As a follow-on from my series on writing with illness, disability and loss, I would like to finish the series by drawing some parallels on these topics by referring to my book, Waireka.
Eliza, the heroine of my book, is a very young girl of just seventeen years old when she sets off on a ship to New Zealand as a nursemaid to her local minister and his family. Little does Eliza realise that before she even reaches her destination, she will experience not only disease and death aboard the ship….
“They heard …reports of dysentery and scarlet fever being rife on the ship, especially amongst the steerage passengers, Eliza had seen bodies dispatched over the edge already, particularly those of young children and she feared for the health of the young Reids.” (Waireka pg 47)
but also storms at sea which will cause her to fear that they will never even reach their destination….
“The storms began first thing in the morning just before Christmas day and didn’t let up for nearly a week. Eliza had never spent such a miserable Christmas before. She had heard from various people that the Tasman Sea was particularly treachourous ordinarily but with the added pressure of a recent earthquake, nothing could have prepared her for the violent onslaught of these storms….
‘Will the storm stop soon, Lizzie?’ complained Maria on the third day.
‘I’m sure it will, dearie,’ said Eliza with much more conviction than she felt. It was hard to comfort the children when she herself felt comfortless. She kept her thoughts to herself however and dared not tell the children that she feared for their very lives and could not now imagine ever seeing the coast of New Zealand.” (Waireka pg 47)
What will happen to Eliza? Do they arrive unscathed in Wellington, New Zealand? If so, how does she adapt to life in the new country?
To find out more about her journey and what happens to Eliza and the Reid family please take a look at my book.