The Dreaming

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The death of Joanna Drury’s mother under mysterious circumstances and the inception of a series of disturbing dreams impel her to seek the secrets of her family’s past. Joanna, much against her will, comes to accept her mother’s belief in a family curse of Australian origin. Once there, she finds herself governess to Hugh Westbrook’s nephew Adam. Westbrook is developing a sheep station deep in the interior of the continent. He is a man of vision who is not inclined to avoid the physical and emotional commitment required to achieve his dreams.

Predictably, Westbrook is engaged to Pauline Downs—the most desirable woman in the district. Nevertheless, Westbrook increasingly finds himself drawn to Joanna and she to him. The marriage of Hugh and Pauline and Pauline’s subsequent union with Colin MacGregor sets in motion a feud of catastrophic proportions.

A companion development to the Westbrook-MacGregor imbroglio is Joanna’s increasing awareness that the dark secret which haunts her past is somehow connected to the history and customs of the Australian aborigines. Patient investigation and serendipity are ultimately rewarded in the wilds of Western Australia.

Wood’s extensive Australian family connections allow her to achieve a refreshing verisimilitude. Moreover, although some of the events and developments may raise an eyebrow, they do occur within the rather extensive parameters of plausibility, in that truth is so often more bizarre than fiction. THE DREAMING is historical fiction at its most informative and entertaining best.