fields, and names it in her honour.
The massive estate becomes a self-sufficient fortress, a cane-consuming monster and home to hundreds of workers, but "Elianne" and its masters, the Durham family, have dark and distant secrets - secrets that surface in the wildest and most inflammatory of times, the 1960's.....
For Kate Durham and her brothers, Neil and Alan, freedom is the catchword of the decade. Young Australians leap to the barricades of the social revolution. Rock 'n' Roll, the pill, the Vietnam War, the rise of feminism, Asian immigration and the Freedom Ride join forces to rattle the chains of traditional values.
The workers leave the great sugar estates as mechanisation lessons the need for labour - and the Durham family, its secrets exposed, begins its fall from grace....
My Short review
I apologize in advance about the very little detail given, I read this book over a week ago and all the thoughts I had of it are starting to disappear!
My aunty recommended this book to me.
Now I'm not a fan of this kind of genre in books, but I must admit, this book was awesome! I finished it in just a day! It was so easy to read and to keep flicking the pages. Well sure every now and then it felt like it dragged but I truly enjoyed this.
It's the 60's in Australia. At this time there was state rivalry and a whole lot of discrimination against races with darker skin. It was all about a family Cane farm and their personal history with "Kanakas" and the story of how their family history is a lie.
The main character (Kate) finds her grandmothers (Elianne aka Ellie) "scribblings" (pretty much her diary) written in French. Of course Kate is fluent in French and translate them all. What she finds changes everything she ever thought about her "amazing, respectable" family and their image.
It's a sad, exciting and amazingly written novel. I highly recommend it to anyone, even those who don't read this genre of book!