Author(s): Evelyn Conlon
By 1848 famine has ravaged Ireland, and London remains undecided about what to do. A shortage of female labour in Australia offers a kind of solution and so, over the following two years, more than 4000 Irish girls are shipped across vast oceans to an unimaginable world in the new colony. On Sunday 28 October 1849, one of these ships, the "Thomas Arbuthnot," sets sail from Plymouth with a cargo of girls under the care of Surgeon-superintendent Charles Strutt. "Not the Same Sky" tells the story of Honora, Julia, Bridget and Anne. It observes them on the voyage, examining their relationship of trust with Charles Strutt, and follows them from Sydney as they become women of Australia, negotiating their new lives as best they can. A stark, poetic intensity gives these young women historical importance and human presence in an elegant and subtle novel suffused with humour.