17.3.16

Sara Dane by Catherine Gaskin


Sara Dane - Catherine Gaskin
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The Queen Of Storytellers


I recently rediscovered an old friend. I hadn't seen her for over thirty years, but I recognised her instantly. Her name is Sara Dan, and with more than 2 million copies sold, she became the most acclaimed novel of 20, authored by Catherine Gaskin (1929 - 2009). Needless to say, our friendship had stood the test of time, and our meeting again resulted in another reading of this very memorable book.

The novel, Sara Dane is a romance (historical), published in 1954. It is the story about a young convict woman, sentenced to transportation to Port Jackson, in 1792, for nothing more than would be considered a child's prank in modern times. It centres on the hardships she endures in overcoming the stigma of her conviction, before rising to a position of wealth and prominence among the citizens of early New South Wales.

This book appealed to me for several reasons back in the 1980's. It was most likely the very first novel (fiction) I had ever read on British settlement in Australia, and as an Australian, I found it especially interesting. It also appealed to me because Sara Dane is an unforgettable character with a great deal of backbone, unlike many heroines in earlier romance novels.

However, the reason I consider this novel to be an old friend, is quite frankly because the author, Catherine Gaskin, is such a wonderful storyteller. Well-written stories are not easily forgotten, and the memory of them can often remain in both a readers mind, and heart, for many years. It wasn't at all surprising to learn, after reading Sara Dane, that many of Catherine Gaskin's novels became best sellers, and earned her such titles as, 'the girl with the golden pen' and 'the queen of storytellers.'

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Sara Dane by Catherine Gaskin (excerpt):

A wild cacophony of screams and shrieks issued from the dark hold where a maniacal group of women rolled together in a frenzied struggle.

Lieutenant Andrew Maclay could see that one of them, almost hidden beneath the others, was fighting alone. 'Silence!' Andrew roared. The mob slowly quietened. 'Is there a woman here called Sara Dane?' he asked.

The lone fighter struggled to her feet. Slim and straight, the skin of her throat and face was unlined, but the dirt of the stinking hold covered whatever beauty she might have possessed. She wore a hacked and tattered gown many sizes too large; but she wore it with an air of cherished grandeur. She lifted her head proudly.

'I am Sara Dane,' she said.
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~ Jan (Review – 18th Oct, 2012)

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