Drawing on her own family history, this is a story from Jackie French about education in Colonial Australia - and how women once had to fight for their right to it. January 1901 - Sharks circle a stranded ship as a young girl and her family stagger from the waves… Rescued by a Pacific Islander boy named Jamie, Hannah's family begin a new life in Port Harris, which at first seems a paradise for the schoolmaster's daughter. But local fortunes are built on slavery and the whip.
As the new Federal Parliament passes the law that will force Pacific Islanders from their homes, Hannah and her mother risk everything to run a secret school, while Hannah and Jamie must fight for their rights to education and equality. Can friendship and love win against prejudice and power?
Inspired by real events, this powerful new novel brings to life the bravery and battles of the past, and gives us courage for the challenges of today.
The Schoomaster’s Daughter is historical fiction and is Jackie French at her very best.
Hannah and her family arrive at Port Harris in much danger after their ship becomes stranded and they are forced to flee to the closest beach. Saved by Pacific Islander Jamie, they make their way to Mr Harris’s plantation where Hannah’s father will be the new Schoolmaster.
Life in 1901 is difficult for the women, who must do everything their husband or father says, and the Islanders are treated as if they don’t even exist and must never be seen in white company.
How will Hannah and Jamie keep their friendship a secret and can they ever expect to receive the education they both so desperately crave?
This book is based on the lives of Jackie’s great-grandparents and grandmothers, and shows the amazing courage and compassion that these brave women had in fighting equal rights for all people.
A truly wonderful story that shows us how much has changed since federation, and what a debt of gratitude we owe to our forebears who fought so hard for change.
Highlighting how far we have come, but also how important it is to always have the courage to stand up for equality and fairness for all no matter the challenges you face, a theme that still rings true today.
This book should be read by all teenagers, but will probably appeal most to girls in Year 9 and up.
Reviewed by Michelle