2019 Mother’s Day Gift Guide
The True Story of Maddie Bright
In 1920, seventeen-year-old Maddie Bright gratefully accepts a job as a serving girl on the royal tour of Australia by Edward, Prince of Wales. Maddie’s talents soon earn her the respect of Helen Burns, the prince’s vivacious press secretary, and Rupert Waters, his most loyal man, and Maddie is in awe of Edward himself, the ‘people’s’ prince.
What starts as a desire to help her family, devastated by the recent war, becomes for Maddie a chance to work on something that matters. When the unthinkable happens, it is swift and life changing.
Decades later, Maddie Bright is living in a ramshackle house in Paddington, Brisbane. She has Ed, her drunken and devoted neighbour, to talk to, the television news to shout at, and door-knocker religions to join. But when London journalist Victoria Byrd gets the sniff of a story that might lead to the true identity of a famously reclusive writer, Maddie’s version of her own story may change.
1920, 1981 and 1997: the strands twist across the seas and over two continents to build a compelling story of love and fame, motherhood and friendship. Set at key moments in the lives of two of the most loved and hated figures of the twentieth century, in Maddie Bright, a reader will find a friend and, by novel’s close, that friend’s true and moving story.
Under the Midnight Sky
When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred twenty years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose.
But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.
As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.
But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife
It’s 1930, and as the Depression overtakes rural New South Wales, what it means to be a wife tests the four respectable ladies of Prospect to their very limit.
Louisa Worthington fled to the city ten years ago, pregnant, poor and under a cloud of scandal. Now she’s back – blonde and brazen – with her heart set on the married son of the town’s mayor.
Adelaide Nightingale, newly widowed and starved of romance, yearns for adoration, security and a version of herself defined by beauty not business.
Maggie Albright dreams of empire building, but is hamstrung by her over-cautious husband, who grows less handsome by the day.
Then there’s Pearl Fletcher, happily married to Joe, the district’s most successful sheep farmer, but protecting a secret that could tear their family apart.
And hovering in the town’s shadows is a ghost from their past. A man newly released from jail ruthlessly bent on exploiting the ladies’ hopes and fears to get what he wants. And what he wants is Louisa . . .
Life is too short for compromise …
When Maggie, Fran and Rose met in their youth, they had dreams and ambitions. Forty years later, the three friends are turning sixty, each of them restless and disenchanted with their lives.
Fran works in a second-hand bookshop. Her lover, one of a long line of disappointing men, is drifting away and her future is uncertain.
Maggie married into a volatile family. Her beautiful, indulged twin daughters are causing havoc and her elderly mother-in-law has moved in and is taking charge.
Rose has been an off-sider for her hopelessly vague but academically brilliant husband and their two sons. Time is running out to find and fulfil her own ambitions.
In an attempt to recapture the sense of freedom and purpose they once possessed, they decide to retrace the steps of their 1978 backpacking trip through Europe and set off an odyssey that will test their friendship, challenge their beliefs and redefine the third age of their lives.
After She Left
When young Irish artist Deirdre O’Mara emigrates from the remote Blasket Islands to Sydney’s The Rocks in the 1920s, she makes an indelible mark on conservative society with her surrealist art and bohemian ways. Just after the Second World War, Deirdre leaves for Europe to be with her lover – leaving behind her estranged daughter and a family secret.
Years later, Deirdre’s granddaughter Keira is determined to discover the secret and her mother, Maureen, clinging to her own fears of the past and a desire to change her future, fights to stop her.
When the three women’s lives intersect amidst the emerging women’s liberation movement and political tension in 1970s Sydney, what price will be paid for the deceptions of the past?
Age of Discretion
When the sex in Vivien Quarry’s thirty-two-year marriage dwindles to nothing, her husband Geoff finally gives her a reason: ‘Men are hardwired to not find older women attractive’.
This unforgivable statement, uttered by a man long past his Adonis years, prompts Vivien to take drastic action. At sixty-seven, she most definitely doesn’t feel ‘past it’, and so enlists the services of the enigmatic Martin Glover from The Discretion Agency.
Under the sardonic eye of her oldest friend Jules, a world-famous operatic soprano facing the closing years of a brilliant career, Viv embarks on a series of wildly unpredictable, and sometimes hilariously cringeworthy dates – with wholly unexpected consequences.
Told with great humour and heart, the accomplished Virginia Duigan delivers a provocative and profoundly relatable story that proves living is not reserved for the young.
The Cinema at Starlight Creek
Queensland, 1994: When location manager Claire Montgomery arrives in rural Queensland to work on a TV mini-series, she’s captivated by the beauty of Starlight Creek and the surrounding sugarcane fields. Working in a male-dominated industry is challenging, but Claire has never let that stop her pursuing her dreams-until now. She must gain permission to film at Australia’s most historically significant art deco cinema, located at Starlight Creek. But there is trouble ahead. The community is fractured and the cinema’s reclusive owner, Hattie Fitzpatrick, and her enigmatic great nephew, Luke Jackson, stand in her way, putting Claire’s career-launching project-and her heart-at risk.
Hollywood, 1950: Lena Lee has struggled to find the break that will catapult her into a star with influence. She longs for roles about strong, independent women but with Hollywood engulfed in politics and a censorship battle, Lena’s timing is wrong. Forced to keep her love affair with actor Reeves Garrity a secret, Lena puts her career on the line to fight for equality for women in an industry ruled by men. Her generous and caring nature steers her onto a treacherous path, leaving Lena questioning what she is willing to endure to get what she desires.
Can two women-decades apart-uncover lies and secrets to live the life they’ve dared to dream?
The Legacies of Brigadier Station
Lachie McGuire is trying to make a fresh start. He’s sobered up and is making amends for all the people he has hurt and the pain he has caused. But some of his past actions have consequences. Even if he doesn’t remember them.
Needing her independence, single-mum Abbie Forsyth accepted a nursing position in the small outback town of Julia Creek and uprooted her daughter, Hannah from the only life she had ever known. Now, in the dusty, sun burned land they are creating a life together, just the two of them.
When Lachie is injured and needs medical assistance, Abbie is there for him. She’s by his side every step of the way, including letting him stay with them while he recovers from surgery. Even though they don’t know each other, neither can shake the strange sensation of having met before. But Abbie knows how volatile life with an addict can be and she has to think about her daughter’s safety above her own growing affection for the sexy grazier.
Can Lachie be the father Hannah needs? And the man Abbie deserves? As tragedy strikes the small rural town, secrets begin to unravel…
The Place on Dalhousie
When Rosie Gennaro first meets Jimmy Hailler, she has walked away from life in Sydney, leaving behind the place on Dalhousie that her father, Seb, painstakingly rebuilt for his family but never saw completed. Two years later, Rosie returns to the house and living there is Martha, whom Seb Gennaro married less than a year after the death of Rosie’s mother. Martha is struggling to fulfil Seb’s dream, while Rosie is coming to terms with new responsibilities. And so begins a stand-off between two women who refuse to move out of the home they both lay claim to.
As the battle lines are drawn, Jimmy Hailler re-enters Rosie’s life. Having always watched other families from the perimeters, he’s now grappling, heartbreakingly, with forming one of his own . . .
An unforgettable story about losing love and finding love; about the interconnectedness of lives and the true nature of belonging, from one of our most acclaimed writers.
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant
1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon becomes her refuge.
2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient.
Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.
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The French Photographer
Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May’s successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.
France, 2005: Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D’Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer – and realises that she is connected to D’Arcy’s own mother, Victorine.
The Land Girls
War has engulfed Europe and now the Pacific, and Australia is fighting for its future. For spinster Flora Atkins, however, nothing much has changed. Tending her dull office job and beloved brother and father, as well as knitting socks for the troops, leaves her relatively content. Then one day a stranger gives her brother a white feather and Flora’s anger propels her out of her safe life and into the vineyards of the idyllic Mildura countryside, a member of the Australian Women’s Land Army.
There she meets Betty, a 17-year-old former shopgirl keen to do her bit for the war effort and support her beloved, and the unlikely Lilian, a well-to-do Adelaide girl fleeing her overbearing family and theworld’s expectations for her. As the Land Girls embrace their new world of close-knit community and backbreaking work, they begin to find pride in their roles. More than that, they start to find a kind of liberation. For Flora, new friendships and the singular joy derived from working the land offer new meaning to her life, and even the possibility of love.
But as the clouds of war darken the horizon, and their fears for loved ones – brothers, husbands, lovers – fighting at the front grow, the Land Girls’ hold on their world and their new-found freedoms is fragile. Even if they make it through unscathed, they will not come through unchanged…
The Gift of Life
Gabby McPhee is the owner of The Tin Man, a chic new cafe and coffee roasting house in Melbourne. The struggles of her recent heart transplant are behind her and life is looking up – until a mysterious customer appears in the cafe, convinced that Gabby has her deceased husband’s heart beating inside her chest.
Krystal Arthur is a bereaved widow, struggling to hold herself and her two young boys together since Evan’s death, and plagued by unanswered questions. Why was her husband in another city the night he died? And why won’t his spirit rest?
Krystal is convinced that Gabby holds the clues she needs to move towards a brighter future. Gabby needs Krystal to help her let go of her troubled past. The two women must come together to try to unlock the secrets in Evan’s heart in order to set free their own.
