Devotion by Hannah Kent [6/10]

Devotion” captures the imagination, line by line, page by page, with fervent, lilting prose, but surrenders readerly ground by telling an overly mild tale. When Hanne, a young, introverted, nature-loving girl, meets Thea, they fall in love. From Prussia, her Lutheran community is forced to undertake the onerous ship passage to South Australia, and the love of the two girls is tested in strange ways. Hannah Kent, noted for her research, offers fulsome, fascinating portraits of community life in Europe, on the long ship’s voyage, and as pioneers in the exotic South Australian bush, and I consider this to be the novel’s core strength. Although many readers may swoon over the science-fiction-style love story, yoked as it is to wonderful prose, I found the backbone of the plot to be flimsy; put frankly, not much happens. I can commend Devotion, especially to all those who adored her previous strong novels, but note my caveats.

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