JANEEN O'CONNELL - Author: Review of The Promise of Tomorrow
I love the way Lynette moves between generations so seamlessly. She takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of one character and cleverly changes to the point of view of another as events change and years march on. We begin the adventure through the eyes of Edward Garth and his wife, Sarah as they leave Tasmania to make a new life in Gippsland in Victoria. As their lives transform, Lynette has their daughter Lil as the central character, and we see the world through her eyes.
What a ride!! This family puts one in mind of gypsies travelling around, seeming as if they don’t belong but enjoying the act of starting over. The author has researched her subject matter diligently.
Sarah Garth (nee Robertson) was an angel. How she put up with the itch that took hold of her husband Edward, every few years was remarkable. I didn’t like Edward, he annoyed me, he seemed to put his own desires for freedom and adventure, mingled with all his frantic money making schemes before his wife and family. But that is what makes Lynette’s storytelling so good, that I was able to become annoyed with some characters and to fall in love with others.
The loss of babies and children, the devastating effect that has on families, how Sarah and later her daughter, Lil were able to move on from those tragedies was one of the strengths of the story.
Lil certainly was a confused woman. Settling for George Stevenson was her biggest mistake, but he appeared a good choice at the time. I thought George was like Lil’s father, Edward Garth, in many ways: always chasing the elusive quick money, struggling to make ends meet to feed the family and facing bankruptcy, and moving his family to the ends of the earth to satisfy a whim. However, Edward was a much nicer person.
The descriptions of the landscapes, the towns and the cities brought the reader into the homes and lives of the characters that live in the pages.
This novel is a journey: through history, through the happiness and sadness experienced in families, the progress of relationships, the building of homes and businesses and the success and failures.
MARGARET ZANARDO - Society of Women Writers:
‘The Promise of Tomorrow’ is the third volume of Lynette McDermott’s ‘Garth Trilogy’, based on her family’s convict and pioneering history.
Following on from ‘Perseverance’, it spans the years 1872 to 1921 and narrates the progress of the third generation of Garths to be born in Australia. From an historical perspective, this is a particularly interesting ‘transitional’ period, as transportation ends and the colonies begin the journey towards their coming of age. These are both exciting and dangerous times.
We experience the story through the eyes of Laura Jane Lillias Garth — ‘Lil’ Garth — McDermott’s great-grandmother, a strong woman who is in many ways ahead of her time. Lil is a woman who accepts responsibility, suffers, endures, takes enormous risks, makes mistakes and starts again, to ultimately achieve a measure of security and peace, thus bringing hope for the next generation through her fearless confronting of life, head-on.
McDermott’s novel is a lively and convincing reimagining of late 19th century to early 20th century Australian life. She has deep empathy with her ancestor characters, whom she unashamedly depicts for worse as well as for better, with Lil’s frequent entries in her diary providing an effective insight into the thoughts and motivations of this complex central character. Sense of place is again strong in this third book. McDermott has visited most of the places described and her confident narrative style depicts both places and people through all five senses, thereby creating an immersive experience for the reader.
The novel encompasses the end of convict transportation, the tail end of the gold rushes, World War I, Federation and the first stirrings of nationalism, as well as the emergence of feminism.
Whilst these historical events are the backdrop to the continuing story of the Garths, what is particularly compelling is McDermott’s evocation of social change. ‘The Promise of Tomorrow’ depicts the conservative morals of a society still conscious of its convict origins, the growth of towns and cities, the effects of the Great War, and the struggles of women who bore children and did hard physical work, yet were still subservient to men in a distinctly patriarchal society.
I found this to be more than a capably written family history. It reads, for me, as an engrossing pioneering saga in its own right.
GRAEME BACKEN: The first book of The Garth Trilogy, ‘Of Angels and Eagles’, initially deals with three family members; Edward Garth, Susannah Gough and Jacob Bellett who found themselves as convicts on the First Fleet, having endured survival in London in the post industrial revolution and its class based legal system, the Courts, the hulks and their final transportation. Eight months in the confines of 18th century wooden ocean going vessels was not enough to break them. Indeed, Edward and Susannah impressed enough to be two of sixteen convicts selected with seven servicemen to travel to Norfolk Island within two weeks of arriving in Port Jackson, a few months later Jacob Bellett joined them.The expedition to Norfolk Island was to 'one up’ the French fleet and to establish an outpost to source masts and flax to make sailcloth for the British Naval fleet. Following arrival of the Second Fleet, Ann Harper became the fourth family member in the book as she was also sent to Norfolk Island. Marriage (Susannah/Edward and Jacob/Ann), children, hard work and Tickets of Leave follow as all four work laboriously to establish an outpost, an extension of the penal colony and a future for their families. What a dramatic contrast to what would have been in eighteenth century London.
