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March 02 , 2009

The Escape of the Notorious Sir William Heans

(And the mystery of M. Daunt)


William Gosse Hay

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For those who have trouble letting go, for those who struggle to reconcile themselves to life’s brokeness, here is a delightful, inspiring, liberating guide to spiritual and psychological wellness and serenity!

The Escape of the Notorious Sir William Heans is a historical romance focused on Tasmania in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Its protagonist, an Irish baronet who has been transported for abduction, is befriended by a distant cousin, Matilda Hyde-Shaxton, and her husband. Despite his privileges as a gentleman convict and the efforts of the Hyde-Shaxtons to assist him, the proud Heans feels his reduced position in society keenly, frequents tavern society and plans to escape on board a ship he has purchased. He enlists the assistance of Matilda, with whom he has fallen in love, but although Matilda acts as a go-between before the escape is attempted, she refuses Heans's entreaty that she elope with him. Their conversation is overheard both by Captain Paul Hyde-Shaxton and by Heans's nemesis, the penal official Mr Daunt, whose own attachment to Matilda is one of the reasons for his relentless surveillance of the baronet.

This is an elaborately patterned, carefully written novel, influenced by Walter Scott in its exploration of the romance of the past, reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne in its exploration of Heans's fall and regeneration.

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