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Can one woman survive in a convict's world?
Remember Me - Lesley Pearse
Member Name: Anti
Remember Me - Lesley Pearse
Advantages: Gripping story, Mary is a superb protagonist.
Disadvantages: None for me.
'Remember Me' is a novel by Lesley Pearse which I decided to get from my library after reading a positive review from another Dooyoo member (dippykitty) and realising it sounded like my kind of novel. This is my first Lesley Pearse novel and I hadn't read around the setting of the book much, but thanks to that review I had high expectations from this book and honestly, I wasn't disappointed!
It's 1786. Avoiding a hanging when she is caught stealing a silk hat, Cornish-born Mary Broad is instead sentenced to transportation. She is bound for a ship to Australia with fellow convicts and Marine troops. However, her journey conditions on the ship are horrific and settling on the mysterious land, under the orders of an apathetic, lawless, colony doesn't make her life much better as she and her companions hoped. But Mary is determined to stay strong and survive under these new circumstances, for the sake of her children and herself, and longs for the day when she can escape back to England...
'Remember Me' is superbly written right from the beginning. We immediately learn about and empathize with Mary and it stays that way through to the very end. Pearse writes about the terrible conditions of both the Australian colony and the ships Mary is forced to travel on throughout her journeys, and I felt disgusted that any people, even convicted felons, were treated without any consideration for survival either on land or at sea. Although in a story of a journey like this there aren't any twists to speak of, unexpected things do happen and it left me pining for Mary as it seemed like she was fated for disaster at each turn. Fortunately, there is a more or less happy ending for Mary after all her struggles.
Mary Broad is a perfect protagonist: skilled, hardy, and most of all determined amongst men who consider her inferior instead of an equal. Sometimes I was put off by her behaviour, such as the scenes where she offered herself for tangible benefits, but these things were necessary for her survival and it stops her from being a Mary Sue-like character. The story of Mary Broad was real and Pearse does well into making her into a woman of the times but one whom we can relate to and eventually admire. Her characters grows from a nineteen year old filled with regret at the crime which has got her hanged, to a woman in her mid-twenties whom has survived so much but does not break down. That said, while none of the male characters are as dominating as the female protagonist they can be interesting in their own right. Mary's husband and fellow convict Will is a charismatic man who shares a few of Mary's strengths but more deeply flawed and insecure, while Marine Officer Watkin Tench is a kindly man who cares so much about Mary that I also sympathized with him a lot as well. Pearse brings them all to life as they all share a part in the horrors of the convict ships and life in Australia, yet as men they recognise Mary's strengths and survivalist nature despite her being a woman.
'Remember Me' was an amazing book. I have never been interested much in this period of history, let alone specifically the colonization of Australia, but this novel got me fascinated with how it turned out and I got very accustomed to the period and the situations of the times. I will definitely be checking out some more of Lesley Pearse's books in the future because I really enjoyed this one!
(Review also on Ciao under the username Anti_W)
Summary: An amazing and (mostly) true story of one woman's survival.