On the goldfields of 19th-century Australia, two very different girls are trying to escape their past.
Little Cat is an 18-year-old living in the Pearl River Delta in 1856 China. She is a strong, fierce character, a girl who does not fit the mould of the girl her family expects her to be. She fights with her brothers, rolls her pants above her knees, has no interest in getting married. But then something terrible happens when she is called before the town leader, and she needs to escape – quickly! With the help of her twin brother, she cuts her hair, dons the blue trousers of a Chinese workman, and sets sail to Australia where she can find her fortune in gold-strewn rivers.
Violet Hastings is an extremely feminine governess, fleeing a scandal ridden past in London. Australia is the perfect place to hide – for a time. But when scandal and misfortune follow Violet, she has nowhere to go, no family to help her. So, she makes the decision to join a group of Chinese goldminers as they journey from the coast to the goldfields. This decision definitely doesn’t have anything to do with Mr Lewis Thomas, the rugged drover guiding the convoy.
What Little Cat doesn’t realise is that she has been followed to Australia, by someone she once counted as a friend but now has more sinister motives. And when Violet, and subsequently Mr. Thomas, learns of Little Cat’s secret identity, Little Cat is worried the entire ruse will come crashing down. Not only will her secret be revealed, but her very life will be in danger. And Violet is worried that Mr. Thomas’ eyes have been turned by Little Cat! Will these two women whose lives have become strangely and inextricably entwined be able to survive the dangers of this new frontier?
The Boy with Blue Trousers is a beautiful exploration of femininity and womanhood, across two vast and very different countries. We see two very different sides of womanhood – Little Cat and Violet are as different as two women can be; one trying to hide her femininity, the other embracing it. But neither is better than the other. Carol Jones has done an exceptional job of showing that these women are both valid representations of womanhood, which still rings true today. They are both incredibly strong women who have dealt with hardship and are now the masters of their own fates.
It’s a story of strength, womanhood, love and vengeance. Carol Jones has created a visually stunning piece of work. I was transported while reading it, from sitting in a riverside delta in 1856 China to trekking the long, hot road between South Australia and Victoria in 1857. It is a beautifully written and delightful read, with the perfect amount of mystery, action and romance.
About the author:
Born in Brisbane, Australia, Carol Jones taught English and Drama at secondary schools before working as an editor of children’s magazines. She
is the author of several young adult novels as well as children’s non-fiction.