The Runaway Settlers – Elsie Locke

HarperCollins Publishers ISBN 978-1-86950-769-5

The Runaway Settlers The Year is 1859 and the Small family arrives in the Canterbury colony without a penny to their name.  Mother and six children have a hard beginning to their new life – all the more since they are runaways from a cruel father and husband in Australia.  But there are adventures ahead…

Elsie Locke has a way of taking a situation and turning it into a readable story.  I enjoyed her story of the volcanic eruption of Tarawera in A Canoe in the Mist and now she has taken a story of a early colonial family and turned it into a page turner.  The Small’s are sick of being beaten up by an abusive husband and father, and so Mrs Small takes matters into her own hands, and when her husband is away droving stock, Mrs Small takes her family and runs away to Sydney with the hopes of finding a boat to take them somewhere, anywhere away from Mr Small.

They find passage on a ship bound for Lyttleton and so begins the NZ adventure.  This is based on a true story of a pioneer woman who was willing to take on the challenge of bringing up her family on her own in a very hostile location.  Having secured a small run down hut from the man that her sons were supposed to work for,  Mrs Small (now known as Mrs Phipps) forges a life for herself and her children, building up the courage and tenacity in her own children to face their fears and grow stronger.

I loved the fast paced nature of the story.  It didn’t dwell on the negative, instead focused on the challenges and how they overcame them.

A very enjoyable afternoon read.

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