'A triumphant family memoir' Hallie Rubenhold
'Powerfully told...an impressive work' The Times
'Gives a voice to the voiceless' Australian Book Review
In this remarkable book, Carmen Callil discovers the story of her British ancestors, beginning with her great-great grandmother Sary Lacey, born in 1808, an impoverished stocking frame worker. Through detailed research, we follow Sary from slum to tenement and from pregnancy to pregnancy. We also meet George Conquest, a canal worker and the father of one of Sary's children. George was sentenced - for a minor theft - to seven years' transportation to Australia, where he faced the extraordinary brutality of convict life.
But for George, as for so many disenfranchised British people like him, Australia turned out to be his Happy Day. He survived, prospered and eventually returned to England, where he met Sary again, after nearly thirty years. He brought her out to Australia, and they were never parted again.
A miracle of research and fuelled by righteous anger, Oh Happy Day is a story of Empire, migration and the inequality and injustice of nineteenth-century England.
'A remarkable tale...drawing chilling parallels to the inequalities of our times' Observer
[A] remarkable tale...drawing chilling parallels to the inequalities of our time... A book that is both a heartfelt outpouring of pity and sorrow and an irate demand for restitution... Oh Happy Day deserves to be called Dickensian.
Fascinating... [Oh Happy Day] evokes echoes of the present in speaking about the past, as all great works of history do. It's a gripping narrative.
Oh Happy Day gives a voice to the voiceless and adds another major work to Carmen Callil's formidable achievements.
Oh Happy Day is a phenomenal achievement... The book covers great swathes of history... These are intriguing stories.
An absorbing account of empire, migration, the poverty of injustice and enduring love... The book bristles with Callil's righteous anger at the injustices meted out to her forbears, and at the parallels for our own times.