John Leary boards ship in Ireland in 1850, a young carpenter ambitious for a new life in Australia. He sails with revenge in his heart—his beloved sister has been raped by her landlord, William Baxterhouse, who escapes on another ship with even grander plans for success in New South Wales. In Sydney, hard workers like Leary and ruthless newcomers like Baxterhouse find a city fired by the Gold Rush and dedicated to creating the finest buildings in the colony. Leary has a double motive to make his construction company succeed: he has fallen in love with the beautiful Clarissa McGuire, whose family despise him, and Baxterhouse continues to rise in wealth and influence, seemingly untouchable. Meanwhile another woman, Beth O’Hare, is in love with John Leary, and he makes some hard choices—including a climactic showdown with Baxterhouse.
This is the first novel in The Sandstone Trilogy: a new, magnificent view of nineteenth-century Sydney from the ground up.Three novels, Unbound Justice, Unshackled and Succession, span 37 years of Sydney life in the second half of the nineteenth century. They follow the fortunes of 20-year-old John Leary, who in 1850 leaves his rural home in Ireland and sails as an assisted immigrant to New South Wales.
His trade is carpentry but his ambition is boundless. By hard work, talent and opportunism he manages to create his own construction company, never ceasing the struggle to become the biggest and the best. The building industry becomes a metaphor for his chosen city, with its mixture of squalor and grandeur, of corruption and high ideals.
The Sandstone Trilogy is a historical drama with a rich cast of compelling characters. It is also a family saga, in which love, revenge and tragedy all come to influence the Learys’ destiny.
‘Well-written and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s a love story with a vivid background of those early days of European settlement—and all the drinking, hard work, treachery and jostling for position that was mandatory in those times. You warm to the characters as they make their way in this new land. More of it!’
Australian Provincial Newspapers