New Year’s Day 1901 sees the birth of Australia as a nation, eager to claim her place on the world stage.
Clytie Hart, a daring equestrienne, is travelling with her mother in a wagon train along the back roads of Victoria’s Gold Triangle. Once world-famous, Wildebrand Circus is now struggling to survive. But a chance meeting with Rom Delaney, a wild young adventurer, changes everything. His invitation to play in Hoffnung, an isolated gold-mining town, promises to restore the circus’s fortunes.
To Clytie, the roving life is all she has ever known. Much as she loves her circus family, she longs to put down roots in a real house in a friendly bush town, and to free her mother from her violent step-father, Vlad the Knife-Thrower.
Blinded by her passionate love for Rom, Clytie is desperate to prevent him volunteering for the Empire in the distant South African war. And in the face of unexpected tragedy, with the help of unlikely friendships, Clytie uncovers some stark truths. Hoffnung’s respectable veneer conceals the dark secrets of a town haunted by a mystery that threatens to blight Clytie’s life – and all those she has learned to love.