Beatrice's Commonsensical Approach
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Two women stepped from the steamship Orient onto Australian soil on a hot December day in 1879. Beatrice Beauchamp epitomises the younger middle-class English woman settler unused to the unpleasant. Yet she combats tragedy, and meets challenge and difference with a level of equanimity not commonly expected from one with a genteel upbringing. We share her despair and her fears as from the first day she must call on a personal strength and resolve previously untested. In that, she finds a staunch supporter in Mary Lee. Mrs Mary Lee has been written into many history books. Her political conviction, dedication and determination in campaigning for women's rights led to her being acknowledged by Premier Kingston as most influential in gaining South Australian women the right to vote and not only that, to take a seat in Parliament. Other states followed suit. Yet, despite all her achievements, little has been known of her personal life... Elizabeth Mansutti, former Chairperson of the SA Writers' Centre, local historian, author, poet, playwright and author of Mary Lee - Let her name be honoured, which inspired this novel, writes, 'Mary Lee was described by a contemporary as "fiery". I suspect that in Beatrice she found an acquaintance of similar ilk, and by framing that partnership in this story the author creates the vehicle for satisfying our curiosity about Mary Lee and her significant social contribution. I think it a clever move that is complemented by the finely drawn descriptions of the colonial society of that period.'