Fled by Meg Keneally
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Convict-era historical fiction based on the true story of the daring escape of Mary Bryant (and others) in an open boat from Sydney Cove to Kupang, Timor.
The known aspects of Mary’s life, which are rather sketchy, are well embedded in the fictional retelling. Jenny Trelawney (Mary) is a plausible eighteenth-century convict woman. The trials and tribulations of those tough times are well-depicted.
The use of language, in general, reflects the era. However, for characters who are, in the main, illiterate and uneducated, the dialogue is rather too eloquent. After her return to England, Jenny acquires a wealthy benefactor.
From there, the story takes a ‘Pygmalion’ turn that leads to an odd fairytale ending. Why? In the author’s own words, ‘I wrote for Jenny the ending I feel Mary deserves.’ Is this approach justified? Few details are known about the real Mary Bryant, so … why not?