‘You don’t want to be digging there,’ Ma says like he can hear her. No one can hear her, just us boys.
We’re the dead Finnegans – Ma, Thomas, Ben and me.
Ten-year-old John Finnegan can’t leave his garden. Ever since they were murdered he, his brothers and his ma have been stuck there,
caught between the worlds of the living and the dead. Unseen and unnoticed, he watches the events after his life unfold –
including the actions of his murderer.
James Stack is born dirt-poor on an Irish tenant farm and the great famine shadows his childhood. But his clever sister’s lace making may save the family – until Aileen is sent to the other side of the world on a convict ship. To save her, James joins the redcoats and follows her across dangerous waters to a hopeful new land. But can he ever leave the death and hunger of his homeland behind?
From Ireland, to Australia, to New Zealand, Purgatory explores colonisation of both Ireland and New Zealand, the Waikato Wars, settlement of the 65th regiment as well as the Fencible soldiers and their families, transportation of criminals from Europe, the Irish potato famine, Irish Catholic religion, Irish superstition and mythology, Maori mythology, and murder in the early years of European settlement in New Zealand.
“Rosetta Allan’s debut novel ‘Purgatory’ is one of those books that draws you into its exquisitely crafted, atmospheric and entirely believable world within the first couple of pages.” Tanya Allport, Booklovers, June 2014.
“[One of her strengths] is the characterisation, accomplished with a talent for capturing quirks of human behaviour, movement and appearance, along with an acute ear for dialogue, effort that isn’t spared even for minor characters.”
John McCrystal, Canvas Magazine, Weekend Herald, June 2014.
"The book is beautifully haunting and an informative view into New Zealand in the 1860’s." Nikki Crutchley, Canvas Magazine, Weekend Herald, September 2020.