Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Book Review: The Women's Pages by Victoria Purman

The Women's Pages
by
Victoria Purman
 
Publication date: 2nd September 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages:416
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
About the book 
 
Sydney 1945 The war is over, the fight begins.

The war is over and so are the jobs (and freedoms) of tens of thousands of Australian women. The armaments factories are making washing machines instead of bullets and war correspondent Tilly Galloway has hung up her uniform and been forced to work on the women's pages of her newspaper - the only job available to her -- where she struggles to write advice on fashion and make up.

As Sydney swells with returning servicemen and the city bustles back to post-war life, Tilly finds her world is anything but normal. As she desperately waits for word of her prisoner-of-war husband, she begins to research stories about the lives of the underpaid and overworked women who live in her own city. Those whose war service has been overlooked; the freedom and independence of their war lives lost to them.
Tilly realises that for her the war may have ended, but the fight is just beginning...
 
My Review
 
The Women’s Pages is a heartfelt, emotional and inspiring look at women, and their role in society, during and after WWII.

Set in Sydney in 1946 immediately post WWII with events during the war told in backstory The Women’s Pages is narrated via Tilly Galloway, working at the Daily Herald whilst her husband is away fighting.

Through Tilly, her family and close friends Purman has shown the different impact the war had on women, with some husbands returning but forever damaged, whilst others for a variety of reasons not returning at all. Women who had been earning a wage, and for the first time having money of their own, were suddenly unemployed whilst older men were also losing their jobs to young, returning soldiers. It was a time of adjustment for all and for some it wasn’t the dream they had envisioned.

The scenes around Sydney city and The Rocks, the war-time hardships and post-war celebrations on the city streets, were brought to life by Purman’s wonderful descriptions. 
With many mentions of the political climate and newsworthy events of the time the story is solidly set in it’s time frame.

Tilly comes from the wrong side of town but through perseverance and intelligence she rises from secretary to journalist however she is still never treated the same as the male journalists. She befriends fellow journalist George Cooper a forward thinking man, and there were few of them back then, who is happy to teach her the ropes of writing a good story.

Tilly and best friend Mary are waiting for their husbands to return from the war. They live on hopes and dreams and their anguish is heartfelt and real. 
Tilly’s sister Martha, with three boys to bring up is barely surviving on her meagre pay. She is helped often by her mother Elsie, who also offers meals and a helping hand to all local families, ill or down on their luck. 
Purman introduces the ongoing battle of the waterside workers through Tilly’s father, Stan, a staunch union man who worked hard and fought hard for these men to receive a fair days pay for a fair days work.

Purman has delivered a heartfelt story. The characters are likeable, their emotions and dreams are genuine and relatable. Through these characters we get a rounded view of the struggle for many during and after the war.

The Women’s Pages is a thoroughly researched novel that had me spellbound from cover to cover.
5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


About the author  
 
Photo: Goodreads

Victoria Purman is an award-nominated, bestselling Australian author. She is a regular guest at writers' festivals, has been nominated for a number of readers choice awards and was a judge in the fiction category for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Her most recent novels are The Three Miss Allens (2016), The Last of the Bonegilla Girls (2018) and Australian bestseller The Land Girls (2019).

Author website  || Facebook  || Twitter  || Instagram

Challenges entered: Aussie author challenge  #AussieAuthor20
                                 Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2020
                                 Historical Fiction Challenge  #2020HistFicReadingChallenge


 

2 comments:

  1. Ooooh! This one sounds great! I must admit, I'm a little wary (and weary) of WWII historical fiction, but this seems like such an interesting, fresh angle on it. Thank you for sharing!!

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    Replies
    1. I can never get enough of WWI & WWII stories. From the POV of civilians though is fairly new to me.

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