The Denniston RoseBook - 2006
The bleak coal-mining settlement of Denniston, isolated high on a plateau above New Zealand's West Coast, is a place that makes or breaks those who live there. At the time of this novel - the 1880s - the only way to reach the makeshift collection of huts, tents and saloons is to climb aboard an empty coal-wagon to be hauled 2000 feet up the terrifyingly steep Incline - the cable-haulage system that brings the coal down to the railway line. All sorts arrive here to work the mines and bring down the coal- ex-goldminers down on their luck; others running from the law, or from a woman, or worse. They work alongside recruited English miners, solid and skilled, who scorn these disorganised misfits and want them off the Hill.
Into this chaotic community come five-year-old Rose and her mother, riding up the Incline, at night, during a storm. No one knows what has driven them there, but most agree the mother must be desperate to choose Denniston; worse, to choose a drunkard, Jimmy Cork, as bedfellow. The mother has her reasons and her plans, which she tells no one. The indomitable Rose is left to fend for herself, struggling to secure a place in this tough and often aggressive community.
The Denniston Rose is about isolation and survival. It is the captivating story of a spirited child who, in appalling conditions, remains a survivor.