The Blurb (from Goodreads):
A luminous novel about love by an acclaimed rising star of Australian literature.
Sarah and Hannah are on a cruise from San Diego, California to Sydney Australia. Sarah, Hannah’s grandmother, is returning to the country of her birth, a place she hasn’t seen since boarding the USS Mariposa in 1945. She, along with countless other war brides, sailed across the Pacific to join the American Servicemen they’d married during World War II.
Hannah is the age Sarah was when she made her first journey, and in hearing Sarah tell the story of her life, realises the immensity of what her grandmother gave up.
The Passengers is a luminous novel about the journeys we undertake, the sacrifices we make and the heartache we suffer for love. It is about how we most long for what we have left behind. And it is about the past – how close it can feel – even after long passages of time.
A young woman and her grandmother travel on a cruise together from the USA to Australia. For Sarah, it is a journey to the country of her birth, a place she has not seen since she left as a war bride in the 1940s. For Hannah, it is a chance to leave behind old hurts and discover a new land. Each tell their own story, in their own voices, each regretting mistakes they have made and people they have left behind.
Sarah’s story begins as a girl on a diary farm in New South Wales. Times are hard, and her father sells the farm and moves his family to Sydney. Sarah is forced to leave her beloved cattle dog behind. She finds work, and reams of marriage, putting a white dress on layby. Sydney is full of American soldiers. There are fights and dances and flirtations. She falls in love and marries, and has just one night with her new husband before he is shipped out to Papua New Guinea. When the war ends, Sarah must leave her home and family and travel thousands of kilometres to a place she has never been, to live with a man she hardly knows.
As Sarah tells her story to her granddaughter, Hannah reveals some of her own secret vulnerabilities. Slowly the two stories echo and reflect each other, in clear lucid prose that glows with its own inner light.