The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly
This book stayed with me for a long time after I finished it. It is set in Sydney in the late 1920 and early 1930 – a time of high unemployment, deep depression, political unrest and the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Eoghan (pronounced Yow-un) O’Keenan is a young Irishman who loses his job in a boot making factory. He, literally, runs away from an abusive and threatening home, taking his lovable seven year old sister, Agnes, with him. He hopes to make a better life for them, but with little money and no job, they are forced to spend two nights sleeping in the Botanic Gardens before he finds a job working on the Bridge, high in the sky above the blue waters of Sydney Harbour, and a home in Balmain.
A chance meeting brings them into contact with Olivia Greene, a talented young woman who works with her mother in her small costumier salon in the Strand Arcade in Sydney. Olivia dreams of becoming a famous couturier, the next Coco Chanel, and works hard to achieve her dreams. With a totally different background to Eoghan and Agnes, and a secure home in Lavender Bay, they are miles apart in every way.
But this is the tale of an improbable love story, a city in turmoil, and a truly magnificent engineering enterprise that has Sydney obsessed. But more than the blue mile of the Harbour lies between the dreams of Eoghan, Aggie, and Olivia.
The one fault I found with this book was that the inner musings of Olivia were a jumble of distracting prattling. Had it not been for that I would have given this five stars, so I make it 4.5 stars.