Gallimore is a family saga that digs into the roots of a family tree. Opening in 1765 London, after Gemma and her young son are caught pick-pocketing, they’re sent as prisoners to Australia, leaving behind a brother with no clues as to their fate. The pair arrive in Sydney and are assigned to serve the home of a wealthy widower. Meanwhile back in London, Claude de Garamonde is hoping for an heir being the last of his line. Instead, his wife gives birth to a girl, Emmaline. Five years later, his wife abandons them setting off a downward spiral for the wealthy family. As years pass and a new century dawns, fortunes change, and fates entwine two vastly different families.
While many poor and unsavory characters have a pronounced accent, saying things like “Allus fancied meself in a posh weskit!”, the main characters do not. As Gemma and her brother Isaac live in poverty most of their lives, it is odd that they also don’t have a distinctive lilt to their dialogue. The book starts us off with Gemma and her brother, but then shifts to the de Garamonde family after 45 pages. There we stay for quite a while without obvious ties to the first story thread. It develops slowly, but patience is rewarded as Cobb delicately ties intricate threads together. The early establishment of New South Wales and the Victorian gold rush are explored with glorious depth. It’s a beautiful and deadly landscape coupled with an emotional family drama. A well-researched tale enriched by lovely prose.