Archive for the ‘family saga’ Category

Inspired by a real newspaper story from 1930, An Uncommon Woman is an epic tale of duty, ambition, prejudice and love, from the pen of bestselling author Nicole Alexander.

A new world is waiting for her . . .

It’s 1929, and the world is changing. Cars are no longer the privilege of the rich. Hemlines are rising. Movies are talking. And more and more women are entering the workforce.

For Edwina Baker, however, life on her family’s farm in Western Queensland offers little opportunity to be anything other than daughter, sister and, perhaps soon, wife.

But Edwina wants more. She wants to see the world, meet new people, achieve things. For while she has more business sense than her younger brother, it will be Aiden who one day inherits the farm.

Then the circus comes to town. Banned from attending by her father, Hamilton, Edwina defiantly rides to the showground dressed as a boy. There she encounters two men who will both inadvertently alter the course of her life: pastoralist Mason with his modern city friends; and Will, a labourer who also dreams of escape.

And when the night ends in near-disaster, this one act of rebellion strikes at the heart of the Baker family. Yet it also offers Edwina the rare chance to prove herself in a man’s world. The question is, how far is she prepared to go, and how much is she prepared to risk?

Random House

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

In 1930’s Queensland, Edwina and her brother Aiden work the family the farm together, ruled by a strict and cold father.  Edwina wasn’t allowed to make decisions or even leave the  farm unless accompanied – he also refused to listen to her ideas at improving their land.
When the circus was in town, Edwina dressed as a boy and rode her horse to see the event.  There, she met the two men who would feature in her future in a big way. While she needed to hide her visit to town from her father, she feared what would happen should he find out…
I normally devour any epic historical fiction book by Aussie author Nicole Alexander but I just couldn’t get into An Uncommon Woman.  It started off too slow with a lot of descriptions and explanations and I got bored with it. I also didn’t like the heroine, finding her naïve and arrogant.

Try it yourself though, I may just be grumpy from 19 days without chocolate.


Kate Durham and her brothers, Neil and Alan, grow up on a palatial estate in Queensland during the head freedom of the sixties. The estate houses a massive sugar mill which was one of the most successful in the area. Established in the 1800’s by their great-grandfather Big Jim, who named it ‘Elianne’ in honour of is beautiful French wife he adored, it was a time when the sugar cane industry had hundreds of Kanaka’s (Pacific Island workers) and Elianne was staffed by many of these families.

Christmas in 1964 sees Kate home at Elianne, with her parents and brothers. Her father Stan idolised Big Jim but had no time for his own father Bartholomew. Learning Stan is planning to demolish the old house Big Jim built, Kate goes to say goodbye and discovers a trunk full of books her great-grandmother had cherished. Hidden underneath the books were ledgers written in French, Ellie’s diary of closely held secrets. Secrets Kate and her brothers kept hidden from Stan.

The plot went effortlessly from the 1960s to the 1880s and back, giving us an insight into lives and attitudes of the time. The characters were interesting, and the turmoil of Australia in the sixties was shown, a country which was embroiled in the Vietnam War, the White Australia Policy, politics and freedom of speech, the pill and rock’n’roll! The secrets Ellie kept would rock the family name and were the beginning of the deep and massive change to the Durham family.  I really enjoyed this book with its look into Australian history and recommend it for anyone who enjoys family sagas full of love, family, lies and secrets.

William Heinemann

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan