Environmental romance author Jennifer Scoullar has set her latest novel in historical Tasmania. When we chat, Jennifer tells me ‘it’s a project she has been keen on for a long time’. She adds ‘there is something iconic about Tasmania and its strong investment in the wilderness’. During the writing of the book she made several trips down to Tassie, a trip she always enjoys.
An interesting aspect of this book is Jennifer letting us inside the thoughts of a Tasmanian tiger called Coorina. We see events from Coorina’s point of view. In fact animals are given a strong presence in the book as a whole and in some cases have more humane characteristics than some of the human characters.
The books main protagonist Luke Tyler, a young man with a seemingly dream future which falls to pieces when he attempts to avenge his sister’s honour by confronting her assaulter, a well - respected man of the community. For his intervention Luke is sent to a prison farm in the highlands of Tasmania for over a decade.
Not willing to spend such a long time in gaol he escapes and is able to find safety and protection from Daniel Campbell, an environmentalist. Jennifer says Daniel’s character is based on the life of, Rev Henry Dresser Atkinson one of the first Tasmanian environmentalists in the early days of the colony. Luke begins a romance with Campbell’s daughter before the authorities find him again and he must run. This time he goes further afield to South Africa where he continues his interest in animal conservation and starts an animal reserve. Achieving fame in his field he has an opportunity to revisit his Tasmanian homeland as a respected conservationist and in doing so reacquaints himself with both old friends and also confronts old enemies.
Fortune’s son is out now published by Penguin Books.