The Women's Pages by Victoria Purman

‘Sydney 1945.  The war is over, the fight begins.’

‘The day the war ended, Tilly Galloway sat at her desk on the second floor of the Daily Herald building in Sydney’s Pitt Street and cried with delirious joy.’

The war is over. Tilly and her friend Mary are waiting for their husbands to return.  But society is about to change yet again.  Not every serviceman will return, and many of those who do have been deeply scarred by their experiences.  And many of the jobs that women have been doing will (once again) be restricted to men.  Tilly has worked as a war correspondent, but now the only job available to her is on the women’s pages writing about fashion and makeup.

‘We are all doing the best we can, aren’t we, Tilly?

Tilly’s husband Archie is a prisoner of war, and while she’s not heard from him since he was captures, she’s eagerly awaiting his return.  In the meantime, her flatmate Mary’s husband returns from Changi.  He’s a very different man.

Ms Purman brings the challenges of post-world war life, especially for women, to the fore.  Women, many of whom have lost husbands, brothers and fathers, women who’ve been a vital part of the war effort in Australia are expected to quietly return to a secondary role. 

I picked this novel up and found it difficult to put down.  These are the times in which my parents were born, glimpses of times mentioned by my grandparents: shortages, anxiety, sacrifices. Ms Purman brings these times to life, with her well-developed characters and her handling of contemporary issues.  I finished the novel, continuing the story on in my imagination.  

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

Jennifer Cameron-Smith