Wild Latitudes by Barbara Else

If you like a touch (or two) of melodrama with a hint of parody in your historical fiction reading, this may be a novel you’ll enjoy.  Just be careful how seriously you take it 🙂

Wild Latitudes by Barbara Else

‘Sorrow,’ I said.  ‘My name is Sorrow.’

Read carefully, Gentle Reader, as this is a tale of loss, of love, and perhaps even of redemption.  Pay attention, Gentle Reader, as nuances can be easily missed or – worse – misunderstood.  Don’t be distracted by the number of characters, or improbable happenings.  Everything happens for a reason.

Alas, spare a thought for poor Adele Overend, aged 18, and her younger brother Godwin.  Their papa has died in peculiar circumstances, and they are to be sent (separately) from their home at Autumn Hall in Yorkshire to Dunedin in New Zealand.  The year is 1864, and there’s a gold rush on.

Adele is dispatched first, on the ‘Yorkshire Witch’.  But somehow, she ends up on a seemingly deserted shore.  What has happened?  And how will she find her way to New Zealand?  Fortunately, Gentle Reader, Adele is nothing if not resourceful.  Just ask the sealers she encounters.

‘The mind is a most unusual country.’

Keep reading to find out how Adele makes her way to New Zealand.  Spare a thought, too, for poor Godwin.  He is an unusually pretty boy and, when he arrives in New Zealand and cannot immediately find Adele, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place.

Fortunately, all is not lost.  Although, given the extensive list of villains and opportunists encountered, it is miraculous that both Adele and Godwin survive.  But don’t take my word for it, read Ms Else’s novel.  It’s an engaging blend of gothic melodrama, with more than a hint of comedy. And what more could you want in a story, including: evil doctors, an asylum with some interesting (and enterprising) inmates, a brothel, peculiar religious cults and a most remarkable baby.

‘It is widely acknowledged that a wealthy young widow with an adopted son needs a trusted and reliable business manager.’

It took me a little while to get into this novel: I usually like my melodrama in smaller doses.  But once I stopped looking for believability and just went with the flow of the story, I was mightily amused.

Note: My thanks to Endeavour Press for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.


Jennifer Cameron-Smith