The Buchanan Girls by Emily Madden

‘When Andrew Buchanan returned home from the Great War with a bride in tow, his parents were not pleased to say the least.’

In July 1924, Andrew’s wife Louisa gives birth to identical twin girls: Olive and Ivy. Tragically, Louisa dies, and while Andrew does the best he can for his daughters, Ivy grows up feeling responsible for her mother’s death. Olive is the daughter favoured by both her father and grandmother. Olive is engaged at 17 and then marries her fiancé before he departs Australia to serve in the Army. Ivy wants to do more, and passing herself as being 18, joins the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS). She does so against her father’s wishes. Ivy starts to establish a life for herself in the barracks at Townsville, making friends with her colleagues. At a dance one night, she meets Leo, an American serviceman.

In 2008, Madeline returns to Sydney from New York. She has discovered that her husband cheated on her after the devastating loss of their baby and needs space to come to terms with both losses. Once in Sydney, Madeline is tempted to stay and never return to New York. But her husband Evan keeps sending her reminders of significant dates and she wonders why. Her grandmother provides a sympathetic ear and then Madeline learns of secrets within her family, secrets which will make her think about her relationship with Evan.

The story shifts between 1941 and 2008, between the lives of Ivy and Madeline. As the earlier story unfolds, Ivy makes many sacrifices for Olive. In the later story, Madeline learns about the past as she comes to terms with her own life and choices.

I enjoyed this novel with its dual timelines. I found Olive incredibly selfish and frustrating, felt sorry for Ivy and wondered what choices Madeline would make.

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

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



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