‘The war had touched everyone, changed everything.’
Australia, 1942. War has engulfed both Europe and the Pacific. In Australia, there’s a shortage of male farm labour because many men, deemed not to be in essential industries have joined the armed forces. In this novel, we meet three very different women who join the Australian Women’s Land Army, doing their bit for the war effort.
Flora Atkins is thirty. She lives with her father and her brother Jack and works in an office. Her other brother Harry is serving overseas. Jack is deemed medically unfit for military service, but this doesn’t stop a stranger from giving Jack a white feather. Flora is angered by this and decides to leave her office job and join the Australian Women’s Land Army. Posted to Mildura, Flora meets Betty Brower, a seventeen-year-old former Woolworths shop assistant. Betty, with her parents’ permission, has joined because her best friend and neighbour Michael has joined the Australian Army. The third woman is Lilian Thomas, a well-to-do young woman from Adelaide, who is trying to find her own place in the world, free from the burden of her family’s expectations.
This novel follows the story of each of the three women: their achievements, heartbreaks and hopes. While I found myself most drawn to Flora’s story, I became caught up in the lives of all three. Each of the women will take pride in her new role, each will develop new friendships, new strengths and a broader view of the world. Each will be changed in some way by her experiences: there’s both happiness and heartbreak in these pages. To write more might ruin the joy of a first-time read.
If you are interested in life in the Australian Women’s Land Army and the vital role it played in Australia during World War II, you may enjoy this novel 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.