The Dark Mountain, by Catherine Jinks

Mr Barton was being helped from the back of the dray. I could see at once that there was nothing wrong with his legs. It was the upper portion of his body that seemed to pain him. He moved stiffly, with many an involuntary wince and suppressed groan. Having reached the ground, he shook off his attendants as if the touch of their hands was entirely too much to bear.
My mother went to him, still carrying her youngest daughter. For a moment they stood together, and my mother’s hand was on his arm, and his head was bent close to her ear. Something about this attitude bespoke an intimacy that I had not hitherto suspected. Indeed, the contrast between his expression as he spoke to my mother, and his tone as he addressed the hovering servants, was startling.

In 1836 when Charlotte Atkinson’s mother rides out to inspect her property, it sparks a chain of events which dramatically change Charlotte’s idyllic childhood – and that of her siblings. Whilst the events of her mother’s journey are never fully explained, the violence which befalls her mother and her overseer, George Barton on that fateful day alter the family’s course for life.

Soon Barton is a part of the family, becoming Charlotte’s stepfather, and the family descends into financial difficulties, violence and public shame. For the rst of her long life, Charlotte is determined to unlock the sequence of events which led to her mother’s remarriage and the fracturing of the family.

The Dark Mountain is a gripping historical saga set in and around the Belanglo region of southern NSW. With bushrangers, mass murderers, family drama and the everyday difficulties of colonial life, the story is peopled with a vivid cast of characters including Australia’s first female novelist, and earliest serial killer.

Author Catherine Jinks shows her extraordinary versatility with every new offering – this time with a gothic story offering a vivid glimpse at life in colonial Australia.

A compelling read.

The Dark Mountain

The Dark Mountain, by Catherine Jinks
Allen & Unwin, 2008

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