Imagine finding an ancient stage photo of a young singer 'Miss Zenna
Dare' and wondering if it's your great-great-great-grandmother's face
smiling out at you.
When Jenefer moves to the old family home in country Kapunda, she uncovers a secret from the past. What sort of life did Gweniver, her great-great-great-grandmother, lead? And what connection did she have with Zenna Dare?
Could a nineteenth-century mother of nine have led a double life and, if so, why?
At her new school Jenefer makes a friend, Caleb, an aboriginal, and even though they share the same contemporary culture, she wishes she could have a cultural background, to know who she really is, as Caleb seems to.
With Caleb's help Jenefer unravels her mystery and discovers much more than a family secret. In a story crossing five generations, from Cornwall, the old world, to South Australia in the new, Zenna Dare brings reconciliation in more ways than Jenefer could ever have imagined.
"This accomplished novel parallels a 19th century and a contemporary love
story, and canvases racism, reconciliation and the power of
forgiveness. Jenefer resents being relocated to her family's ancestral
home at Kapunda, but her imagination is caught by a model cottage that
houses all the elements of a family mystery, and her heart by Caleb, a
poised, perceptive Aboriginal classmate. This richly textured tale of
family relationships and changing morality across two centuries is both
enthralling and thought-provoking."
- Katherine England, Advertiser, Sept 14, 2002.
"Zenna Dare is an accomplished study of reconciliation across generations"
"So who is Zenna Dare? Read the novel for yourself. You won't be disappointed."
Excerpt from an article about 'Zenna Dare'
By Katharine England
"…With 'Zenna Dare', Hawke has found a relaxed, natural voice and a suppleness of line which allows the reader to take the prose vehicle for granted and simply enjoy the company of a cast of engaging and well-drawn characters as they explore family history and learn more about themselves, the world and each other.
…What Hawke is doing in microcosm in this engaging and thoughtful teenage approach to reconciliation is much the same as Alex miller has done on a larger canvas in his Miles Franklin Award winning 'Journey to the Stone Country'. It is a great shame that through miscalculation or misadventure of one kind or another 'Zenna Dare' was not able to be considered in its comparable youth literature competition, the Children's Book Council of Australia's Book of the Year Awards. "
- Read the full article in Viewpoint 11 (3) Spring 2003 p.38-39