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 Cover Spirits of the Ghan

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Read the extract below from Spirits of the Ghan and fill out the form for your chance to win.

Jess took a deep breath and embarked upon the opening lines she’d rehearsed in her mind. ‘I have been told you are May Tjenimana and that you were May Napangurrayi before you married, is that right?’

May was surprised to hear the girl speak her language. The girl was black, certainly, but you could tell at a glance she was a city girl – smartly dressed, slick: she wasn’t one of them.

Yes, that is right,’ she replied. Confused though she was by the bluntness of the question, her response was nonetheless polite, for the girl’s tone had been respectful. ‘I am May Tjenimana and I was May Napangurrayi before I married.’ There was a pause as she waited for the girl to explain herself, but the girl, for all her initial confidence, seemed unsure of what to say next. ‘Who are you?’ She was still polite, but she stepped up the authority in her voice. ‘What do you want?’

Jess had rehearsed in her mind the next line too and she had no idea why it had become momentarily stuck. Now words came out clearly and boldly, but in a something of a rush, as if they had been imprisoned too long and needed to escape.

My name is Jessica Manning. I am the daughter of your sister, Rose.’

They stared at each other across the twenty metres or so of dusty yard that separated them. The scene remained frozen for what seemed to Jess an agonisingly long time as she waited for a reaction, but nothing was said, no movement was made. Then finally May, eyes still trained upon this stranger who professed to be kin, placed the T-shirt and pegs into the laundry basket her granddaughter Millie held and slowly, as if mesmerised, crossed to where Jess stood.




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Post Script: Spirits of The Ghan – Judy Nunn

Cover Spirits of the Ghan

Spirits of the Ghan

Judy Nunn


William Heinemann

ISBN: 9780857986733



Master storyteller Judy Nunn has now sold over 1 million books worldwide. In her spellbinding new bestseller she takes us on a breathtaking journey deep into the red heart of Australia.


It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End.


But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land.


Hired as a negotiator, Jessica Manning must walk a delicate line to reassure the Elders their sacred sites will be protected. Will her innate understanding of the spiritual landscape, rooted in her own Arunta heritage, win their trust? It’s not easy to keep the peace when Matthew Witherton and his survey team are quite literally blasting a rail corridor through the timeless land of the Never-Never.


When the paths of Jessica and Matthew finally cross, their respective cultures collide to reveal a mystery that demands attention. As they struggle against time to solve the puzzle, an ancient wrong is awakened and calls hauntingly across the vastness of the outback . . .



My View:

Australia has some great female authors and Judy Nunn is at the top of her field. Judy Nunn has a huge following and it is not difficult to understand why; her style of combining histories and the personal story are very affective. The narratives here share fictionalised historical based events of Australia’s colonial history and a fictionalised personal story of a child of The Stolen Generation (Rose’s story). The echoes of these stories impact and effect the contemporary narrative and the lives of the characters building the renowned remote railway track known as The Ghan Railway.


I enjoyed this style of writing, the histories, the settings, the characters. And even more I loved the spiritual element that plays a significant part in this narrative. I think this novel will play an important part in reintroducing the topic of the Stolen Generation to many readers. Judy Nunn introduces this emotional subject in her novel by the way of a very personal history; Rose’s experiences demonstrates the consequences of this policy. You cannot help but empathise with the plight of the individual and the generation affected. Kudos to Judy Nunn for tackling such a difficult issue and highlighting the damage that this policy continues to affect.



A combination of history, the personal, the outback and the mystical combine to make this an enjoyable and thought provoking read.