Unbound Justice by Michael Beashel (The Sandstone Trilogy #1)

‘My future is out there and I’m going to make it.’

1850, Ireland.  John Leary is a young carpenter bound for New South Wales, with the help of an assisted passage.  He’s told that his skills are very much in demand in the colony, and he’s ambitious to make a new life for himself. On his way, he spends the night in Dublin and finds that his beloved sister has been seriously assaulted by her landlord, William Baxterhouse. John has no time to hunt Baxterhouse down: his ship sails in less than 24 hours.  William Baxterhouse also sets sail for New South Wales on a different ship. John Leary wants to succeed in New South Wales, but when he discovers Baxterhouse is also in Sydney, he wants revenge.

John meets Clarissa McGuire on the voyage to Sydney and falls in love with her.  Her family has money, position and property and initially opposes any possibility of a relationship.  But John, through hard work and good luck, manages to establish himself as a builder.

This novel is the first in a trilogy, and as soon as I finished it, I moved onto the second book.

I confess that I didn’t much care for John Leary and some of his actions, but I was fascinated by the bustling Sydney depicted in Mr Beashel’s novel.  I’ve finished the trilogy now and will write reviews of the other two books shortly.  Is it worth reading?  Yes, but initially (at least) more for the setting than the characters. And yet, now that I’ve finished, several the characters have stayed with me.  If you are interested in the building of Sydney, of its development and expansion during the nineteenth century, you may enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith