By Ruth Thomas
It’s a dilemma that young Jewish New Zealanders living in a very small community of those of the same faith know well: To marry the young man or woman of their choice, often meaning marrying “out” of the Jewish faith - or to go to Australia where the Jewish community is much larger and the choice of bride or groom is thus much greater.
And whether the year is 2017 or 1850, the dilemma, it appears, is the same.
Of particular interest in Auckland Jewish writer David Burke-Kennedy’s first novel, Legacy of Strangers, is the Jewish component. Sarah, who is the daughter of a wealthy Jewish businessman falls in love with Irish Catholic Jarlath. The illicit relationship keeps surfacing in spite of her parents’ attempts to marry her off to a nice Jewish boy in Australia.
If you are interested in New Zealand’s early history, Legacy of Strangers will be a must-read for you.
While most of the key characters are fictitious, their lives and events reflect the realities of 1838 to 1858 in Ireland, England, Australia and New Zealand.
Four strangers are forced to leave their homeland for a better life in the colonies. But as their paths cross, their lives become a whirlwind of violence, crime and prostitution, romance and betrayal, with disastrous and fatal outcomes.
Much is based on little-known true-life events and people including New Zealand Jewish personalities of the era - and builds to a surprising conclusion.
Author David Burke-Kennedy is an Australian-born New Zealander whose career spans over 40 years simultaneously in the news media as an award-winning broadcaster and journalist and as an advertising creative and writer.
This novel reflects his Jewish heritage and upbringing in Wellington as part of the Davis family who were well known in the community during the 20th century.