A Dangerous Crossing
by Rachel Rhys
Thursday, December 1, 2022
My reading mojo has gone missing in the last few weeks and I was after an engaging read to get it back into order. This nearly fitted the bill.
It’s the story of a young English woman, Lily, who is journeying to Australia on the eve of the second world war in 1939. She’s going on an assisted passage scheme, a cheap voyage in exchange for working as domestic help for a well-off British family once she gets there. The journey sees her mixing and befriending various passengers in her own class, tourist class, otherwise known as second. And she is also taken under the wing of a couple from first class who seem to have secrets of their own. And in another interesting thread she strikes up a friendship with another girl her own age who is an Austrian Jew who is escaping the Nazis, and we see how the mixed origins of the passengers on the ship turn prejudices into tensions as the war comes closer. I was expecting it more romance, and so was Lily, pretty much, and the ins and outs of relationships across class boundaries are one of the features of the book.
There’s lots of undercurrents to the story and I wasn’t sure whether they were all going to be resolved by the end of the voyage, but I was happy with things by the end of the book. I guessed what was the problem in one of the scenarios and was misled by a several others, which is all good by me. It wasn’t a mystery although it had its mysteries. I think my only real problem with the book was that I found the pacing a bit off at times. To me it felt like the beginning of the book set up a lot of questions and then there was a long part where everyone just ambled about before the story picked up again about half way through and we started seeing some things resolved and the questions started to be answered.
All in all, an interesting and entertaining read that ticks a lot of boxes on things I’m interested in. It just didn’t quite land for me as well as I wanted it to but I’d read the author again.