Storm Clouds Over Levuka by Margaret Gilbert
Storm Clouds Over Levuka opens with terrible violence. Charlotte Swann and her husband Richard have arrived in Levuka, Fiji’s capital in the 1860s, when he is brutally murdered the day after their arrival, on the street in front of her. Traumatised and overcome by grief, she can’t believe her husband of only a year has been so brutally taken from her, especially when they had such high hopes for their lives in Fiji. Charlotte decides to stay on in Fiji, feeling she has nowhere else to go, and she manages to get work as a hotel cleaner to make ends meet. But this is a dangerous time to be in Fiji, even more so as a woman on her own, and the town is filled with many people who frighten her.
Time passes, and when she meets the British Consul, Gareth Murdoch, she is surprised to find feelings beginning to stir within her, feelings she thought she would never have again. Gareth has an estranged wife he hasn’t seen for three years, who refuses to divorce him, so it seems their relationship can’t go anywhere. And then the estranged wife turns up in Fiji, pregnant by another man, and demands a reconciliation, to make matters even worse.
Storm Clouds Over Levuka is page-turning historical fiction with lots of romance and intrigue. The author Margaret Gilbert was born in Fiji and lived there until she was twenty-one, so she certainly captures very well the feeling of this tropical island paradise, but she has obviously done much research and she succeeds in transporting the reader back to the lawlessness of the 1860s. Storm Clouds Over Levuka is an easy, engaging read for a lazy afternoon.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Copy Press Books, RRP $30.00