This is a worthy addition to Fiona McIntosh’s historical romance-adventure books.
Set in the 1800s, The Diamond Hunter sees us travel from the wild west of the diamond mines of South Africa to the genteel parlours of London. The beginning of the book is somewhat traumatic, as it begins with Louisa, the mother of our main character Clementine, detailing her dying thoughts as she lays in their poor mining camp house. Persist, as it does get easier to read and the story slowly grips you as it winds its way along Charlotte’s life.
Louisa was from a rich family and married James against their wishes as he was poor and “not one of them”. James was determined to give Louisa the life he thought she deserved and believed that he could strike it rich in Africa. The sad irony was that he did – right at the same moment as Louisa died from malaria.
Clementine is cared for most of the time after this by their Zulu companion, Joseph One-Shoe. Meanwhile, Clementine’s uncle, Reggie, has done a deal with Clementine’s grandmother to bring her back to the family home in England, whether James likes it or not.
Clementine does return to the ancestral home and grows up there, indulged but wayward, intelligent and determined to learn and to help whoever she can. Eventually, her memories are triggered – what did happen to Joseph One-Shoe? Was there a diamond? What happened in the diamond mines of Africa when she was a child?
While some of the story may seem familiar, the characters are intriguing in that they are not total stereotypes of the usual historical romance/mystery genre. Even the “villain” of the piece, Reggie, has shades of grey and Clementine herself has unlikeable moments.
This is a worthy addition to Fiona McIntosh’s historical romance/ adventure books, though she has also written a number of fantasy books as well as crime, non-fiction and children’s books. Born in England, she now calls South Australia her home, so we may now be able to claim her as one of our own.
Reviewed by Michelle Baylis
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: November 2019
RRP: $32.99 trade paperback
- Visit Fiona McIntosh’s website