The Postmistress by Alison Stuart

‘There will be other men, better prospects.’

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.

Recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

AWW2019

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