The Pines Hold Their Secrets


Who is he? How does he know my name? What does he want of me?These questions mixed with her fascination for a stranger preoccupy Elise Cartwright as she and her family try to make a home in the Norfolk Island penal settlement in the mid-nineteenth century. The settlement is for them as much as for the convicts, a place of exile, a place of punishment.

The Pines Hold Their Secrets is an historical novel set in the notorious penal settlement of Norfolk Island in the 1850s. Elise Cartwright, the daughter of the superintendant of agriculture at the settlement is strangely drawn to an Irish convict who called her by name, requesting her help.

Elise is forced to confront her mother’s bigotry and her society’s smugness in their position of authority and privilege. The Irish priest introduces Elise to his world of American literature while the convict servants introduce her to their world of land-loss, exploitation and famine. Slowly, she learns who ‘her convict’ is, as her family’s fate becomes ever more tightly enmeshed with his.

The novel is based on the historical reality of the Irish famine, the 19th century Young Ireland movement and the notoriety of Norfolk Island as the worst of the colonial Australian penal settlements.

July 1998, 283pp
Paperback, 215 x 138 mm
ISBN 0 9587718 8 X
Fiction, 1st edition
RRP $aud 21.95
ISBN-13 978

The Author
Jill Blee has a BA and an MA in history from Macquarie University, an MA in writing from the University of Western Sydney, and a PhD in History from the University of Ballarat. Her interests are principally in Irish and Irish-Australian history and literature and both have featured in her own writing. Over many years her attention has been focussed on Ballarat and the Irish migrants who settled there during and after the goldrushes of the 1850s.

Jill’s three novels published by Indra all have an Irish flavour –
The Pines Hold Their Secrets,
Brigid and
The Liberator’s Birthday.

The first concerns an Irish convict wrongly banished to Norfolk Island; the second is set in Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine, and the third focuses on a day in the life of an Irish family on the Ballarat goldfields.

Jill’s From the Murray to the Sea, Indra, 2004, is a comprehensive history of the Catholic education system in the Diocese of Ballarat, Australia.

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