Aussie Book Review: Farewell to Lancashire by Anna Jacobs

Farewell to LancashireAnna Jacobs- Farewell to Lancashire (#1, Swan River Colony series)

Format- Paperback

Source- Self-purchase

Synopsis: Cassandra Blake has raised her three motherless sisters. The girls are the pride of their book-loving, impractical father, and not in a hurry to marry. Then the American Civil War cuts off supplies of cotton to Lancashire, the mills fall silent and there is no work. There is a stark choice: stay and risk starvation or pack up and begin again elsewhere. Cassandra has fallen in love with Reece Gregory, but he can’t support a wife. When he’s given the chance to start a new life in Western Australia, he seizes the opportunity, promising to send for her. Then an old feud tears the family apart. Cassandra is kidnapped and her sisters are forced to sail with a group of desperate cotton lasses to Fremantle. Penniless and alone, Cassandra is determined to find them again – but when she is offered a way, there is a painful price to pay

Review: This was not the light-headed historical romance that I had expected, although it had started that way. Instead, it revealed the depths of hardship during the American war which had huge effects onEngland’s sustainability.

Four sisters nurse their sickly father as they waste away due to hunger and poverty. The only hope for Cassandra, the eldest is her friendship with Reece, who visits weekly and they discuss the pleasures of books and travel. They love each other, but in those tough times he was unable to offer her marriage. He takes a job offer in Australia with plans to send for her in a year or two when he is more financially stable.

Meanwhile, an estranged uncle takes pity on the sisters and provides them with additional food and support, but this infuriates his wife who has a hateful grudge against his family. She is a wicked woman, who is truly sociopathic (or mentally unwell) and will not let anything get in her way of running the girls out of town. When Cassandra is kidnapped and tortured, the girls have no choice but to take their Aunt’s orders and leave not only their hometown, but also their country. They are forced to take ship and immigrate to Australia without knowing if their sister was dead or alive.

Cassandra is a very strong character and despite the trauma she experienced she continues to move forward out of responsibility to her sisters and for the love of her father. I was quite upset by her experience and hoped it wouldn’t break her or her ability to rekindle her loving relationship with Reece. Thankfully she pulls through and embraces her new life in Australia. There are plenty of sub-plots with other minor characters which I assume will continue on throughout the trilogy.

I highly recommend Farewell to Lancashire for historical fiction fans who want a taste of early Australia. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author, starting with the sequel to this title, Beyond the Sunset which focuses on the youngest sister Pandora.

5/5 rating

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About the author: Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. Her novel Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006.

This book was read as part of the these three challenges:


  • I have had this out from the library a couple of times but not actually read it. I am particularly interested in this one as I grew up in Perth! Will have to request it again.

  • I haven’t read this book, either, and didn’t realise Jacobs set any books in Australia. She is such a prolific writer! She has done so well internationally, but I wonder how many Australian readers are familiar with her work? I know she also wrote some Fantasy (published as Shannah Jay), have you come across those?

    AJ spoke at a writers’ conference I attended years ago and what she said about plotting stuck with me. She said the secret to good story-telling was to put your major characters up a tree and throw rocks at her. Cruel, but great advice! The emotional pay-off in such books rivets the reader.

    Thanks for your participation in #aww2012, Jayne. I look forward to more of your discoveries.

    • No, i hadn’t realises she wrote any fantasy titles… will have to check those out too. I’d never heard of this author until recently to be honest, i picked up a couple of her books in Kmart and was excited to see they were historical stories set in Australia.

      This book is set across the two locations- swan river colony in WA and in Lancashire, England. It’s a nice contrast between the two countries.

      I think Jacobs definitely sticks by her mantra, poor Cassandra had plenty of rocks thrown at her but she powered on through!

  • Thank you for such a lovely review, Jayne. I hope you enjoy my other books – mind, you have a long way to go because I have 55 novels published now.

    • Thank you for stopping by Anna! I’ve just read the sequel, Beyond the Sunset and loved it so I’ve ordered the third to finish off the series. I also have The Traders’ Wife sitting on my review pile and look forward to getting to that soon.

      55 novels! Wow, that would take me a lifetime to get through! I do look forward to reading more of your stories.

      • You made my day! I love to hear that I’ve given people pleausre. The Trader’s Wife is a spinoff series from the Swan River Saga, and will be 4 books long when finished. I’m just finishing writing #3 at the moment. I love that era and Western Australia’s history has been neglected in fiction, so I’m trying to make up for it. You might also like Freedom’s Land, which is about group settlement in the 1920s, one of my own favourite stories among those I’ve written.

  • Thank you for your interest. My Shannah Jay fantasy titles are now re-published in ebook format, either from Amazon or from my website.

    For those who don’t know Shannah Jay, I had 5 novels published by Pan Australia, then one acepted (and never published) by a US publisher. Don’t ask! In 1996 one of my novels (Price of Wisdom #4 in the Chronicles of Tenebrak) was shortlisted for Best Australian Fantasy Novel, but darnit, someone else won. How dare he?

  • I think I have read a few earlier books from Jacobs – both her contemporary novels and a couple of her historicals sound familiar as well. As an ex-sandgroper The Swan Hill series is of interest though. I will keep my eye out for it.

  • I deliberately set my Aussie historicals mainly in Western Australia, for that very reason. Though we have visited Sydney and Victoria at times. As you do.

    Woke at 3am today with several ideas for Book 4 in the Traders series. I didn’t mind missing some sleep for that! Got up and wrote them down.

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