Author(s): Patricia Charlotte Dennis
AT 19 YEARS OLD SHE PARTIED WITH LONDON SOCIETY, STRUCK GOLD IN CALIFORNIA, AND FOUGHT TRAGEDY, DESTITUTION AND DANGER TO CARVE A FUTURE IN PIONEER NEW ZEALAND. IT WAS 1847, AND THIS IS HER TRUE TEENAGE LIFE STORY... If you think today's teens have it tough, spare a thought for Charlotte Gatland: "Washing day. I rather enjoy it. The huge copper seething and boiling. The clouds of steam and the smell of the soap. The white linen taken out with a stick and slopped into the first of the four wooden tubs. Rinsed in the following two and, lastly, steeped in the blue water..." Rediscover history unfolding through the eyes of a British officer's daughter in 1847: "We have chosen a book by a new author, one Currer Bell. It has created quite a storm and has been harshly criticised by some for its outspoken love scenes. Papa read it first, and can see nothing to object in it. He has given us permission to read it. So far I have not come up to the love scenes but am alive with expectation. It is called "Jane Eyre" and is enthralling..." Until the day her father's regiment is posted to a land far away: "Papa has just informed us he is taking all of us, the whole family, to New Zealand. A tiny island at the utmost end of the earth. It is the last outpost of Empire, and only a handful of white people live there amongst hordes of cannibals. What is worse, much worse, we are going there permanently and that means forever. I cannot write more as tears are blotting the page. Poor Mama..." Be there as she discovers the spirit of New Zealand: "The dance itself was amazing, at least ten men to every girl...Two of the prettiest girls there were Maoris and they had a constant stream of admirers around them. Already, I have been told, a few mixed marriages have taken place. One cannot blame the men, for the women are indeed attractive. There seems very little of the marked class distinction of the Old Country. Each person is evaluated on their behaviour...England seems very far away now, almost a dream..."