1800s, books

In the Land of the Long White Cloud a Very Long Soap Opera

In the Land of the Long White Cloud by Sarah Lark is the story of two women who make their way from London to New Zealand in the 1850s to find husbands. Both marry unhappily, the whole story is one long, big (700 pages) sorry mess.

Sorry to the author, but that’s how I felt after I finished the book. It was written in German, and if I could read it in its original form, perhaps I would have a different opinion, but I suspect not. It’s the first book of a trilogy, and I doubt I will be reading books two and three.

Helen and Gwyneira are both the wives of sheep farmers. Gwyn’s husband’s father is a sheep baron and Helen’s husband is always on the verge of going bankrupt. It turns out the two men are enemies over a lost love. Both women have children, but that isn’t a happy story either. Gwyneira’s husband is gay and he can’t make love to her, so she goes to a farmhand to ask him to father her child. He complies of course, and they conceive a daughter. But Gwyneira decides the relationship should end as soon as the child is conceived. In my opinion, this whole idea is ill-conceived.

Perhaps that’s a spoiler. You have to read about twenty-five percent of the book before the women even meet their husbands. It’s very drawn out, and takes a good bit stamina to finish the book.

Everything is very dramatized, and very predictable, like a soap opera. At one point Gwyniera is raped by her father-in-law, and of course becomes pregnant.

Her husband, Lucas, runs aways from the sheep farm and meets the love of his life, but dies before their love is consummated.

After reading some reviews of The Land of the Long White Cloud by people from New Zealand, I discovered there are a lot of factual mistakes, especially about the Maori culture. The servants are all Maori, and Gwyneira’s son grows up to have a Maori wife.

Of course, Helen’s son and Gwyn’s daughter grow up to fall in love, but their fathers’ enmity creates huge stumbling blocks to their relationship.

After Lucas dies, Gwyneira is free to love again, but nothing happens until she reunites the father of her daughter. But there are a little of roadblocks there, too, so it’s a long way to happiness.

I wish I could recommend this book. I did manage to finish it, which is more than I can say of other books. It did get some good reviews on Amazon. But it’s too much like a very sappy historical romance, and not my cup of tea.


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