Lynette has done an admirable job in developing depth, personality, emotion as life develops and 18th century hardships inevitably hit hard. Early in the 19th century England decides, with the opening of a penal settlement at Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land, that Norfolk Island should be abandoned. So in December 1807, Edward and Susannah Garth and their six children travel to Hobart on the HM Ship ‘Porpoise’. This is the start of a new life in Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) and the start of Lynette’s second book in the Trilogy -‘Perseverance’. Jacob and Ann Bellett and eight children arrive in VDL in October 1808 on the ‘City of Edinburgh’.
All four adults having achieved their freedom to became landowners on the Norfolk Island settlement. The forced move to VDL was done so with the promise of a contra amount of land being granted together with shelter and provisions to allow establishment of a makeshift ‘home' and encouragement of a farming existence. Not all promises were fulfilled. Life would not be easy. Clearing the virgin land, establishing crops, a new colony, bushrangers and smugglers, harsh official policy in dealing with the Indigenous population, illness and misfortune. All this as a backdrop to establishing a new life on both sides of the Derwent. A timber mill and boat building enterprise followed as Hobart expanded and Sorell/Pittwater together with the Huon Valley and Fleurieu region inviting settlement. Early 1800s in Van Diemen’s land was a challenge to all, so only the most resilient prospered.
Third Generation Edward Garth and wife Sarah were two of those resilient individuals. An adventurous spirit and desire for a new and improved existence witnesses them sail a Garth built wooden yacht northwards through the treacherous Bass Strait waters. So begins ‘The Promise of Tomorrow’. The third book is the culmination of a great Australian story. Sailing to and settling in the Gippsland Lakes district of Victoria, operating a shipping company from Port Albert at the gateway to the Omeo high country goldfields, sailing to and settling at Lake Macquarie in NSW, boat building, farming and supplying liquor to the rail workers as the line forges north beyond the Hawkesbury. Boat building, fishing, farming and life building and running pubs witnesses the ups and downs of early Australian exploration and settlement. Subsistence was overshadowed by success as eldest daughter, Lil was sent to a private school in Sydney’s Waverley.
Lil, as she transforms from child to young woman becomes the focus of book three and though the family are always present it is Lil and her diarising her inner thoughts that link the story’s progress. Edward Garth’s desire to search and discover the elusive pot of gold is a constant burden for wife Sarah and the family but it sets the scene and drives this historic journey which takes the family back to Victoria from Lake Macquarie. The Garth built Royal Standard Hotel at Toora near Wilson’s Promontory, still stands but it was not the answer. Lil marries but the family must move on again. An epic journey with two bullock, two horses and a carriage takes the entire family to gold mining centres of the Central West of NSW. Lil and husband George explore life in the upper Tweed River before returning to Wyalong in the central west and subsequently to the mid west as gold mining brings a thirsty populace requiring more pubs.
Childhood mortality remained a constant throughout the entirety of the Garth trilogy. For Lil, she must also tolerate George’s infidelity and his weakness for the drink. Federation day 1901, saw the celebration of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Australian Constitution proclamation with a mega event in Centennial Park, Sydney. It was another year before Lil, George and children moved to Sydney before a short Newcastle stint. Pubs were not the ideal environment for George to show his love and support to Lil and the family so, in 1906, divorce documents were filed by Lil.
Survival and family legal challenges intermingled with the First World War paint the picture of early twentieth century Sydney. Lil’s daughters lead directly both to Lynette McDermott’s connection and passionate need to tell this story and my indirect fascination with what is an unforgettable Australian chronicle. Pat or Paty, my mother in law-2nd paragraph above- was born in 1918 in Glebe and recorded in book three.
A series of stories to be read with a true reflection on an absolute pioneer family. I defy any reader not to be tearfully touched by this skilful author.
JOCK CAMPBELL: Review of The Garth Trilogy - ‘Lil felt something she had not felt for thirty years….the promise of tomorrow.’
Having just completed my reading of Book 3 in The Garth Trilogy, ‘The Promise of Tomorrow’, I feel compelled to write a review of this erstwhile tome. And my nature is that if you are going to take time to do that put some effort into it in respect for these people, their story and for their descendants who tell this tale and in doing so pass down ‘the account of their family evolution’ to subsequent generations.
To set the context I am not in any way, shape or form a person who would typically read a historical narrative of this type. It is foreign to me from the outset.
However, sometime ago whilst browsing books to gift family members & friends I happened upon a book (in what was to ultimately be a trilogy) by author LF McDermott. This was titled ‘Of Angels and Eagles’.
