BOOK CLUB: Heart of the Cross

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ISBN: 9781489251367 / $29.99
Copy courtesy of Harper Collins Australia

By Emily Madden

A sweeping family saga that starts in Ireland and ends in Sydney spanning a period of 60 years – the story of three women and three generations.
Rosie Hart arrives in Australia and settles in Kings Cross in 1959 with stars in her eyes and a young son from Ireland to begin a new life in Sydney with her husband who has been working there to build a life for them.

Unfortunately, the kind man she married in Ireland has changed over the three years they were apart, and she finds that marriage is not bliss. Fortunately, she has very caring neighbours and finds herself working for one of them to put food on the table and save some money to escape her troubled marriage.

Her neighbour runs a brothel and needs someone to help with the financial side of the business. When Rosie’s husband flees, she is left with nothing, no money and a debt that her husband has run up with the local cartel. She has no choice but to provide for her son.

heart of the cross

Fast forward to 2017 and Brianna Hart is informed that her grandmother Rosie, who raised her from a young girl has passed away, and she must return to Kings Cross to settle the estate and her grandmother’s affairs. As she has led a rather nomadic life as a photographer over the years, she has no real base, but dreads coming back as she fled a relationship some years ago at home.

Brie’s mother Maggie tragically passed away when Brie was just 4 years old and has no knowledge of who her father was as Rosie either didn’t know or has taken that secret to her grave. Maggie who was Brie’s mother was a very bright spirited girl who had a brilliant future as a doctor before she was tragically killed. She was estranged from Rosie for some time as she refused to be told who and what she should do with her life.

So many lives affected by secrets and lies. Brie is determined to find out about her family, despite the old love of her life reappearing on the scene when she returns to Sydney. She is the only beneficiary in her grandmother’s will – or is she?

This book was wonderfully written and kept me enthralled from beginning to end. I loved Emily’s last book The Lost Pearl, and I believe this genre suits the writer beautifully. Wonderfully researched and plotted and gave a great depiction of the lives of these women lead in their respective eras.

Readers of Women’s Fiction and Historical Fiction will love this story. Thank you to #beautyandlace #HarperCollins #Harlequinmira for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Heart of the Cross by Emily Madden. You can read their reviews in the comments section below, and we welcome you to contribute to our discussion.

15 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Heart of the Cross

  1. I recently read Heart of the Cross and absolutely loved it. I am still struggling to find the right words.

    Madden has woven an intricate tale of loss and heartbreak that gripped me from the start. Some fabulous history of Kings Cross and at least one exciting cameo.

  2. Heart of the Cross

    I loved this book. It is set across multiple time periods 1950s, 1980s and 2017 with three generations of Hart women: Rosie, Maggie and Briana. The book is primarily set in Kings Cross with wonderfully descriptive passages of the Cross during these times. The struggles and lack of rights that women particularly married women had in the 60s is portrayed really well.

    Heart of the Cross is a story of family secrets with themes of love, loss and tragedy.

    Rosie Hart meets Tom in Ireland falls pregnant and of course has to marry him. Tom travels onto Australia to set up a home for the family while Rosie remains in Ireland with her son Jimmy and her mother. Several years later Rosie and Jimmy travel to Australia to begin married life but Tom is not the man Rosie thought he was. The story follows Rosie as she makes a life for herself in Kings Cross while her husband drinks and gambles. It is not the life Rosie thought she would have but she is determined to make a go of it for her son. Rosie has a strong community in Kings Cross who look after her and she looks after them. Time passes and life is hard for Rosie.

    Rosie has a daughter Maggie but Maggie constantly feels smothered by her mother. She leaves home when she finishes school and there is little to no contact between the two.

    Briana, Rosie’s granddaughter returns home to Sydney from Japan for Rosie’s funeral. Briana was bought up by her grandmother but she feels she may not have known her grandmother as well as she thought.

    There are secrets, surprises and lots of questions that need answering …..but who does Briana ask now her only family member has gone.

