A Noble Place by Anne Brear
A Noble Place is set mostly in Berrima and surrounding district of the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.
Australia 1850. Phillippa Noble, strong minded, spirited and adventurous, urges and encourages her
parents and her twin to emigrate to the distant land of Australia to begin again. In a new country they can
put their tainted past behind them, and Pippa can forget the unrequited love she felt for a distant cousin.
Pippa blossoms in the new country and is determined that their horse stud will be the finest in the land.
However, circumstances ensure that not all is golden. For every success, she has to bear up under the
challenges of bushfire, death, the return of an old love and danger on the goldfields. Her strength is tested
as she tries to find the right path to happiness, but it is the near loss of her dearest friend that makes her
realise true contentment rests within her grasp and she must not let it go.
The sharp scent of eucalyptus permeated the air and Pippa sniffed deeply, wondrously. At intervals, trees
thick with blooms of yellow, which she knew to be called wattles, punctuated the grey-green landscape and
gum trees let their little blooms of red dance in the breeze. She jerked suddenly as a low branch jagged at
her skirt. Her father helped to extricate the material and when her petticoat's lace hem tore, she cared little. Nothing and no one could spoil this day.
Gerald grimaced at the ruined fabric. "˜You should not have come, my dear."
"˜Nonsense, Father." Pippa grinned. "A little hardship strengthens character."
"Mr Noble." Robson gestured to a large eucalyptus trunk. The surveyor's initials were cut deep into the bark.
Gerald consulted his maps. "This ridge ends another ten yards further on."
Pippa hurried the remaining distance, nearly tripping in her haste. She stepped beyond a large tree and
stopped. Below, bathed in golden glory, lay their valley. Tingles of excitement mixed with reverent joy
sucked her breath away. She scanned the horizon of rugged hills and then gazed down at the inviting valley. It was everything she'd dreamed of and more because it was real. "It's perfect."
"How in God's name are we to get down there with the wagon?" Robson mumbled, breaking her spell of
wonder. He walked closer to the edge and peered down at the jagged outcrops of rocks and boulders that
broke up the density of the trees.
Gerald took off his hat and wiped his sweating forehead with a handkerchief. "Maybe further along there is
an easier route down."
They walked on for another hundred yards before finding another tree with the surveyor's initials marked in it
and also an arrow scratched next to them. Robson pointed to a gentler slope and a roughly cut track
snaking through the trees and scrub. "If the surveyor went down there, then that must be the easiest way."
He frowned. "I wonder if he took transports."
"Likely packhorses." Gerald studied his maps again.
Pippa walked to the edge of the slope. She paused to gauge the steepness and then reached for a nearby
sapling to keep her steady as she edged her way down.
Her father's shout made her stop and glance back. "It's all right, Father. Hold on to the trees."
Robson and Gerald hurried towards her and gingerly made their way down to her side. Gerald gripped her
arm. "You are too headstrong. It was a foolish thing to do."
She tossed her head. "I wasn't going to be left behind."
"You'll be the death of me, girl," Gerald panted and wiped his forehead again.
As they concentrated on getting safely to the bottom, the sounds of the bush intensified. An unseen bird
made the sound of a whiplash cutting the air, flies buzzed, twigs snapped underfoot and small lizards
slithered over rocks.
The track brought them out on the left side of the valley. At the bottom, the trees and scrub thinned out to
grassy plains. Emerging out of the shade, the heat intensified. Pippa wished she had brought her parasol
with her, but had left it in the gig so she could hold her skirts up with both hands. Sweat trickled inside her
collar and dampened her bonnet. She licked her dry lips. "Is there water close by?"
"Here, miss, I have water with me." Robson handed her a leather-bound canteen.
"Thank you." She stopped to drink and chuckled as the cool and pleasant water trickled down her chin.
Drinking from a canteen was an art she had not yet mastered.
"Do you see that thin line of gum trees in the middle over there?" Robson pointed in front of them.
Pippa studied the ragged thin line and nodded.
"Those trees edge the creek bank." He turned to Gerald. "Do you see that flat rise to the right of the creek
bend, Mr Noble?"
"Aye, lad, I do."
Robson smiled. "I think it would make an ideal homestead site."
Gerald slapped Robson on the shoulder. "I think you may be right, my man."
Pippa hesitated as the two men walked on. She slowly turned a full circle, taking in the broad sweep of the
valley. Acres of waist-high brown grass rippled in the infinite breeze like a long slow wave on a lazy sea.
She strolled on, enjoying the feeling of walking on her own land. She now understood the power it gave men
and why they did almost anything to acquire property. They broke their backs trying to keep it viable in the
hard times and, in good times, they looked to buy more.
The intensity of her feelings was frightening. Her land. Her future.
Anne Whitfield has written a wonderful saga of passion, promise and survival featuring a strong and valiant
heroine who is in the same league as Catherine Cookson's Tilly Trotter and Barbara Taylor Bradford's
Emma Harte in A Woman of Substance. Courageous and independent, Pippa Noble is a heroine readers
will admire, cheer for and hope to emulate.
With its spellbinding blend of romance, heartbreak, passion and drama, A Noble Place is the perfect book
to curl up with on a cold autumn night. Don't miss it!
Review by Julie for SingleTitles.com
Buy now for Kindle!