The Settling Earth

Fiction - Short Story/Novela
128 Pages
Reviewed on 07/03/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vernita Naylor for Readers' Favorite

If you are looking for a book with variety, consider getting a copy of The Settling Earth: A Collection of Short Stories by Rebecca Burns with guest writer Shelly Davies. In this book you will be able to enjoy stories from love lost and longing to death. The collection of stories, from The Pickled Eggs to Dottie to Balance, will entice you to want more. Dottie, written by Rebecca, puts me in mind of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Mrs. Gray, a widow, felt that it was her duty to take in unwanted children. For years many would flock to her door to leave their infants and children because they were unable to care for them. It appeared that Mrs. Gray was well off, but no one knew what it meant. It was only assumed that, in her care, their children would be well taken care of. What no one knew was that behind those closed doors was death.

I truly loved reading the stories in The Settling Earth. This is my second review for this author and each time I am pleased with the stories chosen for her collection. I found her debut collection, Catching the Barramundi, a great find. Shelly Davies' story, Balance, was interesting because she introduced her culture from the Ngatiwai tribe and the familiarity with indigenous stories to tell her tale. In Balance, Haimona was not comfortable with how Hans was treating everyone he encountered, but one day Haimona decided to create balance to make things easier for everyone, especially Laura, Hans’ stepdaughter. These are two of my favorites. Happy reading.

Mark ODwyer

They voyaged from Britain to the ends of the earth, “the antipodes”. Driven by hardship, propelled by hope, the women in these stories left behind the Mother Country and sought to make new lives. But the settlers brought with them the same stultifying conventions and social constraints they had left behind.
Isolated on bleak farms or in soul-destroying boarding houses, the women are at the mercy of men’s whims, and no less enshackling, the male control of property. They are always one slip away from total poverty. They must reach deep down through their instincts to do what it takes to survive – or else succumb.

Each story is complete and satisfying in itself, and yet -like life - they are also connected by events or characters, so that the stories towards the end satisfyingly close the circle of themes. The last story, by Shelly Davies of the Ngātiwai tribe, adds a Maori viewpoint of these arrivals.

I enjoyed Rebecca Burns previous collection, Catching the Barramundi and found The Settling Earth  to be a fascinating perspective into frontier New Zealand.