Speaking the Truth Through Love: Historical Life and Faith in the Gumdigger’s Wife
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The Gumdigger’s Wife is a work of historical fiction, set in the early twentieth century at the peak of the kauri gum industry in New Zealand. Emmalina, a letter bride from Dalmatia, and Johan, a gumdigging migrant from the same country, enter an arranged marriage under personal circumstances which cast doubt over their relationship’s chance of success. Their story and struggle could be summarized in the following question: can a marriage built on obligation, secrecy and distrust be pieced together? The Gumdigger’s Wife is about the journey of the characters to find that answer. As well as considering the discrimination against the Dalmatian race, this creative writing thesis focuses on issues of duplicity, forgiveness and the desire to atone for past wrongs. It is also about Emmalina’s journey of discovering the flawed, yet authentic and profound, love of another human being. The exegesis then comments on the process of writing such a work, particularly in terms of the genre in which I have chosen to write and how my personal beliefs have factored into the work. First I observe the genre of the historical novel and its concern of reflecting truth within fiction; then I consider the extent to which moral/religious influences can appear in a novel without becoming didacticism.