Barbara Wood uses meticulous research and elegant writing to create novels with believable characters and realistic settings that transport the reader to exotic countries and far off times. The Dreaming takes us to Australia in the Victorian Era, when Darwin is an upstart scientist and Jules Verne is writing his inspiring novels.
Young Joanna Drury of colonial India has lost both parents within days of each other and has made a promise to her mother to go to Australia in search of answers to the woman’s missing history. On her own and with only a tattered and water-stained deed to guide her, Joanna arrives in Australia looking for an obscure piece of land on a continent that has not yet been completely mapped. She carries with her a few belongings and a haunting set of dreams.
Joanna’s character is one you hope will prevail through a strong sense of sheer will, but I found that it was more the idea of keeping a promise that kept her going despite tremendous obstacles thrown up in her path. She might have given up on her pursuit of finding out her mother’s past if not for the pleading of her dying mother and the pressure of the confusing nightly images.
Each character introduced in this novel is written with purpose, whether it is to further Joanna’s goal, to define the history of Austalia’s native people and its colonists, or to block the young woman from finding the truth. The author’s rendering of character and setting exhibits extensive time and energy to get the details precise. Having recently completed a course on Australian literature, I was not disappointed by the interweaving of Aboriginal beliefs with the invasion of the white man into their lands creating a subtext of cultural destruction.
Sharyn Doolan offers her voice to this audiobook and adds to the enjoyment of the novel with her talented voice.
5 Stars – Elegantly writing and well-researched, a novel that takes you back in time.