Spirits of the Ghan
Master storyteller Judy Nunn has now sold over 1 million books worldwide. In her spellbinding new bestseller she takes us on a breathtaking journey deep into the red heart of Australia.
It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End.
But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land.
Hired as a negotiator, Jessica Manning must walk a delicate line to reassure the Elders their sacred sites will be protected. Will her innate understanding of the spiritual landscape, rooted in her own Arunta heritage, win their trust? It’s not easy to keep the peace when Matthew Witherton and his survey team are quite literally blasting a rail corridor through the timeless land of the Never-Never.
When the paths of Jessica and Matthew finally cross, their respective cultures collide to reveal a mystery that demands attention. As they struggle against time to solve the puzzle, an ancient wrong is awakened and calls hauntingly across the vastness of the outback . . .
Australia has some great female authors and Judy Nunn is at the top of her field. Judy Nunn has a huge following and it is not difficult to understand why; her style of combining histories and the personal story are very affective. The narratives here share fictionalised historical based events of Australia’s colonial history and a fictionalised personal story of a child of The Stolen Generation (Rose’s story). The echoes of these stories impact and effect the contemporary narrative and the lives of the characters building the renowned remote railway track known as The Ghan Railway.
I enjoyed this style of writing, the histories, the settings, the characters. And even more I loved the spiritual element that plays a significant part in this narrative. I think this novel will play an important part in reintroducing the topic of the Stolen Generation to many readers. Judy Nunn introduces this emotional subject in her novel by the way of a very personal history; Rose’s experiences demonstrates the consequences of this policy. You cannot help but empathise with the plight of the individual and the generation affected. Kudos to Judy Nunn for tackling such a difficult issue and highlighting the damage that this policy continues to affect.
A combination of history, the personal, the outback and the mystical combine to make this an enjoyable and thought provoking read.