This book captured my imagination straight away. It covers so many themes, like Federation, education, abuse, philosophy, racism etc. The descriptions of central west NSW were wonderful, and the evolving love story wound it all together.
Great read couldn't wait for my commute each day to read the book and loved the information from the author on what inspired the story. Looking forward to her next book having also enjoyed The Blue Mile.
Since the tragic separate deaths of their parents some years earlier, Berylda Jones and her younger sister Greta have been living in their family home under the guardianship of their tyrannical Uncle Alec who has always treated them very badly. Because the girls were still minors, Uncle Alec laid claim to the estate and all of the assets along with being charged with the responsibility of the care and education of the two sisters. He ruled with an iron fist and made their once perfect lives a misery, depriving them of any and all social activities or entertainments. He was cruel and abusive in many ways, both emotionally and physically.
Both of the girls would conspire to get away from him just as soon as they could. Berylda, being the eldest, was first to leave home and go on to university to study medicine. Her plan was that she would study very hard for her medical exams and get herself set up so that she could come for her sister.
It is the end of the year of 1900 and Berylda is travelling home for Christmas after having completed her exams for entry to medicine. She is so excited and can't wait to see her sister and tell her of the plans that she has hatched to free her sister and herself from the clutches of their cruel and sadistic uncle...she only hopes that she has the courage to follow them through.
Since being back at their home, Berylda has come to realize just how desperate her sister's situation has become during her absence, and is fearful of not being able to carry out her plans, because her new understanding of the circumstances have made her realize the situation has become even more dire.
Berylda was getting desperate to put her plans together as quickly as she could as her uncle's temper began to escalate. Then, on New Years Eve, just as things appeared to be taking a turn for the worst, fate seems to have intervened when a stranger arrives at their doorstep, and Berylda finds herself infused with renewed hope as her plans suddenly take on a more positive shape. She can see their dreams of a better future becoming more and more possible. The stranger is a visiting botanist in search of an elusive wildflower he believes might be growing on their property.
If Berylda can set some plans into action before this stranger disappears as easily as he appeared, then it is quite possible that he might hold the key to their freedom.
Here begins another story as we follow the progress of Berylda's plans and how she goes about executing them.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read which kept up a steady pace of intrigue and ire making it a real page turner. There were also moments of sheer poetry and beauty, as Kim Kelly's detailed observations of the surrounding bushland and its terrain, managed to transport the reader to that place and time. Most enjoyable for me, (as a gardener) were the detailed and accurate descriptions of the Australian native bush and its flowers, described in all their glory from the perspective of the botanist's keen eye...I could easily envisage the picture and almost smell that beautiful Australian bush scent of eucalyptus and tea trees and various gum trees.
Kim Kelly sure knows how to tell a great story, and this is one I would have no qualms about recommending 4★s
Berylda Jones wants to become a doctor. It's 1900 and it isn't common for women to study. She's done all the exams she needs to do to be able to start and is heading home for the holidays. She dreads going there as it means she'll have to be under the same roof as her uncle Alec. Alec has Berylda and her sister Greta in his power. He's in charge of everything and has the authority to make all the decisions. Unfortunately he's creepy and mean. Berylda can escape in her studies, but it means she has to leave her sister behind with a psychopath. It's something she keeps struggling with, because she doesn't want to do that.
When she meets botanist Ben Wilberry and invites him and his travel companion to spend New Year's Eve with them Berylda sees a great opportunity. She asks Ben to accompany her and her sister to a Chinese doctor who has miraculously cured a man who had cancer. Ben and his friend Cosmo are traveling with the sisters. Ben wants to find rare daisies and he's excited about the trip. Not only because of the flowers, but also because it gives him the chance to spend time with Berylda. Only Berylda finds herself in an impossible situation and she only sees one solution...
Paper Daisies is a beautiful story about a woman who wants to have the freedom to do what she likes. She wants to be able to study and she also thinks it's unfair that an evil man has so much control over her and her sister simply because they are women and they can't have access to their own money. Berylda is smart, she's really smart, and she comes up with a plan, but it's something that will destroy her inside if it will ever be carried out.
Ben is such a sweet man. He has a good heart and he's loving and caring. He's awkward around women, but for Berylda he's doing his very best. He wants her to like him and hopes they will have a future together. Berylda doesn't want to depend on a man and she doesn't want to fall in love. Ben is a good man, but will she see it? I couldn't wait to find out. I loved this story, it's got a wonderful setting, a little bit of mystery, great main characters and a lot of fantastic descriptions. Kim Kelly has done her research so well. I was transported to a different time and it was like I could see the whole story, it felt like I was there. I think authors who are able to write like that have an amazing gift. I highly recommend this wonderful book.