    The Heart of the Cross is a page turner of a book. The secrets Rosie keeps from her daughter and then her granddaughter are all revealed in a well crafted story. 5/5

  3. I loved this book, ‘Heart of the cross’ by Emily Madden. It was the first book of hers that I have read and it reminded me of the early beginnings of the Emma Harte series by Barbara Taylor Bradford – just a good story about how a woman can survive, can use the help of her friends and will do anything to keep her family safe.

    I nearly cried in the middle when a whole section was jumped over. I was so invested that I wanted to know every detail and straight away, but the way the story was wrapped up in the end gave all the necessary information in a lovely little package that left me very satisfied.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for letting me read this wonderful book >:o)

  4. What a lovely book, The Heart of the Cross is. Thank you for writing it, Emily Madden, thank you for the opportunity to read, enjoy and review the book, Beauty and Lace and HarperCollins.
    The book is sad, uplifting and full of hope, all at the same time. There is a lot happening with time switches and chapters relating to different people but you never lose track with the easy flow the writing gives.
    It is incredibly difficult for so much of the book to understand why Rosie would keep so many secrets from her Granddaughter, secrets that could have incredibly far reaching consequences. The story is told by Rosie, very briefly before Brianna arrives to finalise her Grandmother, Rosie’s funeral, when Brianna uncovers a link to Kings Cross and her Grandmother. We also get to know Maggie, Rosie’s daughter and Brianna’s mother through their own chapters and stories.
    There is so much interwoven with time changes dealing with Rosie and Maggie’s backgrounds that it would be very easy to get lost if it wasn’t as well written.
    We learn, quite slowly at times what happened years before but it is never laboured.
    Rosie has to deal with heartbreaking realities that the man she married in Ireland is a completely different person to the one she joins in Sydney, almost three years since she last saw him, before she had his child. Brianna has no idea that her Grandmother arrived in Sydney some time before she said she did or that her mother, Maggie is not an only child.
    The story weaves back and forth, revealing more and more but keeping much back until the conclusion. It is very satisfyingly concluded and the hope that is so much a thread all through continues after you close the book.
    I loved the analogy of hope being like a feather. “Feathers are brave. They allow the wind to take them wherever the wind wants to go. Feathers are patient. They arrive at their destination, fall to the ground and wait. They wait for the world to tell them what will come next. But most of all, feathers are fearless – because they do all of this with the hope that where they are about to go, whatever they are about to do, is what life meant for them.”
    Above all this story, to me, is one of hope, new beginnings and overcoming loss. An incredibly well written book with wonderful historical insights into Kings Cross, Sydney at a time past, a family torn apart but leaving a legacy of hope for the future.

  5. What a heartfelt story. 3 generations of strong women finding their way in the world with secrets betrayals and love.
    I was sucked in from the first chapter another fantastic novel by Emily Madden.

  6. Wonderful book spanning three timelines
    with three strong women.
    Beginning in Tinahely, Ireland in 1959, we follow
    Rosie Hart’s life as a young newly married woman
    that follows her husband across the sea to Kings Cross in Sydney.
    Life is not as easy, loving and settled that she believed it would be.
    Rosie’s daughter Maggie is a rebel
    and does not want to follow Rosie’s plan for her.
    Brie is Rosie’s granddaughter.
    Living and working overseas,
    she returns when Rosie passes away.
    Brie discovers she knew little of her Grandmother’s early life
    and follows clues to uncover what and where Rosie was.

    Emily Madden has excelled herself with her latest book.
    Highly recommend this.

  7. As someone forced into singledom via widowhood, I spend a lot of my alone time having conversations silently in my head. Is this what goes on with authors except that they put these thoughts down? I enjoy Emily Madden’s writing. I like her generational sagas. I am also over suggesting that her books be longer in order to fully expand on all generations of her tales. I now realise that this is part of her storytelling. Maybe she asks us to extend our imaginations and develop her characters for ourselves?
    I appreciate the play on words in the title, Heart of the Cross with the surname of Hart.

