Where the Murray River runs by Darry Fraser

cynthia-where-the-murray-river-runs.jpgIt did take a few chapters for me to get into this historical story based in country Victoria in the 1890s. The story features the sometimes hard to read issue of domestic violence and the people willing to fight on their behalf. It made me appreciate the way that laws and people’s attitudes have changed, but unfortunately some things have not. Strong female characters are a highlight, along with the men who support them. Overall a solid Australian historical story that moves at a great pace.

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The invitation by Belinda Alexander

cynthia-the-invitation.jpgThe excess and opulence of Gilded Age New York is wonderfully described here, those with more money then sense trying to out do each other and be the person to rule New York society. But of course in that setting all is not as it seems. The evilness of Caroline is slowly revealed. But the story is more than the excesses – there is love, woman’s rights, marriage rights, slums, and art. A solid historical read with a great sense of place.

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Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Cynthia Somewhere in FranceSociety girl Lily decides to do her bit for the war and joins the Women’s Army Auxillary Corps. She gets herself posted overseas as an ambulance driver at a casulty clearing station, the same place as Robbie, her brother’s friend, doctor, son of a dustman and Lily’s love. But of course society’s rules have been drummed into both throughout their entire lives. This makes for stilted conversations even though they are madly in love. It was also the most irksome thing about this story. The theatre of war was well created, it was the personal interactions between the characters that let the story down.

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The pearl thief by Fiona McIntosh

Cynthia Pearl ThiefI enjoyed this historical novel. There is horror, revenge and love. It is a story that shows the atrocity of the Nazi regime and the survival of the human spirit. Katerina is shown kindness when needed, and this helps her survive and be able to love again. This balances all the emotions throughout the story. I know many people’s stories did not end so well during and after the war, but it is nice to see a positive ending to this story.

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The cotton town girls

cynthia-cotton-town-girls.jpgA story set around the time of the suffragette movement and was both heartbreaking and inspiring. The author evoked the time period well. There was a great set of characters representing the different types of women involved in the struggle and the effect they had on the community and each other. The story included scenes that I have read about before, such as the hunger strikes and forced feeding and secret meetings and riots, but it still added my knowledge and personal experience.

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Stolen beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

Cynthia Stolen BeautyHistorical fiction based on fact. Told through the eyes of Adele, whose portrait is painted by Klimt, and her niece Maria, who flees Vienna during World War II. Although their stories are decades apart they share a strength of spirit. They were remarkale women. The story balances the excesses of Vienna’s Succession Art Movement with the Nazi rule and dispossession of Jewish wealth. I love a story that invites me to explore the topic further, I was looking at the artists mentioned and their work. You will want to watch the movie Woman in gold after reading this story.

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The invisible woman by Claire Tomalin

amy invisible womanThe Invisible Woman is the story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens. With so many letters destroyed, and lies told to maintain the public’s view of the great author, much of this story is guess work, or background history. I quite enjoyed the social history, and the details about Dickens’ work, but the lack of information about Nelly, the way she was erased from history, left her largely without personality, and the relationship between her and Dickens, without heart. I think I would have enjoyed an imagined version, told as a novel, better than this bringing together of scant facts and possibilities.

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