The Settling Earth

The Settling Earth

by Rebecca Burns


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The Settling Earth by Rebecca Burns

Marriage transplants Sarah thousands of miles from home; a failed love affair forces Phoebe to make drastic choices in a new environment; a sudden, shocking discovery brings Mrs Ellis to reconsider her life as an emigrant-The Settling Earth is a collection of ten, interlinked stories, focusing on the British settler experience in colonial New Zealand, and the settlers' attempts to make sense of life in a strange new land.

Sacrifices, conflict, a growing love for the landscape, a recognition of the succour offered by New Zealand to Maori and settler communities-these are themes explored in the book.The final story in the collection, written by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781922200167
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Publication date: 12/07/2014
Pages: 128
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.30(d)

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The Settling Earth 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Mark ODwyer More than 1 year ago
They voyaged from Britain to the ends of the earth, “the antipodes”, expecting better chances and new lives. But the settlers brought with them the same stultifying conventions and social constraints. Isolated on bleak farms or in soul-destroying boarding houses, the women in these stories are at the mercy of men’s whims and always one slip away from total poverty. They must reach deep down through their instincts to do what it takes to survive – or else succumb. Though each story is complete, they are linked by events or characters, so that the stories towards the end satisfyingly close the circle of themes. The last story, by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds the Maori viewpoint of these arrivals. I enjoyed Rebecca Burns previous collection, “Catching the Barramundi” and found “The Settling Earth” to be an intriguing and sometimes heartbreaking look at the personal hardships of settling New Zealand (
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite If you are looking for a book with variety, consider getting a copy of The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns with guest writer Shelly Davies. In this book you will be able to enjoy stories from love lost and longing to death. The collection of stories, from The Pickled Eggs to Dottie to Balance, will entice you to want more. Dottie, written by Rebecca, puts me in mind of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Mrs. Gray, a widow, felt that it was her duty to take in unwanted children. For years many would flock to her door to leave their infants and children because they were unable to care for them. It appeared that Mrs. Gray was well off, but no one knew what it meant. It was only assumed that, in her care, their children would be well taken care of. What no one knew was that behind those closed doors was death. I truly loved reading the stories in The Settling Earth. This is my second review for this author and each time I am pleased with the stories chosen for her collection. I found her debut collection, Catching the Barramundi, a great find. Shelly Davies' story, Balance, was interesting because she introduced her culture from the Ngatiwai tribe and the familiarity with indigenous stories to tell her tale. In Balance, Haimona was not comfortable with how Hans was treating everyone he encountered, but one day Haimona decided to create balance to make things easier for everyone, especially Laura, Hans’ stepdaughter. These are two of my favorites. Happy reading.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
People don’t change just because they cross an ocean, and the people of Rebecca Burns’ The Settling Earth are as recognizable as any citizens of a busy town today. There are women of ill repute, struggling to get by. There are men who prey on them. There are people with hopes and plans, and people in despair. And there are children, lost to their parents, passed into a world of darkness. This is Christchurch, New Zealand, as seen through the eyes of its 18th century inhabitants, and the author recreates it beautifully in a gorgeous collection of interlinking short stories. Like Christophe McFarland’s The Chester Chronicles, Elizabeth’s Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, or D. A. MacQuin’s Polite Conversation About the Weather, this is a novel that evokes time, place and character through well-crafted tales, changing points of view clearly delineated, and intertwining connections offering readers the pleasant anticipation and surprise of discovery. Some of these tales and discoveries can be dark and haunting. Others offer more hope. But together the whole collection sheds a convincing and convicting light on mankind’s relationships and cruelties. With haunting prose, harsh details of history come to life, and the women of immigration find their voice and strength. Appropriately, this happens in a land where, as the final tale (by guest writer Shelly Davies) shows, “even thought it was the men who were out ithe front in the war parties, politicking and making speeches, women were a powerful influence. A force to be reckoned with.” Author Rebecca Burns may also be a force to be reckoned with, and this short novel deserves to be a classic. Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.
