Sanctuaryby Published 16 Oct 2017
|Publisher||PenguinRandom House AU|
In Judy Nunn’s latest compelling novel, compassion meets bigotry, hatred meets love, and ultimately despair meets hope on the windswept shores of Australia.
On a barren island off the coast of Western Australia, a rickety wooden dinghy runs aground. Aboard are nine people who have no idea where they are. Strangers before the violent storm that tore their vessel apart, the instinct to survive has seen them bond during their days adrift on a vast and merciless ocean.
Fate has cast them ashore with only one thing in common . . . fear. Rassen the doctor, Massoud the student, the child Hamid and the others all fear for their lives. But in their midst is Jalila, who appears to fear nothing. The beautiful young Yazidi woman is a mystery to them all.
While they remain undiscovered on the deserted island, they dare to dream of a new life . . .
But forty kilometres away on the mainland lies the tiny fishing port of Shoalhaven. Here everyone knows everyone, and everyone has their place. In Shoalhaven things never change.
Until now . . .
Judy Nunn has the knack of writing incredible sagas that are Australian based, and I am very grateful for that.
This particular story concerns a group of refugees who find themselves on a tiny island off the Coast of Western Australia. They are befriended by a man and his grandson, and the man happens to have been a migrant to Australia some decades earlier so he has a better understanding than some how hard it is to be in a strange land with everything so different to where you came from.
The refugees come from a variety of countries and backgrounds, and the author explains how they came to be refugees in the first place. As there are many refugees from the Middle East all over the world right now, I found it very interesting reading a fictional account of these particular ones, as it could so easily be true. I guess I haven't given the issue enough thought, so reading about their backstories really made me think. If I have one little niggle about this book, is that I wanted it to continue after it ended!
I really loved this book and if there is a sequel written to it, I will be first in line to buy it!
4.5★ The cover of this book freaked me out a little - I don’t think I’d like to be on a jetty this long without railings and the top of the water so close to it…! The water looks calm, but still...
But the book itself was fantastic - I loved the story of a group of illegal immigrants - refugees from different situations - who had come together on a dodgy boat which washed up on the island. I loved reading about the “now” story and what happened on the island, and what happened before to get the disparate group of people together.
I just went to hear Judy Nunn speak yesterday evening, she was in conversation with Frances Whiting, and it was a wonderful evening - she is a great speaker as well as a great author.
She spoke about making the unbelievable believable - where she was referring to the unlikely possibility of a little vessel being able to navigate the dangerous Abrolhos Islands, with all their treacherous reefs, to be able to make it safely to land - as did a vessel with about 60 boatpeople that landed in Geraldton several years ago, and which makes her story a believable possibilty. What I found was less believable was the rapid improvement in one of the refugees who had lived through some unspeakable events.
But despite that, it was a fantastic story to read - and kept me guessing throughout how it was going to end up!
The timing of Sanctuary, the 14th novel from trusted Australian author Judy Nunn, is spot on. Who better to shine a light on the plight of illegal immigrants who enter Australia’s shores and the policies our nation has worked around this hot topic, than master storyteller, Judy Nunn. Sanctuary is a novel that works to break down our barriers or preconceived notions of refugees, offering a tale of hope, compassion and understanding.
Sanctuary is situated in Western Australia, based around a fictional small fishing area and island in the area of Geraldton. It is based around the events that transpire when an unseaworthy dingy fights a storm on its way to Australia’s shores. On board are nine refugees, from different countries, cultures and religions, but all wish to seek sanctuary in Australia. The storm wrecks their vessel apart and barely alive, the troop of nine make it to the shores of an island filled with abandoned fishing huts. The group decide to stay put and try to remain hidden on this deserted island. When a local fisherman makes a startling discovery, he changes the fate of the refugees on the island and the community of Shoalhaven, the nearest mainland fishing port.
