Friday, 17 March 2023

Book Review: Becoming Mrs Mulberry by Jackie French

 Becoming Mrs Mulberry


Jackie French

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 8th March 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 512
RRP: $32.99AU (Paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of Becoming Mrs Mulberry

Becoming Mrs Mulberry, set in the picturesque Blue Mountains region of NSW post WWI, is a story of compassion and the healing power of nature.

Jackie French, through Agnes, highlights the fight women endured to become doctors. Agnes had to study and qualify in Edinburgh before she could return to Australia and join her father in general practice.

At the plea of her best friend Hortense (Puddin' to her friends), Agnes forgoes her career and marries Puddin's shell shocked brother to save the family fortune from their greedy uncle. Douglas was to be declared insane and committed to an asylum.

Agnes and Douglas move to his property in the secluded Blue Mountains region of Australia. The quiet surroundings and the natural environment, along with Agnes' care, see Douglas slowly heal. Agnes uses her new found wealth to supply a calm and accepting escape for the men and women disfigured by war.

I was totally shocked by the way returned soldiers, greatly disfigured while fighting for their country, were locked away and treated badly, called freaks and misfits, completely disregarding their physical and mental suffering.

Becoming Mrs Mulberry is both heart-wrenching and up-lifting. Agnes' humility and compassion brought tears to my eyes, more than once.
Agnes was taught to look for people who were suffering and try to help them. Money brings power - it's how you use that power that counts.

It's not all heart-wrenching scenes; there are plenty of humorous moments with characters like Private Private, the naturist who discarded society and his clothes, also the appearance of a wombat who has a knicker fetish.

Becoming Mrs Mulberry also has an interweaving story about a young child who Agnes saves from a circus freak exhibition. The child is grossly deformed however Agnes feels she can cure her. The circus owners call the child Dingo, saying she was brought up by dingoes.
If you have ever attended a talk by Jackie French you will know she is a passionate person and that passion shines through in her writing.  
I truly think Becoming Mrs Mulberry will be one of my top reads for the year. If you only read one book this year - make it this one!

My rating 5 / 5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Jackie French AM is an award-winning author, historian and ecologist. She was the 2014-2015 Australian Children's Laureate and the 2015 Senior Australian of the year. In 2016 Jackie became a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant contribution to literature and youth literacy. She is regarded as one of Australia's most popular authors with her vast body of work crossing from fiction, non-fiction, picture books, ecology, fantasy and sci-fi to her much loved historical fiction.


  1. I received an advance copy of this book and I absolutely loved it. Have never read anything by Jackie French before this but I will certainly be keeping an eye out now. I love discovering new Aussie authors. Your review of the book is spot on. I too cried in parts and laughed in others. It really is one of the best books of the year.

    1. It was my first by Jackie French too. I will definitely be having a look at her backlist.

  2. Reading this one now and loving it.

    1. Everyone is raving about this book. I haven’t seen a negative review yet.

  3. Jackie is a wonderful children's author too. I loved Hitler's Daughter and her numerous picture books, including "Queen Victoria's Underpants"..

    1. I was surprised by how much I didn’t know about Jackie. I have seen her children’s wombat picture books. I will be looking up her middle grade books also.