A beautiful exploration of love, perseverance, and the power of community and kinship…
In the moving latest from Young, the life of a young heiress is upended after she’s falsely accused of theft and sent to Fremantle Gaol in colonial Australia. Bethany Stillwater is finding it hard to deal with her step-brother Howard Stillwater after her father’s death. A compulsive gambler, Howard wants to take control of Bethany’s estate. Unable to do that, he conspires to have her convicted for jewelry theft. Sentenced to seven years in prison, Bethany soon finds herself sailing on a convict ship to Fremantle Gaol in colonial Australia. When Sam, the second son of the Duke of Yardley, spots Bethany, he becomes intrigued and begins to look into her conviction charges. Meanwhile, Howard realizes he can get his hands on the estate only if Bethany is no longer alive. Will Sam be able to save Bethany in time? Young vividly portrays the descriptions of the atrocities the women inmates suffer in the prison on a daily basis (a fourteen-year-old girl, who was in prison for stealing some bread to feed her brother, becomes the victim of rape while onboard and later dies in the prison after miscarrying the fetus), and the constant indignities they are subjected to: the inmates are not allowed proper burial; they are chained to each other while moved within the premises of the prison. Amid the grim realities of their difficult lives, Young constructs poignant emotional scenes: the despair the women inmates feel, as well as their resilience, is palpable, but it is their love for each other that resonates. By tracing Bethany and other inmates’ interpersonal dynamic, Young highlights the power of friendship and human connection among these women who find a way to be vulnerable and hopeful in a world that too often treats them unfairly. At the same time, Young does a good job of evoking the period and balancing her characters’ ongoing struggles with their inner turmoil. Readers will fall in love with the courageous, unassuming Bethany, who despite her difficult circumstances, continues to show incredible courage. Young’s choice to highlight the questions of faith with gender, class, and racial bias of the era adds a note of poignancy to Bethany’s story. Sam is equally compelling. The secondary characters, especially Nick and Sally, are fully fleshed-out and authentic. The thrilling plot culminates in surprising revelations and heartfelt ending. This examination of human courage and resilience is not to be missed.
A Journey to Joy
Nancy I. Young
Pub date January 13, 2023
Price $22.99 (USD) Hardcover, $13.99 Paperback, $2.99 Kindle