Finella Mayfield hates two things: liars and thieves. And she’s determined to marry a man who’s neither. Chasing her dead father’s dreams, the twenty-year-old English bride arrives in Australia in 1875 for an arranged marriage. Anticipating her future as village preacher’s wife, she records her thoughts in her Everlasting journal.
But instead of her fiancé, Finella is met by Shadrach Jones, a poor farmer sent to collect her from the busy Melbourne pier.
This is not what her father planned. And it’s only the beginning of the unraveling of Finella Mayfield ~ the bride with no groom.
All Shadrach Jones longs for is rows of mustard and chicory. He’s busy growing a farm near the Phillip Island fishing village of Cowes, and caring for Molly, his simple sister. Far from the brutal life they remember with their ex-convict father, Shadrach’s building something new.
But he’s also made a promise to a dying friend. To collect and marry the English girl destined to never be a preacher’s wife.
Can Shadrach convince Finella she has a future with a farmer? Can he convince himself, knowing his family secrets will haunt their future?
I’ve read great things about Carry Me Home ever since its’ release a couple of years ago. And now I’m kicking myself that I waited so long to read it.
Set in 1870’s Australia, this novel carried me away to another time and place I don’t think I’ve ever visited in fiction before. The author is a gifted writer making her setting come alive. Her writing style is achingly lovely and alive with emotion. I felt myself instantly drawn in to the inner lives and thoughts of Shadrach and Finella. The journey that the three main characters take is both beautiful and bittersweet.
Shadrach, Finella and Molly are all survivors of heartache and tragedy. But it has affected them each in different ways. Finella has allowed the grief and fear of loss to make her brittle, distrustful and even judgmental towards Shad and Molly. Even when they extend patience and grace towards her, she struggles to offer the same. This made it hard for me to like her at times. Especially when her pain caused her to hurt the Jones siblings.
Shad and Molly both have learned to forgive and to love well. It’s easier for Molly to do with her simple mind. But I love how Finella’s interactions with Molly show a softer side of her and a braver side to Molly as Molly is forced to confront things she fears.
Shad is certain to be one of my favorite heroes ever and definitely my first favorite of 2019. He’s the best kind of hero; patient, thoughtful and sacrificial. His unconditional love of his sister is especially sweet. But it is his long-suffering kindness and compassion to Finella that really reveals his character. No matter how abrasive she is towards him or much she looks down on a life he has worked hard for, he never retaliates. He continues his quiet, persistent courting of her. And oh! His grand gesture with the shells made me melt into the floor while longing for that depth of love on display.
Though I have mixed feelings about the ending, I really appreciate that it doesn’t wrap everything up nicely with a bow. These characters must live with the consequences of their choices and choose to grow from them. Just like in real life. And though this story is full of hardship and grief, there is so much loveliness in the way it is told and in the emotional connection I felt with Shad, Finella and Molly.
Carry Me Home appears to be the first book in a series. However, it was released in 2015 and there are currently no other books by the author. I really, really hope that she continues with this series at some point, because this book is going on my list of favorites.