Can’t Beat the Chemistry
Ionic and covalent bonds are a piece of cake for MJ. But human bonds are a little harder …
There are only two things MJ wants in her final year of high school:
1) Glowing grades and …
2) to convince uber-smart, chiselled-jaw Jason they’d be a winning team outside the science lab as well as in.
Tutoring deadbeat drummer, Luke, isn’t part of the plan. After all, he has average intelligence, takes disorganised notes and looks like a partied-out zombie at their study sessions! Not even his taut biceps will win MJ over.
But MJ learns that she could be tutored in a few life lessons too: That sometimes there’s good reason to skip chemistry tutorials. That intelligence is so much more than a grade average.
And that sometimes you can’t beat the chemistry.
Alice to Prague
In 1994, with a battered copy of Let’s Go Europe stuffed in her backpack, Tanya Heaslip left her safe life as a lawyer in outback Australia and travelled to the post-communist Czech Republic.
Dismissing concerns from family and friends that her safety and career were at risk, she arrived with no teaching experience whatsoever, to work at a high school in a town she’d never heard of, where the winters are frigid and plunge to sub-zero temperatures.
During her childhood on an isolated cattle station in Central Australia, Tanya had always dreamed of adventure and romance in Europe but the Czech Republic was not the stuff of her dreams. On arrival, however, she falls headlong into misadventures that change her life forever.
This land of castles, history and culture opened up to her and she to it. In love with Prague and her people, particularly with the charismatic Karel, who takes her into his home, his family and as far as he can into his heart, Tanya learns about lives very different to hers.
The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers
Petrograd, 1914. A country on a knife edge. The story of two people caught in the middle – with everything to lose… A stunning debut from a talented new Australian voice in historical fiction.
Valentina Yershova’s position in the Romanovs’ Imperial Russian Ballet is the only thing that keeps her from the clutches of poverty. With implacable determination, she has clawed her way through the ranks, relying not only on her talent but her alliances with influential men that grant them her body, but never her heart. Then Luka Zhirkov – the gifted son of a factory worker – joins the company, and suddenly everything she has built is put at risk.
For Luka, being accepted into the company fulfils a lifelong dream. But in the eyes of his proletariat father, it makes him a traitor. As civil war tightens its grip and the country starves, Luka is torn between his growing connection to Valentina and his guilt for their lavish way of life.
For the Imperial Russian Ballet has become the ultimate symbol of Romanov indulgence, and soon the lovers are forced to choose: their country, their art or each other…
A powerful novel of revolution, passion and just how much two people will sacrifice…
A Promise Kept
With a tough childhood and an abusive father, then several bad choices with men, Lilly’s life was far from the fairytale she had always dreamed of. Lilly felt blessed to have strong women to show her the way, her Grandmother Loretta and her mother Rose. With their love and support she knew she could conquer anything, as long as she believed in herself…..
Mr Right Now
Griffin Callahan and Olivia Dawson were inseparable. Everyone in town knew it. But when Griff went off to Ag College, Liv told him it was over and fled her family’s farm to study law. Griff had never understood her reasons, but eventually accepted that first loves don’t last. Until now.
Currently back on the farm to help her twin brother with the harvest, Liv is the same gorgeous, laughing, hazel-eyed girl he’d always loved. Yet Griff can sense a difference, an uncertainty playing beneath the surface, that wasn’t there before.
Amid crossed wires, drunken declarations, and families on a mission, will Griff and Liv finally have a second chance? Or will the old saying – if you love someone set them free – become their reality?
Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach . . .
Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that he’s her twin brother’s best friend – oh, and that 99 percent of the time, he hasn’t seemed interested in her. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty – ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.
When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.
Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around – just to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that’s inspiring her to pick up her camera again. But sparks start to fly – and not just because of the faulty wiring. Soon, a one percent chance with Tom is no longer enough. This time around, Darcy’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.
Home At Last
Flying solo for the first time had been the greatest high of Anna Kelly’s life. So when the chance of a dream job as a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service comes up she takes it, even though she has to leave her home in Adelaide and move to remote Broken Hill – a place she had hoped she would never see again.
The bad memories the town provokes remind Anna why she keeps men at arm’s length but as her work proves fulfilling, her housemate becomes a friend and a warm community grows around her, Anna is surprised to discover that Broken Hill is starting to feel like home.
But there is no such thing as plain sailing and with errant mothers, vengeful ex-patients and determined exes on the prowl, life is becoming increasingly complicated. More than that, the distractingly attractive Flight Nurse Nick Harrison seems keen to get to know her better, and he has a way of finding a path through her defences. But will he still want her if the truth comes out?
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