February 24, 2016

Fresh from the Bookshelf: Staircase to the Moon by Elizabeth Haran {Book Review}

By now, most of my regular readers know that I am a sucker for a good historical fiction book. Westerns and war era novels are my most favorite. Oh, and ones that take place somewhere that ISN'T America. Needless to say when I discovered a soon to be released e-book Staircase to the Moon by Elizabeth Harden (new author to me!) that takes place in Australia, on an isolated station in Kimberly during the pre-WW1 years, I knew I needed to check it out! I only hoped it would live up to my standards of a great historical fiction book!

Staircase to the Moon by Elizabeth Haran: eBook Review

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About the Book

Perth, Australia 1913
Emily is a seamstress working with her father and three brothers in a tailor shop. Emily has a problem. She has no life. Living with a strict father and three overbearing brothers has ruined any chance she has of getting to do what SHE wants to do. She is chomping at the bit. Dying to break free, but resolutely sure she's never going to be able to. But one day her brothers inform her that they have arranged a marriage for her--to a man more than twice her age! This is the straw that breaks the camels back and she snaps, secretly making a run for it to a cattle station far away in Kimberly to work as a private seamstress for a large wealthy ranch family that welcomes her with open arms.

Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, freedom likes she's never known, and new friends who shower her with meaningful friendships and companionship, Emily is finally happy. But suddenly war breaks out in Europe. Will everything she has come to love come crashing down around her? Or will she be able to beat the odds and find more happiness than she could have ever dreamed?

My Thoughts About the Book

I didn't know what to expect with Staircase to the Moon, as the author was new to me. I was intrigued by the summary and that it takes place in Australia pre-WW1. As I started the book, I was drawn rapidly into the story and life of Emily. What a childhood she must have had with her three brothers and father watching every move she made. I laughed at the part where she shares the moment her brothers "discover" that she's a developing girl. How simply embarrassing it would have been for everyone!

I enjoyed watching Emily's character develop as she pulls herself up by the bootstraps and decides to take the running of her life into her own hands. I can't imagine setting out the way she did during that time into the unknown isolated wilds of Kimberly Australia! 

The whole time I was reading this book, I was bringing to mind the movie Australia as it too takes place on an isolated ranch with a city girl trying to help make ends meet against the odds.

I totally called the ending, but I shed tears during that last chapter. I haven't cried for a book in forever! 

There are 2 places where there is a curse word (I think just two), but no violence and no sex (though one of Emily's dates puts his hand on her thigh at dinner...she dumped her soup on him).

I enjoyed having the tie-in of the war and "living" the war through the letters that were being written by the family members overseas to those back in Australia on the ranch. I felt the homelife was portrayed pretty real, even down to the despair of the mother as she receives those dreaded war telegrams that changed so many peoples' lives in an instant during wartimes.

I also think the mentions of the racism that there was during that time against the Aboriginal and Chinese peoples gave another level of depth to the story too.

Oh, as a side, the interaction between the Chinese man Hop-Sing and Emily had me grinning and chuckling several times. I loved how they had a love/hate relationship throughout the book that morphed and changed as they both grew to know each other better. What a character that Hop Sing was!

This was a great book and I really really liked it! I mean, it's not every day that I am brought to tears!
I will definitely be seeking out more books by Elizabeth Haran and will be recommending this one to my friends and fellow readers.
Staircase to the Moon
by Elizabeth Haran
Available exclusively in eBook form

Professional Reader

I am sorry that this book is not available in print form, for it would be a great asset for any library. I wasn't sure how I would like it, but it exceeded my expectations and was a great read! I can't wait to snag some of the authors other books, and I suggest you give them a try too!

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