The Weif

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
358 Pages
Reviewed on 03/18/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite

The Weif by DE Brand tells the story of Lizzie Darling, her brother, and Bella. First, Lizzie's brother is transported to Australia because of a prank that has gone terribly wrong - then Lizzie has to find out that a woman seems to not even have the right to defend herself when a man tries to rape her. For defending herself, she is also convicted as a criminal, and sent off to Australia. On the journey, she meets Bella, who becomes an important person in Lizzie's life. Lizzie works through her years, earns her ticket of leave, but decides to remain in Australia. Everything seems to go well until fate plays some cruel tricks on the young woman. She has to learn that nothing good seems to last forever, and that cruelty is something that always crosses her path and is used against her - until she decides that she can also be cruel.

While the reader gets to hear the stories of different characters in The Weif by DE Brand, Lizzie is clearly the central character - and deserves to be so, too. She is a woman that is thrown into the deep end many times, and who has to survive in a world in which women still have little to say. The reader is taken back to the time in which convicts were sent to Australia to serve their sentence. We learn a lot about the conditions of the transport and how convicts were really treated in Australia. The historic information is woven into the story in a very smooth manner; you simply can't help but learn more about that part of history. At the heart of the story, however, is the struggle of one woman for the right to live her life the way she wants to live it. I found the plot became more and more exciting with each chapter, and while I usually do not like woman's fiction, this one was a really good read!

Tracy Slowiak

In an interesting, emotional and historically accurate new read by author DE Brand, The Weif is a story that will have readers engaged from the very start and will keep them reading obsessively all the way through to the very end. Follow the story of Irish lass Lizzie Darling, who has been banished from her family and Ireland after committing an unspeakable violent act. She finds herself in Hobart Town, working as a nursery maid for the Fletcher family, and even finds a tutor willing to teach her to read and write. But just as things seem to be looking up for the young girl, she finds herself adrift again, on her way to Adelaide. After a shipwreck leaves her stranded with a person who is not as they originally seemed, she fights her way forward to begin a life as a respected teacher on the Victorian gold fields. Life deals her another blow, and she has to resort to violence again. Will she be able to make a life for herself after this turn? You'll need to read the book to find out!

I very much enjoyed The Weif. Author DE Brand has done an amazing job in creating characters that readers will connect with, relate to and truly come to care about. If that isn't a hallmark of a great author, I'm not sure what is. The story line is crisp and unique, and moves forward at an excellent pace. The historical details appear to be accurate and really add to the authenticity of the story. I am pleased to be able to highly recommend The Weif and look forward to reading more from author DE Brand in the future!

Neil A White

The Weif by DE Brand is a wondrous historical journey seen through the eyes of the three main characters, set in the mid-19th century. A journey that begins in a troubled Ireland and the overcrowded prisons of England and that transports the reader to the latter years of a British convict state that will soon evolve into the nation we now know as Australia. The story begins with the sentencing of a young Irishman, Will, to a 14-year sentence and transportation to the colonies for an unfortunate lark gone awry. A mere few years later, his younger sister, Lizzie, is sentenced to 7 years for assault when fending off the advances of her employer. Once on board ship, Lizzie is befriended by an older and wiser Bella, forming the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Ms. Brand’s storytelling of Will’s degradation on board his transport ship to his years in Sydney, to Lizzie’s and Bella’s landing in Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) and imprisonment at the infamous Female Factory, reminded me fleetingly, and favorably, of the books within Bryce Courtenay’s exquisite Australian Trilogy. We follow their lives through the years and their ever-changing locales while they happen upon many of embryonic Australia’s more important historical events. Can Will locate his sister? Will Lizzie ever truly escape the ties that bind her? Can an entire people escape their chains and carve out a new and free life? Ms. Brand’s novel is superbly researched. And for those readers looking for a glimpse into the formative years of a nation, The Weif is a fantastic primer.

Romuald Dzemo

The Weif by DE Brand tells the story of a young girl, banished from her homeland at the age of fifteen after she commits a violent act. The book follows her adventures as she starts a new life, determined to mend her ways and succeed in life. She moves to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) where she finds work as a nursery maid, eventually learning a great deal from the family tutor, Percy. She leaves her nursery job and heads for Adelaide to take up a new job as a mistress, but her plans are foiled when the ship is wrecked and she finds herself on the stranger shores of South Australia. Lizzie Darling will settle here to start life anew, opening her own school and gaining the reputation of a respectable teacher, but nothing good seems to last long for her. She’ll have to make a choice between violence and going down indefinitely.

Told in the first person narrative, The Weif is an impassioned story that looks at the highs and lows of one woman’s life, a story that is filled with realism and powerful life lessons. Readers will learn to care about the protagonist, watching as she develops, wondering if she can find redemption. DE Brand is a good storyteller and she allows her Irish culture to come through the narrative. The author masterfully handles great themes like friendship, education, change, and adventure. The internal conflict within the protagonist is well-developed and a great force drives this beautiful story. The Weif is a well-developed and engaging read.

Kris Moger

In general, I enjoyed The Weif. The plot was clear with well-rounded characters and it was easy to get invested in it. The plight of each one of them and how their unjust/harsh sentences affected their lives drew me in right away. It was interesting to see the difference between the treatment of classes: eg. the condemnation of Will as compared to his sister’s attacker.

Unfortunately, I was not fond of the rape scenes. I find that using rape (while it is a reality of life) is an overused trope for creating conflict. Even the rape of Will and his friend seems more gratuitous than something that moves the plot along. Bernie is already depressed and the general abuses and suffering that occurred on the ship seemed more than enough to push him over the edge. I’ve included a couple of links to articles on rape in stories.

Aside from this, for me, the story had moments where it slipped into too much telling as opposed to showing and the dialogue felt wooden at times too.

I also found the dialogue somewhat boring in its presentation. One person speaks/another person speaks. There are no dialogue tags at all (which, I know, is often encouraged in writing circles) but there is also little description or action attached to the dialogue. This tends to feel like listening to a phone call instead of painting a scene one can sink into. There is little to support the dialogue and give body to the scene.

Overall, though, I think the story has plenty of potential. Thanks for the read.