The week before Christmas, 1929, Eoghan O'Keenan loses his factory job, and has to flee the slums of Chippendale with his seven-year-old sister Agnes. On the north side of Sydney at Lavender Bay, Olivia Greene is working on her latest millinery creations and dreaming of becoming the next Coco Chanel.
A job on the Harbour Bridge for Eoghan, designing couture for the Governor's wife for Olivia, and a chance meeting in the Botanic Gardens sees the beginning of an unconventional romance. From vastly different backgrounds, with absolutely nothing in common - from faith to wealth and class - it seems that the blue mile of harbour between Olivia and Eoghan will be the least of the obstacles ahead.
By mid-1932, as the construction of the Bridge is completed, the city is in chaos as the Great Depression begins to bite hard and the unemployed edge ever closer to a violent revolt. And then Eoghan disappears.
Set against the spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour, The Blue Mile is a tale of the both wild and calculated risks a city took to build a wonder of the world, and of those taken by ordinary people to save a great love, against all of the odds.
I borrowed the audio book of The Blue Mile from my local library. I was looking for material to give me a ‘feel’ for Sydney during the Great Depression as research for my current book. Although it is a fictional story line the backdrop of hardship, politics of the day and the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge are based on facts.
The reason I chose the audio book was to make use of my time driving to and from work – trying to cram in as much research as possible.
I was already fairly familiar with the history of the time but still learnt a great deal. As insight into the era and the building of a major landmark it is accurate and absorbing. The Sydney Harbour is itself a link between the two characters. It provides work for Eoghan when finding a job was difficult and inspiration for Olivia’s fashion designs.
The blue mile refers to the stretch of water in Sydney Harbour between the suburbs where the two characters, Eoghan O Keenan and Olivia Greene, live. A world apart in relation to background, financial security and class.
As a love story, it is enchanting. The characters are believable and, although they come from different class backgrounds, are well matched. Little Agnes is a delightful child who has a very grown up attitude to life.
The audio book is narrated by and