This book reminded me of a chocolate filled cookie - the middle was really good and the ends were ok. The mystery of how a four-year little girl ended up all alone on a ship to Australia from England is one that promises a lot of twists and turns. They do come and we are introduced to the main characters - Eliza, Rose, Cassandra, and Nell (who is the little girl) - some more complicated and interesting than others.
The story is told through each of these women's perspective and there is some jumping around in time - I didn't feel it was too excessive.
However, I did feel like some parts of the storyline were a bit over the top and didn't make a lot of sense. For instance we find out that Rose and Eliza are cousins and during their childhood they end up creating a strong bond - when Rose finds that she can't have children, Eliza agrees to become pregnant by Rose's husband and handing the baby over. It just seemed like it was a too easy - I mean she agreed to sleep with Rose's husband, Rose was ok with this, Eliza lives (and stays) on the same estate, and Rose's husband agrees and is fine with it all as well - just too neat.
There is also a very creepy uncle/father/brother Linus who you keep expecting to do something very dramatic or play a bigger role in the story but it fizzles into nothing.
Overall I did like the build-up and the suspense around why on earth a child would be on a boat alone - just wish that the storylines had been more believable.