It was really no choice at all - starve, emigrate or be transported!
Face death by drowning, disease or fire. Steal a loaf of bread and be transported to the same colonies anyway... but in chains.
The thrilling tale of the brutality and cruelty of life of the times... the challenging story of migration to the colonies... and the hope, desire and love that went with them.
This historically based novel chronicles the lives of four extended families, each from dramatically different classes in nineteenth century Victorian society, their incongruent relationships and the start of their tumultuous journey aboard the Harriet to the colony of New South Wales.
In England, the vicious crimes of the Sheathers require an urgent departure as the shadow of the hangman stalks the two brothers. For the Bunch brothers, gold and opportunity call but murder haunts the three young men. Wealth fails to insulate an aristocratic family from death and misadventure with the colonies a place to forget. For a God-fearing woodcutter's family, a new beginning beckons.
With famine gripping the country and more mouths to feed, thousands took any available ship, unprepared for the rigours and agonies to be faced. Strangers to the sea, most had no knowledge of the tempestuous oceans, not that long ago sailed only by intrepid explorers.
Departing from the ancient port of Southampton, there were many changes to the once pretty seaside town as timber wharves replaced the stony beaches. Filth and open sewers discharged into the previously pristine, deep waters of the River Test and a forest of masts from all over the world substituted for the tall trees of yesteryear.
Warehouses, bawdyhouses, brothels, bars and inns provided refuge to spivs, pickpockets, pimps, prostitutes and all manner of crooks to sell their wares or ply their trades. Men were robbed or shanghaied, women raped or kidnapped - there was nothing that could not be bought, begged, stolen or sold along the waterfront.
Ships invariably departed with a human cargo. The wretches for transport to the colonies as convicts were chained in long sad rows, hands secured to hands, legs to legs, shuffling forward to some unheard cadence. Now the human exodus was voluntary but no less sad, leaving their loved ones for the uncertainties of the colonies.
For many, the only differences were the lack of chains and the crack of the cat-o-nine tails.
The first volume of a trilogy - The Emigrants: The Brothers Five - has all the crime, action, suspense and romance tempered with the realism of the true story of the stoicism of the lower classes making up most of the emigrants - and thus the foundation of the colonies.
Nearly half the English-speaking world is directly related to this greatest diaspora in recent history. In reality, we are the result of the new start in life that our forebears sought and for which they suffered. Many of us were spawned from just such an emigrant family.
This could be your story...
About the Author
Extensively travelled, with a close knowledge of much of Europe and Asia, all his stories have a particular affinity with their locales particularly the new crime novels based around Paul Davaine and la Cochinelle featured in the Da Vinci crime thriller - Mona Lisa: The Virgin Mother and the newly released The Curse of the Diamonds. Several other historical crime thrillers are works in progress, notably The Shelfords of Shelford - both set largely in England. A topical novel, All The Cardinal's Men is in reprint and another edition is planned for To Steal A Lady.
The author's website is at www.jjbarrie.com
Many people contribute to a book.
Aspects of the Layton family and the exodus to Australia have been drawn from a contemporaneous diary actually written on the maiden voyage of the Harriet enabling an accurate picture of the trials of the emigrants in their voyage to the colonies. Thanks are due to the Mitchell Library in Sydney and the various family history societies in Lincolnshire and Norfolk in England for their contributions. Each provided a small part to the realism and accuracy of the backgrounds. Special thanks are due to my editors and my Publisher - and to my wife for her inordinate patience and support required to abide a fulltime author.