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The Settling Earth Paperback – December 16, 2014
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About the Author
Rebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories, over thirty of which have been published online or in print. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011, winner of the Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition in 2013 (and runner-up in 2014), and has been profiled as part of the University of Leicester's "Grassroutes Project" - a project that showcases the 50 best transcultural writers in the county.
The Settling Earth is her second collection of short stories. Her debut collection, Catching the Barramundi, was published in 2012 - also by Odyssey Books - and was longlisted for the Edge Hill Award in 2013.
You can read more about Rebecca at rebecca-burns.co.uk
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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.
The short stories are beautifully told. The main message in the novel is that even though women lived far away from Britain, they are not treated with respect to men. Women are very powerless. This evident by the way that the women have been treated. Sarah’s husband views her as nothing but property and often neglects her and doesn’t bother to care about her. One husband abuses his stepdaughter. The viewpoints from the male colonial settlers are portrayed negatively. While they don’t respect their women, they also don’t respect anyone but themselves. They are arrogant, selfish, and cruel. However, one man is portrayed in a positive light, and that is the Maori. He is mostly looked down upon, and he witnesses the difference between his culture and the foreign one. He feels hates how the foreigners treat their women and the land.
Overall, the story is about how a group of people cope by living far from their homeland. It is also about choices and sacrifice. while there are dark stories, there are also stories of hope, redemption, and the blossoming of friendship. The writing is very beautiful and the setting is well-developed. Sometimes I wish that the stories was longer because they always ended in cliffhangers. I recommend these to anyone, who is interested in learning about the early colonial settlement of New Zealand, or looking for a good short story to read.
(Note: I read an ARC copy of this book in courtesy of Netgalley.)
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 the past of the the land where I was born.