TracyMJoyce More than 1 year ago
"The Settling Earth" is a collection of beautifully written, poignant, skillfully interwoven short stories which detail aspects of the daily lives of colonial New Zealand. The last story is written by Shelly Davies of the Ng¿tiwai tribe, adds a Maori perspective to the experience of British settlement in their land.  I loved all the stories in this book and Davies' story rounded the collection off beautifully.  As I read, I was reminded of Barbara Baynton's writing which I also love. "The Settling Earth" is absolutely worth the read.
Nikki_Mansfield More than 1 year ago
A lyrical, poignant collection of interrelated stories of pioneer life in New Zealand. Each tells it's own finite story but combined they present a dark, lonely tale of a community of people living within reach of Christchurch, the nearest town. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. 1. A Pickled Egg (2008) - A woman ponders upon how she came to be in this new country so unlike the old as she occasionally pats her stomach. Nothing happens but sets a lovely scene and a good beginning to the collection. (3/5) 2. Mr. William Sanderson Strikes for Home (2009) - A man is walking home from visiting a brothel and has been provoked into bringing a Maori with him. Mr. Sandrson's thoughts are quite vehemently racist against the native as they walk towards his home and things turn nasty when the Maori dares to mention from whence they met. Near the end, we are given the hint that this man is the husband of the woman from the first story. Well-written and infused with a heavy atmosphere. I'm intrigued. (4/5) 3. Miss Swainson's Girl (2009)- Back to the boardinghouse and to a girl briefly mentioned in the previous story. Her story of how she came to be here is told in all its tragedy and her current life takes a turn for the worse. Intense and emotional. (5/5) 4. Dottie - A very slight mention in the previous story brings us to this home. A baby farm. A terrible, dark story of fallen women, societal conventions, the inability of man to forgive sins and finally saving grace. Haunting. (5/5) 5. Port and Oranges - Very interesting! We are back to the boarding house and a character study of the madam, Miss Swainson, of her background and how she came to be here in New Zealand and in this position. At this point two new characters emerge and there is the promise of the beginning of a story yet to tell, but at the same time, if it is not revisited one can make an assumption as to how this thread would have proceeded. (5/5) At this point, I find myself very taken with the stories. Each seems to be a character study of a different person. There are small connections between some of the people, thus pulling the stories together in a cohesive unit. Onward! 6. Tenderness - We have to go back to story 4 to recall the character focused on in this story. We know nothing about her and this character study focuses on her pov, emotions and state of mind. In the end, it manages to tell us a bit more of what happened after story four but overall, I felt no connection to this character and the story was a bit of a drudge.(2/5) 7. Dressed for the funeral - This is the longest story so far, but a very quick read. We meet a new character, Phillipa (Pip) and for the first half of the story the entire events of a funeral and Pip's reminiscences are completely fresh to this collection. Then half-way through Pip overhears a group of women talking about the discovery of the baby farm in story 4. Here the story takes an anxious turn and the plight of women wanting a career during this era is explored. Emotional and compelling. (5/5) 8. Ink and Red Lace - A disturbing and dark story with no connection to the others except for the barest hint of the red lace. Set out on a ranch the atmosphere matches the tone. Excellent. My favorite in the collection so far! (5/5) 9. The Beast - This takes the husband from the last story back to his childhood and we learn the reason for some of his ways. It also has some mythical elements. OK (3/5) 10. Balance by Shelly Davies - This final story is written by a different author to give the Maori point of view and nicely brings the book full circle. We hearken back to story 2 and Mr. Sanderson and the Maori man, Haimona, arrive at the Sanderson's. Hans from the last story is here as well. As things play out Haimona's thoughts tell us what he thinks of these white people, how he interprets their proprieties and actions that are purely show and yet at the same time he wants the luxury they live in. Answers some questions left hanging in the other stories and wraps the collection up on a fine note. (4/5)