    The feel of community available to Rosie from those around her in the Cross feels very real. The recurring theme of feathers is a charming little linkage in this agreeable storyline. There is good humour across the pages. I particular relished the shenanigans in the storyline of Tam’s Gran. As a Senior, it is good to see life still being lived.

    I know I am reading fiction but there is something comforting in checking the author’s research on a place that is real. I read with a map of Victoria Street in my lap as I traced Rosie’s steps around her neighbourhood. It enhanced my experience. The sites and events are real! There is a Burdekin on Oxford Street, Dunbar House in Watson’s Bay is a wedding venue, in 2017 Cyclone Debbie devastated Airlie Beach and the surrounding area, and all those big names entertained at the Silver Spade Room and Chequers Night Club and so much more.

    This time Emily’s conclusion met my expectations. I loved that Brie had the satisfactions of having her past questions answered and my personal indulgence is met with the marriage of Byron and Mike. This is another piece of reality included in this imaginary world. I have the joy of looking forward to my son’s same sex marriage at the end of this month.

    In conclusion, I am being picky but, in my defence, maybe future print-runs and electronic versions may enable editing. Tam’s son is Jai on page, 27 which changes on page, 104 to Kai. In my work role, I undertake an amount of proof reading and am likely to be described as pedantic.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club, Mira and Emily Madden for the opportunity to review this book that I award 5 stars.

  8. This novel was the first one I read by Emily Madden but given how rich and engaging this story was, it won’t be my last.

    The book involves three generations of the Hart family. They are strong and determined women who forge their way and negotiate the cultural forces that are happening right around them. In most cases, the story takes place in and around Sydney’s Kings Cross and Rose Bay. What ensues is an intoxicating plot filled with passion and tragedy. This mysterious story will hook you in and keep you guessing. It’s very easy to immerse yourself in the lives of these inspiring women, and their very human qualities of pleasure and pain.

  9. The Heart Of The Cross by Emily Madden is definitely a book I’d recommend. A beautiful story of 3 generations of Hart women, Rosie, Maggie and Brie all strong women. The story is told in alternating chapters and decades. Beginning with Rosie’s story in Ireland in 1959. Rosie meets and marries Tom Fuller and follows him to Kings Cross ,Sydney Australia with their young son but her new life is not as she expected or hoped and neither is her husband who has grown distant and hardly shows any interest in her or their son.
    It is the people she meets and the friends she makes that give her strength and help her forge a new life for herself and her son. She faces tragedy and hardship but manages to go on with her life helping others along the way.
    the we have Maggie, Rosie’s daughter who. is a different character altogether. Brianna , Maggie’s daughter and Rosie’s granddaughter is thenHart woman who uncovers all the Hart family secrets.
    This is a beautiful story of love , loss and new beginnings, I thoroughly enjoyed The Hearst Of The Cross and thank Beaty and Lace and Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity of reading and reviewing this wonderful book.

  10. Heart of the Cross is the second book by Emily Madden that I have read and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
    I loved it. The story is set in Ireland and Australia, across three generations, following the fascinating lives of three women.
    It is well written and the characters are very believable.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read and review Heart of the Cross.

  11. Heart of the Cross by Emily Madden is a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it. And you will probably read it quickly!

    Set across the 1950’s to the present day it tells the stories of Rosie, Maggie and Brianna Hart and the struggles they face in their lives and loves. I particularly enjoyed hearing the stories of the different decades and the challenges facing women in these periods – particularly in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    Engrossing and entertaining, The Heart of the Cross is a story well worth reading. Highly recommended! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read this great book.

  12. What an amazing book. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel.
    This is my first Emily Madden book and it won’t be my last.
    I was hooked from the very first chapter following the story of these 3 strong female characters over 3 generations.
    It has everything I love in a book. Lots of love, lots of mystery and lots of secrets. And intriguing book right to the end.
    Highly recommend

  13. My second read by Emily madden and equally enjoyed as much as my first. A great story about the lives of 3 strong women over 3 generations whose lives experience love, loss, mystery, tragedy but above all hope. I love the way Emily writes and can’t wait for another of her great books in the future .

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