by Helen Macpherson
Sister Katherine Flynn is an Irish nun, sent by her order to work in the Australian outback. Katherine is a prideful woman who originally joined her order to escape the shame of being left at the altar. She had found herself getting married only because society dictated it for a young woman her age, and she was not exactly heartbroken when it didn’t take place. Yet, her mother could not be consoled and talked of nothing except the disgrace that she had brought to the Flynn name. So, she finds great relief in escaping the cold Victorian Ireland of 1872. Upon her arrival in the outback, she is thrust into the aftermath of a horrific windstorm that has devastated the town, leaving death and suffering in its wake. She begins her work of tending to the less fortunate families of the district and finds great joy in educating the children.
Catriona Pelham is a member of the reasonably affluent farming gentry within the district. Her relationship with the hardworking townspeople and its farmers is one of genuine and mutual respect. The town’s wealthy, however, have ostracized her due to her unorthodox ways and refusal to conform to society’s expectations of a woman of the 1870’s. Catriona finds comfort in the friendship of the townspeople and farmers, but at night she pines for the lover she lost long ago -her governess, Adele Cooper.
As a bond between Katherine and Catriona develops, Catriona finds herself wanting more than friendship from the Irishwoman. However, she fears pursuing her feelings lest they not be reciprocated. And so the journey begins for these two strong-willed women. For Katherine it is a journey of self-discovery and of what life holds outside the cloistered walls of the convent. For Catriona it is bittersweet, as feelings she has kept hidden for years resurface in her growing interest in Katherine.