Title: To A Distant Land
Author: Julianne Jones
Publisher: Ark House Press, 2009
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Summary (from author website)
Wrongly accused and sentenced to seven years transportation, Katie Donovan is not the only one leaving behind everything familiar to travel to a distant land …
On the journey Katie finds friends and a new faith but it is in a distant land that her faith will face its greatest challenge. Will she stand the test?
Samuel McKinnon accepts a position as spiritual advisor on a convict ship, intending to return home once the journey is complete but he soon discovers that God’s plans are contrary to his own. Will he have the courage to step into the unknown and trust God to direct his steps?
Rhiannon Sanford immigrates with her family to Australia after a rift between her grandfather and father forces the family to leave everything behind. Her father’s dream of a new life will require sacrifice and challenge. Will the price be too great?
I discovered To A Distant Land thanks to a friend, who knows the author Julianne Jones. I’m always keen to promote Australian authors so I borrowed a copy of the novel to read and review for Suite101.
I will admit to being a little nervous when I started reading. My friend raved about the book, but I’ve found some Christian fiction a little too cloying and forced in the past, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this novel.
I really enjoyed reading To A Distant Land, which I did quite quickly. For me it falls into a YA genre style, although I think that the veiled references to sexual indiscretions and illegitimate children may have led the publisher to promote it as general fiction. The Christian message is quite strongly presented in the book, but this is done very naturally through the character of the preacher Samuel McKinnon in a way that fits well with the plot.
The central characters of Katie, Samuel and Rhiannon are quite likeable and engaging and I found the historical setting also very interesting. I think for teen readers particularly it offers some general insight into the limited choices available for lower class women in the early 1800s.
The novel is complete, however there is a definite opening to extend the story and I think that there are at least two further books in the planning stages for the series. I’m looking forward to reading more about both the characters and the experience of living in Australia in the 1830s, so I’m hoping that the next book is available sooner rather than later.