Another side to humanity’s story: In a Great Southern Land author Mary-Anne O’Connor on the importance on women in historical fiction

Another side to humanity’s story: In a Great Southern Land author Mary-Anne O’Connor on the importance on women in historical fiction

About the author

Mary-Anne O’Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialities in environment, music and literature. She works in marketing and co-wrote/edited A Brush with Light and Secrets of the Brush with Kevin Best.

Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. This is her fourth major novel. Her previous novels, Gallipoli Street (2015), Worth Fighting For (2016) and War Flower (2017), have all been bestsellers.

Purchase a copy of In a Great Southern Land here // Read our review of In a Great Southern Land here

Words // Mary-Anne O’Connor

The Eureka Stockade is considered by most to be a story about men rising up against an oppressive and tyrannical government; a turning point in Australia’s history. It has long been overlooked, however, that this piece of history also contains a ‘herstory’ component, and like so much of our history, the female experience was intertwined with and directly affected by the male.

So, when I came to write my most recent historical saga In a Great Southern Land on this pivotal and fascinating chapter of Australia’s cultural evolution, I decided to make one of my central characters a victim, if not a direct part of, the Eureka Stockade… for what of the women who loved these men? Did they agree with the stand they were making? Did they realise the enormity of the moment? What power, indeed, did they have to change things, regardless of how they felt?

My character Eve Richards faces many of the harshest of life’s battles during these turbulent times, finding herself seduced by the master of the grand house in England where she works ‘under stairs’ and left destitute on the streets, only to end up in chains and exiled to faraway Australia. Fortune seems to smile on her when the handsome and charming Irishman – and new arrival himself – Kieran Clancy comes to her aid but, ultimately, he forces her to face the harshest moment of all: whether or not his Irish rebel heart will choose a fight for freedom over a lifetime of love with her.

The role of women in history has been written by those who wielded the pen and, when it came to times of warfare or political conflict, it was largely men who recorded what unfolded. But a women’s perspective can shed light on a whole other side to humanity’s story and I truly believe that in fiction we can explore the other side of the tale, open to every sense. Alive to every experience. In tune with every emotion that flowed through their hearts.

Herstory brings the whole tale back to life.

Keen to read more books about women in history?

WIN prizes valued at over $1000 with Herstory: Books that write Her back into History at harpercollins.com.au/herstory.

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                      Synopsis

                      From the soft green hills of Ireland to the wild Shipwreck Coast of southern Victoria, the rich farm lands of New South Wales to the sudden battlefields of Ballarat, this is an epic story of the cost of freedom and the value of love in a far-flung corner of the world where a new nation struggles to be born.1851: After the death of her father, young Eve Richards is destitute. Her struggle to survive sees her deported in chains to the colony of New South Wales, penniless and alone. But here in this strange new world fortune smiles on the spirited, clever Eve in the shape of a respectable job offer that will lead to a quiet, secure life. Then the fiery and charismatic Irishman Kieran Clancy crosses her path...For Kieran Clancy, the kindest man on earth, and his brother Liam, the promise of free passage and land in this brave new world is a chance to leave the grief and starvation of County Clare behind. But while Liam works to farm their land, Kieran has the fire of gold-fever upon him and is drawn to the goldfields of Ballarat. As tensions grow on the goldfields, and with the blood of an Irish rebel still beating through his heart, Kieran finds himself caught up in the cataclysmic events at the Eureka Stockade and faces the decision of a lifetime: whether or not, when it comes to love, blood will remain thicker than water...
                      Mary-Anne O'Connor
                      About the author

                      Mary-Anne O'Connor

                      Bestselling author Mary-Anne O'Connor has a combined arts education degree with specialties in environment, music and literature. After a successful marketing career she now focuses on writing fiction and non-fiction as well as public speaking.Mary-Anne lives in a house overlooking her beloved bushland in northern Sydney with her husband Anthony, their two sons Jimmy and Jack, and their very spoilt dog Saxon. Her previous novels are Gallipoli Street (2015), Worth Fighting For (2016), War Flower (2017) and In a Great Southern Land (2019).

                      Books by Mary-Anne O'Connor

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