Because I was born in UK, and having become an Australian Citizen (by choice), I noticed this story about First Fleeters, their journey from Britain as Convict ‘stock’ to the Great South Land of Australia in the 1780’s.
*I am not a First Fleet descendant so I had no emotional link to these people (prior to my reading the book that is).
From the moment I read the prologue it beckoned me, simple as that!
‘In the 1700s in Great Britain four souls were born, four souls no more and no less important than any other. In the years that followed circumstance conspired to bring them all together, to an improbable location, as distant from their imaginations as the likelihood of inhabiting the moon or the stars.’
Then having received my copy from the minute I started reading it I literally could not put it down! And similarly I was like that for Book 2 ‘Perseverance’, and ultimately this most recent release.
It is summed up by me as a story of fate, adventure, of challenges, of trials and tribulations, opportunity, success and failure, tragedy and at times despair – but well written from a meld of what I understand is research, based on fact and empirical data, interpreted for the story to be told, yet expressed with love and admiration by a descendant of these people.
During the read not only was I invested in the story, and these people as the author has portrayed them, I felt I knew them so much so given my empathy with their journeys. LF McDermott has personified them to such an extent I understood them.
It feels to me such a real representation of life and discovery traversing a dynamic period in our history including First Fleet arrival, through settlement, upheaval, re-settlement, boom-bust era of prospecting, the Great War over the trilogy encapsulates life and times until as recently as the 1920’s. It was Australia’s veritable Wild, Wild West equivalent and more.
It has me gasping in both wonder and at times despair, has me pivoting from happy to sad, from smiling to crying. It crosses the gamut of my emotions in a story very well told.
These people, all of them, each generation had no idea of their future but they saw opportunity at every turn, if they didn’t see it they created it, took on the world as they knew it, grew families, made memories aplenty, and their descendants – every one of them – should be proud of their heritage.
Arty watched over her mother’s shoulder as she wrote in her journal: the dipping of the pen into the ink, the letters forming on the page, the quiet rhythm of her breathing. ‘What are you writing Mumma?’
And as Lil replaced the pen into the inkwell, she looked fondly at her daughter. ‘The stories of our lives…so far.’
A contemporary feel for a historical story, creating wonderful books – I will be waiting earnestly in hope that there may be more to come from this author. And that the story too will be continued by generations to come!
'I started and quickly finished “The Promise of Tomorrow.”
A fitting finish to your amazing Trilogy. From the very beginning until the end the Garth Trilogy was interesting, rivetting and very hard to put down.
You took me on a journey to places I have actually been, places like Wallsend ( I spent 10 years as finance and operations manager at the RSL - I had a coffee shop in Wallsend for 10 years- many of my grandmother's family lived there - all in the coal mining industry near Lake Macquarie. I also spent 6 years working at Raffertys Resort at Cams Wharf) And on it goes.
Extremely well written. The three books making up your story were so entertaining.
SHER KEARNEY: I just finished The Promise of Tomorrow. I loved it and it is so well written. I followed the adventures of 'Sarah' and her daughter 'Lil' with extreme interest and anticipation. Descriptions of places like the early Lake Macquarie were so interesting. A terrific read!
You certainly left the best till last! Really enjoyed the final book and read it over two nights. Must admit, it has left me wanting more... My definition of a good writer is whilst you are reading it, you can picture in your mind's eye the actual scene. Your book fulfilled all expectations and I hope there are one or two more books that will follow. Such a large family means there are plenty of stories just waiting to be told... Thank you so much for taking the time to put the Garth story into book form the way you have, That little bit of mixture really worked. So Congratulations on a great book!
KATHY MCRAE: I have finished reading your latest book. Well, I just had to keep reading as soon as I started, found it hard to put the book down. First of all, I thought it must have been very difficult to write about all the babies that hadn't had a chance of life, sadly one by one the sorrow for the families of losing them. Yes, times were difficult as we now know in hindsight, however, they still carried on with their lives. Now, there's got to be another book following!
Well, good on you and congratulations for writing another masterpiece of your family. They would be so proud!
JULIE ANDERSON: Lynette McDermott’s trilogy takes you on a roller coaster ride from 1783 – 1921. You live with the Garth family through happiness, despair, triumph, tragedy, love and loss as their adventures take them from the First Fleet to the aftermath of world war one. The characters spring from the pages and entwine you in their travels. These books are based on real people and events .... Once started, the trilogy almost dares you to stop reading... I couldn’t until sadly the last page appeared. I shall miss the Garth families and highly recommend the trilogy to all, particularly if you have ancestors from this time. Be prepared to be even more proud of their struggles ...