It’s past 1am and I have just finished reading this fabulous book. My eyes hurt, I’m so tired, but I have the biggest smile on my face. Everyone in this book had secrets that were teased out in such believable ways. Adelaide’s courage was so endearing. Caleb’s demons were very believable. The characters felt real to me. I’m going to miss them.
Absolutely loved this book. The setting in the Australian bush was so evocative. My Irish great grandparents met and married in the Victorian goldfields, so the area is of great sentimental value to me. The characters are so engaging and the reader feels so gutted for Adelaide with what life throws at her, but she is at the same time so resilient.
The Postmistress is a beautiful romance set historically in eastern Victoria. I read it within two days because it held my attention so vividly. It has action, quiet moments and beautiful pictures of the country and characters in that part of Victoria. I felt as though I was living with the people, and feeling their pain and their joy.
December 1861, Liverpool in England. Adelaide Lewis is breakfasting with her father, Sir Daniel, as he goes through his morning post. And then Sir Daniel advises the calamitous news that the ship Evangeline has not made port in Savannah. The man Adelaide was hoping to marry was on that ship. Adelaide is distraught. Her father, Sir Daniel, tells her that marriage is not about love:
‘I have other plans for you, my girl. You’re not settling for any third sons when you could be a countess.’
Adelaide is seventeen and pregnant. She flees her home in Liverpool, England with her trusted servant Netty. December 1871, Australia. Adelaide Greaves and her son Danny have made their home in the Victorian goldmining town of Maiden’s Creek. Adelaide is the postmistress: treated as an outsider by many but accepted by most as a widow doing her best.
Caleb Hunt, a Confederate soldier with a past of his own, ends up in Maiden’s Creek. An injury forces him to stay for a while.
Within this setting, Ms Stuart brings life on the Victorian goldfields to life. Mining is a hazardous occupation; the Australian bush holds its own dangers and diseases such as smallpox take their toll. There are several interesting secondary characters as well, including Sissy and Nell from Lil’s Place. But Adelaide’s world is turned upside down when aspects of the past emerge from the shadows. If I write any more about the story itself, I may well ruin it for a first-time reader.
I enjoyed this story, especially the way in which Ms Stuart depicted the (fictitious) town of Maiden’s Creek and its people. There’s plenty of drama including a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming as well as an ending that held my attention.
If you enjoy historical fiction with elements of danger, romance and tragedy, with a determined woman as the central character, then you may enjoy this as much as I did.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.
The Postmistress is the first book by Alison Stuart that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not my usual genre of reading but this historical fiction/romance was a wonderful read. The detail that went into describing the Australian bush town made me feel as if I was there. This book would make a great film, always something going on and great characters. I will be looking for more from Alison in the future.
In 1861 Adelaide and Netty - her servant and friend - fled the UK. Adelaide was 17 and pregnant and the baby's father dead. Her own father would never approve. In 1871 they have made themselves a new life in the small Victorian goldmining town of Maidens Creek when Adelaide is the mother to Daniel and the local postmistress. Her life is about to change forever when American Caleb Hunt arrives in town to make his fortune - and steal Adelaide's heart.. This small town sees a lot of drama and both Adelaide and Caleb must face their pasts to move on with their futures.
Thanks to Harlequin Australia and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
Set in the gorgeous south east Australian high country near Walhalla, this story brings a different angle to life on the Australian goldfields. For one thing, the setting is a small rural community rather than the larger goldfields of Bendigo and Ballarat, and for another the heroes of this story are very different to any I have read about so far. The story takes place during the late nineteenth century Australian gold rush and stars Adelaide Greaves, ostensibly a widow, her nine year-old son Danny, and jaded American Caleb Hunt, who has fled the States after suffering through years in a prisoner of war camp and other unspeakable hardships. I admired Adelaide from the first. Here is a strong woman who has dealt with the adversity of finding herself pregnant and along and made a good life for herself and her son. Caleb is truly a tortured soul but under the jaded exterior beats a heart of gold and a strong sense of doing the right thing no matter how hard it might be. These two melded together so well, healing each other as their story unfolded. I had my heart in my mouth at times as they faced one challenge after another. The Postmistress is beautifully crafted, beautifully paced and well thought out. The story can’t help but hold you from the first page. I absolutely loved it!
Alison Stuart weaves an evocative story set in 1871 following the lives of two people trying to escape their past a small gold-mining community in the wilds of the Australian bush. She writes with great attention to historic detail, bringing it to life with the warmth of home baked bread, the texture of clothing and furnishing and the sounds of gold mining machinery punctuating the story.
Adelaide and Caleb are characters you want to care about, to cheer on and to share their ups and downs. They must both confront their own inner demons and resolve their secrets. But what I really enjoyed were the other minor characters of the town: the young son, drunken doctor, common-sense maid, the rascal coachman, the madam 'Lil", the bank manager's wife were all written with empathy and depth. I feel like I could visit the town and meet them!
There are many great scenes within this story, but the one I liked most was the encounter with the lyrebird. It is written with great sensitivity and observation. Her main protagonist, Adelaide, is sympathetic to the untouched beauty of the bush and acknowledges the damage that gold-mining brings to an area, stripping back vegetation and the raw earth and run-off. Clear and vivid descriptions bring the bush to life with its majestic beauty and birdsong but also acknowledging its harsh and wild nature.
With such a gorgeous setting, believable characters and a plot that kept ramping up tension and dilemmas, I really didn't want this story to end. There are many cups of tea drank by characters and as a reader, you could join them metaphorically! So it was with great disappointment that I finally finished the book, the sounds of the bush and the town still ringing in my ears and the scent of smoke wafting away. Such is a great book that takes you completely into its world. I'm pleased to know that a second book will be on offering soon and I can't wait to read it!
OK. I was on a long international flight but even so I'd saved the book up for this thinking I'd read a bit, eat a bit and watch some inflight TV. Instead I just read. I even read as I ate. Loved it. Read it cover to cover in one blast. Why? Great story, believable characters that don't suddenly do weird things because otherwise the plot won't work, and the history has the ring of authenticity. I hate fake history novels. And I loved that just as you thought it was all done and dusted, something BIG happened and the story sped up again. So for me this was a great read. Flight passed very quickly!