'Two days before Christmas 1847, as the potato famine deepens, teenager, Jane Bell with her destitute mother and two starving siblings enter the Lowtherstown workhouse in Northern Ireland. Early the next year Jane accepts a place as one of hundreds of female orphans sent to the colony of South Australia a decade after its foundation; never to see her family again. She forges friendships with other girls her age and together they face hardships on the voyage to Adelaide. On disembarking, Jane works as a domestic servant for George Kingston, a prominent South Australian businessman and politician. Her friends reject domestic life for the more lucrative earnings in prostitution.
'Jane develops a relationship with Samuel Macartney, a handsome labourer, but also reluctantly finds herself Kingston’s concubine after the death of his wife. Inevitably she becomes pregnant, but does not know who fathered the child.
Jane’s story is one of alternating failures and successes, portraying her adaptability, courage and energy. Stubbornly resourceful and resilient, this young Irish woman’s story is of endurance despite unimagined hardship and deprivation in two vastly contrasting countries. Her life is a tribute to her inner strength and survival instincts, one among many young women who built new lives in Adelaide, Mitcham and Coromandel Valley, and helped establish a thriving community.' (Publisher's blurb)