The Wānaka App
The Wānaka App
It's Your Place
The Wānaka App

Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant (Choosing your next chapter - blog)

The Wānaka App

The Next Chapter

09 March 2023, 10:00 PM

Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant (Choosing your next chapter - blog)

I love to read New Zealand fiction and Mrs Jewell was a firm favourite last year.

Author Cris Sanders takes the true story of the 1866 shipwreck of the General Grant and turns the fate of 15 passengers who survive the wreck into a riveting yarn.

The General Grant was a three-masted sailing ship on its way from Melbourne to London. Among the 83 passengers were women, children and miners with gold from the diggings hidden in their luggage, pockets and hems. In the fog and the dark the ship runs into cliffs of the sub-Antarctic Auckland Islands, is sucked into a cave and wrecked. 

The scene is horrific - it’s dark and cold, adults and children are panicking, people jump or are thrown into the ocean, gold weighs them down, there's no time for lifeboats, and many just disappear under the water.

Just 14 men and one woman (our narrator - Mrs Jewell) survive. They find themselves on a desolate island with nothing but the sodden clothes they are wearing.

Cris takes the reader on an extraordinary adventure with the survivors as they struggle to stay alive, hoping desperately that one day rescue might come.

The book is an engrossing read from start to finish. The characters endure terrible hunger and cold, escalating tensions and extraordinary hardships . There is fear, courage, bravery, love, hatred and horror.

Not knowing how long they will be there, if they will ever be rescued, and if they can survive are all very real throughout the novel.

I have recommended this book to a wide variety of readers and they have all been captivated. 

And this week Mrs Jewell and the Wreck of the General Grant has been shortlisted in the 2023 Ockhams for the fiction prize. Well deserved.

Caroline Harker.