Judy Nunn is up there amongst my favourite Australian authors. She never ceases to amaze me with her storytelling skills, they are quite remarkable! Nunn has a knack for piecing together elements of our nation’s history, the fabric of our nation – its people and unique settings and placing them on the pages of an engrossing novel. I would say Sanctuary is a novel that is a slight departure from Nunn’s usual style of novel. It is a very contemporary tale and a book that I feel has a story that needs to be told.
Sanctuary has some powerful themes and narrative elements. Ultimately, is a very relevant and fresh study of Australia’s refugee status issue and the policies currently enacted in our country. It is a book that works to break down our constructions and prejudices. By the conclusion of this novel I felt like Nunn had opened my eyes to a whole new view of refugees. Her stance is clear, it is compassionate and is clearly in support of refugees. It is a book that presents refugees in a sympathetic light, to view them as people in their own right, with their own unique, but often tragic back stories.
Nunn has an aptitude for developing well shaped characters. There are quite a few players in this text, but Nunn captures the spirit of each and every character that appears in Sanctuary. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about each refugee that landed on the island, their skills, tragic past and hopes for the future. I also enjoyed getting to know the locals from Shoalhaven such as Lou, Paul and Bev. These strikingly ordinary figures reminded me that acceptance, compassion and the very best of the human spirit exists.
The sense of place is incredibly rich in this novel. Although Shoalhaven and the island of Gevaar are fictional, I still derived a strong sense of place from these authentic locales. I have visited the area of Geraldton, roughly in the same area of which this novel settles itself. As a WA girl, like the author Judy Nunn, I felt Nunn captured the essence and the windswept feel of this area very well indeed.
Underneath the strong themes of this novel is an underlying thread of hope and love. In addition, there is a romantic sub plot involving the most tragic face of this group of refugees, a beautiful woman named Jalila. This passionate and realistic love story managed to get under my skin. I dared to dream that there would be hope for this couple, their future and the refugees. Nunn leaves this aspect of the story open to interpretation.
My final word on Sanctuary is to give Judy Nunn the recognition she deserves in the attention to finite detail contained in her well researched novel. I know from listening to Nunn speak some years ago at an author event that each book she writes takes a two year cycle. Much of this time is dedicated to honing in on her main subject matter. The level of research directed to Sanctuary is faultless and is evidenced in the ‘Acknowledgements’ section of the novel, which I encourage you to read.
Sanctuary is a novel that may work to divide some, or educate the reader on an extremely topical issue across our nation and the world, the plight of refugees seeking asylum. It is a tough and emotionally fraught topic, but Nunn takes it in her stride, presenting her audience with a book that reaches deep into the soul of humanity, revealing hope can come from utter despair.
Sanctuary is book #62 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge
When nine refugees are stranded together in a tiny dinghy they have no idea where they are or if they will make it. After being adrift at sea for many days they run aground near a small island. Unfortunately the Island is deserted and these nine strangers now fear for their lives more than ever. Will they all or survive or is it too late?
Aussie author Judy Nunn has written a truly wonderful tale of hope and survival. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.
I'm clearly in a minority here but I found this book disappointing and unfulfilled. A group of refugees is cast aground on an Australian island and the individuals are introduced to the reader, some of them in depth, only for them to virtually disappear from the story as the main plot takes over. The first part of the book takes place on the island but the action then moves to the mainland and these people whose stories we have shared are hardly mentioned again. I found this very disjointed and couldn't see why the author had given us such detail about the lives of characters who no longer featured in the work. It felt to me that large parts of the text had been deleted.
Although the premise of the book was interesting - the rights and treatment of refugees - I felt that it was handled very simplistically and at times found it hard to believe what I was reading. Some of the refugees' interactions with the Australian men didn't ring true considering the formers' background and Jalila's relationship with Paul was unconvincing. I was intrigued as to how the author was going to end this book and so was very disappointed when she didn't! (Unless there is a follow-up book?) I wouldn't recommend this novel because of its lack of depth and fragmented nature.