London 1849. The capital city is living in fear. Cholera is everywhere. Eminent MP Sir Charles Cooper decides it is too risky for his younger daughter, the strangely beautiful and troubled Harriet, and sends her – but not her beloved sister Mary – to the countryside.
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Rusholme is a world away from London, full of extraordinary relations: Harriet's cousin Edward and his plans for a new life in New Zealand; Aunt Lucretia, reliant on afternoon wine and laudanum; the formidable Lady Kingdom and her two eligible, unobtainable sons. However, life in the country can offer only temporary respite to Harriet, who longs to return to her sister.
But when Harriet does come home, London has become more dangerous than ever. Her health, her freedom – even her sanity – are under threat. Escape is essential. Can a young, powerless girl change her life? Can she board the Amaryllis without being discovered? Does she realize that if she flees, more than one person will pursue her, literally to the end of the world?
Barbara Ewing's The Trespass is historical fiction at its most gripping, stretching from the dark side of Victorian London to the optimism and energy of the early New Zealand settlements.