Book 2 of The Sandstone Trilogy
Independently published, printed by Ingram Sparks 2016
Unshackled, set in the 1850s in Sydney, continues the story of Irish born John Leary and his rise in the building trade. It is at once a glimpse into the history of the growth of the city and a story of the complexities of family.
John Leary’s business struggles in a tough and often corrupt industry are just part of this tale. Michael Beashel interests himself in the status and place of women at this time and in the conditions of the working men and women of the era.
The strong women in the novel stand out – Clarissa, the ill-fated wife who, against much of the thinking of the times, takes her place in the business workplace; Beth, the decisive lover who pursues what she wants and will not be bullied by her unsatisfactory and controlling husband. As well we have Maureen’s gentleness; Moira’s guiding and caring hand, Colleen’s courage. Other women receive harsher judgement for their prejudice and malicious gossiping.
On one level we can read the story as a ripping yarn, a rise and fall saga of a satisfyingly flawed main character. On another, we can gain insight into the way our young nation set on its path, developed and grew, on the way that wealth acts as a two-edged sword and class a barrier and a goad to rise above circumstances.
Michael Beashel has already published the third of these Sandstone books, a story which follows a middle-aged Leary, and he tells us that he has others in the planning stages to make a solid John Leary saga. His obvious interest in, knowledge of and affection for both Leary and the construction industry will no doubt carry him through in this endeavour.
Information about the author at https://michaelbeashel.com.au/