Strands of Gold


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By Helen Spring

Set at the turn of the century against a backcloth which ranges from the stifling conformity of colonial Singapore to the blistering heat of the Australian outback, ‘Strands of Gold’ charts the struggle of Lucy Rowlands to escape from the brutality of a loveless marriage and create a new identity.

Returning to Singapore to discover poverty and decay in her much loved childhood home, Lucy’s deep sense of duty allows her to be persuaded into a marriage which denies her true feelings. A lonely struggle against the cruelty and degradation of her position follows, but Lucy’s decision to escape has a doubly tragic outcome, the accidental death of her father and the shooting of her husband.

Lucy’s struggle is mirrored by another, the efforts of Danny, a small disabled boy, to drag himself from poverty by sheer endurance and application. He plays his own small part in the events surrounding Lucy’s escape, and these have a direct bearing on Danny’s future.

Wanted for the murder of her husband, Lucy’s escape in the sailing ketch ‘Selangor Lady’ is only the beginning of a perilous journey through the Indonesian islands and the treacherous Timor Sea, in search of a new life in Australia. But her new identity, hard won in the harsh climate and remote surroundings, is threatened by discovery when once more she is confronted by a bully, and this time she will not acquiesce.

Once more Lucy is escaping, this time on a journey which combines a quest, to trace the location of a vague map, the one clue to a gold strike made twenty five years before, somewhere in the barren wastes north of Kalgoorlie…

But Lucy finds her true gold in friendship, in the unforgettable stoicism of Matthew, the uncle who gives up everything when she needs him, Jarvis, who gives his life, and Greg, who is transformed from frog prince to gold prospector, and tempts her with peaches…

This is the story of a well bred young English girl flung by circumstance into the privations and hardship of life in Australia in the early 1900’s. Her courage is tested to its limits, and with the help and loyalty the struggle to attain her full potential comes the realisation that this can only be achieved with of friends, the true ‘Strands of Gold’ of the title.

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