Aroatoare – “The Land of the Long White Cloud”, this is the name the early Polynesian seafarers gave New Zealand when they first colonised the two islands around 800 AD. In the popular imagination of North Americans, New Zealanders and Australians are grouped together. Although their accents are similar they are different people with different histories. Modern Australia came about as a collection of penal settlements. Habituated by convicts, felons, political prisoners and their jailers who the British government dumped in a harsh forbidding land that became Australia. They were surrounded by almost inconceivable expanses of bush and lived cheek by jowl with an aboriginal population that was beyond a white man’s comprehension. The life was hard, harsh and that shaped a rather flinty race of inhabitants. New Zealand, on the other hand was never host to penal settlements of any kind. The Polynesians were there long before the white man and were basically a free people with a highly developed culture. They literally owned the land and did not take kindly to attempts to being dispossessed and to prove a point they went to war with the whites to assert their rights. The early white settlers were free people untainted by any convict blood. Modern day New Zealanders do not hesitate to point that out. The Maori can often trace his ancestry back to the immigrants of the canoe that brought them across the sea from “Hawaii”. The historical literature of Australia is about convicts, jailers and bush rangers and the struggle to survive. New Zealand’s stories are about fairly peaceful settlement, and apart from the Maori wars at one stage, and peaceful interactions between whites and Maoris. I think I can safely say the New Zealand must be one of the few places colonized by white men where the indigenous population has actually changed the white man.
The German author Sarah Lark explores the early New Zealand experiences in a series of “landscape novels” that have made her a best selling author in her native Germany. Fortunately the novels have been translated into English and are available from Amazon.ca on Kindle. The concept of New Zealand historical novels written by a German author would seem unlikely and yet, in execution, the three novels in the trilogy work well. They are historical romance novels that could be disparagingly described as “chicklit” but that would be too unkind. They have a lot more strength and depth than a typical “harlequin” paperback. Having traveled and lived in New Zealand, the novels have a geographical and cultural authenticity that takes me back to the time I spent there many years ago. For an excellent read I recommend all three novels. Below is the synopsis of the three novels available from Amazon.ca.
In the Land of the Long White Cloud (In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga Book 1)
Helen Davenport, governess for a wealthy London household, longs for a family of her own—but nearing her late twenties, she knows her prospects are dim. Then she spots an advertisement seeking young women to marry New Zealand’s honorable bachelors and begins an affectionate correspondence with a gentleman farmer. When her church offers to pay her travels under an unusual arrangement, she jumps at the opportunity.
Meanwhile, not far away in Wales, beautiful and daring Gwyneira Silkham, daughter of a wealthy sheep breeder, is bored with high society. But when a mysterious New Zealand baron deals her father an unlucky blackjack hand, Gwyn’s hand in marriage is suddenly on the table. Her family is outraged, but Gwyn is thrilled to escape the life laid out for her.
The two women meet on the ship to Christchurch—Helen traveling in steerage, Gwyn first class—and become unlikely friends. When their new husbands turn out to be very different than expected, the women must help one another find the life—and love—they’d hoped for.
Set against the backdrop of colonial nineteenth-century New Zealand, In the Land of the Long White Cloud is a soaring saga of friendship, romance, and unforgettable adventure.
Song of the Spirits (In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga Book 2)
This is volume 2 in the internationally bestselling In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga. Song of the Spirits continues the soaring saga begun with In the Land of the Long White Cloud, as the founding families of colonial New Zealand experience trials and triumphs of friendship, romance, and unforgettable adventure.
Elaine O’Keefe is the radiant grand-daughter of Gwyneira McKenzie, who made her way to New Zealand to take a wealthy sheep baron’s hand in marriage in In the Land of the Long White Cloud. Elaine inherited not only her grandmother’s red hair but also her feisty spirit, big heart, and love of the land. When William Martyn, a handsome young Irishman of questionable integrity, walks into her life, she succumbs rapidly to his charms. Only to have her heart broken when her sensual half-Maori cousin Kura Warden arrives for a visit and draws William away.
Though both young women must endure hardships and disappointments as they learn to live with the choices they make, each of them also discovers an inner resilience—and eventually finds love and happiness in new, unexpected places. Tested by the harsh realities of colonial life, both girls mature into spirited young women with a greater understanding of the challenges—and joys—of love, friendship, and family.
Call of the Kiwi (In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga Book 3)
In the exhilarating conclusion to the internationally bestselling In the Land of the Long White Cloud trilogy, the spirited Warden and McKenzie clan continues its trials—and triumphs—in New Zealand and beyond.
The great-granddaughter of Gwyneira McKenzie—who arrived in New Zealand as a naïve young bride in In the Land of the Long White Cloud—Gloria Martyn has enjoyed an idyllic childhood at Kiward Station, her family’s sprawling sheep farm in the Canterbury Plains. When her parents send word from Europe that it’s time for Gloria to become a proper “lady” by attending boarding school half a world away in England, Gloria must leave everything and everyone she loves most in the world, including her steadfast protector Jack McKenzie. Wrenched from her beloved homeland and struggling to fit in with the stifling strictures of British boarding-school life, Gloria has never felt more alone. Upon discovering that her parents have no intention of ever sending her home, Gloria takes matters into her own hands and sets off on an adventure that will change her forever.
A stirring coming-of-age tale of love, loss, endurance, shame, and redemption that takes readers from the lush plains of New Zealand’s South Island to the bloody shores of Gallipoli, across Australia’s Northern Territory and beyond, Call of the Kiwi is a profoundly satisfying conclusion to the saga that has captured readers’ hearts across the globe.