Musk & Byrne

Fiona Capp

Musk & Byrne
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Musk & Byrne

Fiona Capp

Jemma Musk is settling into her new home in the bustling goldfields town of Wombat Hill, wanting to establish herself as a painter and an independent woman. But word has gone out that she saw a young girl brush with death. Instead of saving her, she sketched her. What kind of woman does that? This is not the last time that Jemma Musk will find herself hounded by gossip and scandal. Even after she has married Gotardo, an Italian-Swiss dairy farmer, and given birth to their daughter Lucy, happiness is denied her. A tragedy sets Jemma on the run from the law, and a legend - that of the beautiful outlaw Musk and her accomplice Byrne - is born. The passionate and headstrong Jemma, determined to live the creative life, is a heroine in the mould of Sybylla from My Brilliant Career. She will win your heart in this tumultuous and enthralling novel by the author of Night Surfing, Last of the Sane Days, and the award-winning That Oceanic Feeling.

Review

Award-winning Australian author Fiona Capp (That Oceanic Feeling) has ventured into the eventful world of historical fiction with her new novel. Set in 1860s Victoria, its heroine is Jemma Musk, an independent young woman of single-minded artistic ambition. As a new governess in the goldfields town of Wombat Hill, Jemma quickly sets tongues wagging with her unconventional behaviour. She meets an Italian dairy farmer, marries and becomes a mother – though temptation soon follows in the form of Nathaniel Byrne, geological surveyor and fellow free-spirit. Byrne offers an escape route when family tragedy strikes and Jemma becomes targeted by the law. They flee, and together unwittingly create the legend of Musk and Byrne.

Capp credibly evokes an era and a strong sense of place. Some of her finest writing describes the physical environment – the goldfields or the lonely coastline of the Mornington Peninsula. Against this background, her characters explore the dangers and salvations of love, discover the true nature of art and of independence and embody the nineteenth-century Australian fascination with outlaw mythology. Intelligent and well-paced, Musk and Byrne has much to keep the reader reading.

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