Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Boy With Blue Trousers by Carol Jones, published on 14th November in paperback but also available in hardback and as an ebook. Thanks to Lauren at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my review copy via NetGalley. Do head over to Instagram to check out my co-host, Kirsty at paperheartsink
About the Book
On the goldfields of 19th-century Australia, two very different girls are trying to escape their past.
1856, China. In the mulberry groves of the Pearl River Delta, eighteen-year-old Little Cat carries a terrible secret. And so, in disguise as a boy in blue trousers, she makes the long and difficult passage to Australia, a faraway land of untold riches where it is said the rivers run with gold.
1857, Australia. Violet Hartley has arrived off the boat from England, fleeing scandal back home. Like the Chinese immigrants seeking their fortunes on the goldfields, Violet is seduced by the promise of a new frontier. Then she meets Little Cat, a woman who, like her, is trying to escape her past.
As their fates inextricably, devastatingly entwine, their story becomes one of freedom, violence, love and vengeance, echoing across the landscapes of two great continents.
Format: Paperback (320 pages) Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication date: 14th November 2019 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find The Boy With Blue Trousers on Goodreads
I really enjoyed Carol Jones’s previous novel, The Concubine’s Child, set partly in 1930s Malaysia. What I particularly admired about the book was the rich cultural detail. The same is true of The Boy With Blue Trousers, especially in the early sections set in the Pearl River Delta where the reader is immersed in daily life in a small village – its inhabitants’ social customs, spiritual beliefs and traditions. Not to mention the fascinating information about the farming of silkworms!
Unlike The Concubine’s Child there is no modern day story running alongside the historical narrative, instead The Boy With Blue Trousers switches two or three chapters at a time between the stories of Little Cat and Violet Hartley. Both women have reason to flee their past and the constraints of social expectations. For me, the story of Little Cat was the most powerful and compelling because she faced the greater adversity and jeopardy. I couldn’t engage quite as fully with Violet’s story although I liked her independence of spirit. Her sense of realism about her position as a single woman and what might be necessary to enhance it was, if not admirable, at least refreshingly honest.
From the beginning, the reader is aware the two storylines will converge but not how. The intriguing prologue provides an extra layer of anticipation and the author skilfully manages the coming together of the two stories in order to keep the reader turning the pages.
The Boy With Blue Trousers will delight fans of historical fiction with its compelling story of love, duty, sacrifice and vengeance, and its wealth of cultural detail.
In three words: Dramatic, compelling, engaging
Try something similar: The Concubine’s Child by Carol Jones (read my review here)
About the Author
Born in Brisbane, Australia, Carol Jones taught English and Drama at secondary schools before working as an editor of children’s magazines. She is the author of several young adult novels as well as children’s non-fiction.