BOOK CLUB: The Good Woman of Renmark

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[Total: 3 Average: 4.3]

Author: Darry Fraser
ISBN: 978-1489272164
RRP:  $29.99
Copy courtesy of Harper Collins Australia

Maggie O’Rourke has always been a woman that prides herself on being independent. That was a big part of the reason she was living away from her family in the South Australian town of Renmark.  The other reason (and perhaps the bigger reason) was Sam Taylor, with his rugged good looks. Just the mention of his name was enough to make her heart skip a beat. She knew if she gave in to these feelings she would end up chained to the kitchen sink with several children to care for. 

She knew she would get very little help, and she knew that childbirth was a scary and risky thing where sometimes women and babies died. There was no way she wanted to put herself through that.  She was safer living in Remark far away from Sam and maintaining her independence.  This was true until the day that she killed a man who was in the process of forcing himself on to a friend of hers.  Maggie hits him over the head with an iron bar.  She knows that she can’t stay in Renmark so she flees on a paddle steamer and travels along the Murray.   


Back in Echuca where her family and Sam live Maggie’s mother is in shock to receive a letter from Maggie’s employer.  Maggie is missing and of course, this news comes at a bad time. Maggie’s father is in a coma after a fall from a tree and suffering a badly broken leg. Maggie’s mother wants her daughter home, so she asks Sam to please hunt for her daughter.  She knows that Sam cares for Maggie and will do his best to find her.

This is a wonderful story and I am really hoping that Darry Fraser gives some thought to a follow-up book that will continue the story of Maggie.  An enjoyable read that sucked me in and made me want only the best for Maggie.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Good Woman of Renmark. You can read their reviews in the comments section below, or add your own!

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Good Woman of Renmark

  1. The Good Woman of Renmark grips you from the opening sentence
    and keeps you engrossed until the last page.
    Darry Fraser portrays the plight of women in the late 1890’s,
    when they were still thought of as a possession,
    unable to have their own bank accounts,
    and be a person in their own right.
    I have read quite a bit of Australian Historical Fiction about the Murray River
    and Fraser has written so well, you can see yourself in the townships,
    villages and on the mighty River.
    I have been waiting for this book,
    since I first read about it a few months ago.
    I certainly was not disappointed,
    and will source her other books to read.
    Highly recommend The Good Woman of Renmark
    to lovers of Australian Historical Fiction,
    and others that enjoy a great story.
    Thank you so much to Beauty and Lace, Harlequin Mira and Harper Collins,
    for the opportunity to read and review this amazing book.
    I will be keeping an eye out for any future books by Darry Fraser 🙂

  2. The Good Woman of Renmark.
    Thankyou Beautyandlace Harper Collins and Darry Fraser for the opportunity to read this book.
    Once again an outstanding book from Darry Fraser. This time the story revolves around Maggie O’Rourke a very headstrong young lady, determined to make her own way in the world and not be “tied down ” by the traditional role of an early 1900s woman. She has given her heart to Sam Taylor but after refusing his offer of marriage runs from him and her family determined to be independent and live her life on her terms.
    After several life threatening happenings Maggie is once again forced to run and this time her life is threatened several times.
    Helped by her friend Nara and her husband, Maggie is able to stay ahead of danger.
    Meanwhile at the family home tragedy strikes and Sam is asked to go and find Maggie and bring her home and although Sam has lost all hope of winning her hand Sam goes to find Maggie.
    Many adventures are ahead of them both and not without life threatening dangers for them both and the faithful dog Bucky.
    Would recommend this book, another Murray tale.

  3. The story of Maggie O’Rouke grabs you from the first line with lots of action and adventures throughout the plot. There’s murder, madness, explosions and pursuit as well as friendship, family and love stories.
    The Good Woman of Renmark introduces many historical points along the Murray River and in general life of 1895. The decline of the Paddle Steamer Trade on the River, short-lived communal settlements, the vote for women and treatment of women as possessions were all issues raised.
    The Author also incorporated the conundrum of the independent women virus the family women but solved it by showing that the two can be combined.
    I enjoyed the story overall but found it tedious when the author was very repetitive on certain points. You don’t need to be told every chapter about the money purse around her neck or the issue of child birth at every turn.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enjoy new books.

  4. Having spent a week at Renmark in November I was really looking forward to reading The Good Woman of Renmark and it didn’t disappoint- this is the 2nd book of Darry’s that I have thoroughly enjoyed. We follow the adventures and trials of Maggie as she takes to the mighty Murray River to escape a drama in her life along comes our hero Sam who she loves but is scared to commit to and he loves her but due to circumstances they believe they shouldn’t be together – Darry takes us on their journey to get back to Echuca to her family – thanks Beauty and Lace for another great read.

  5. I may be being unrealistic in my expectations, loving Australian Historical Fiction as I do, but I expected my first Darry Frazer book, “The Good Woman of Renmark,” to be brilliant. I found it easy to read and interesting and while good, it didn’t reach the greatness I expected of it.

    I found Maggie O’Rouke’s refusal to accept that marriage to a good man did not automatically mean domestic slavery and being treated as a possession strange when she had evidence in her own life through her parent’s and brother’s marriages proving otherwise.

    Her fiercely independent nature is shown immediately as the story begins with horrifying details as Maggie has done what is natural to her. She has defended another human, a dear friend, from an unspeakably awful man, resulting in what she is sure is his death. This causes her to flee as her world is turned upside down. How Maggie deals with running away from this terrible situation and eventually accepts her own future is told with the Murray River and the part the early paddle steamers played in opening up that area as the background to Maggie’s story. This historical information woven into the story, I found very interesting.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira for the opportunity to read this book.

  6. The Good Woman Of Renmark.
    I enjoy reading this book it was in a time where women did not have much of a say in things of life, it was the time women did not vote.
    Maggie O’Rourke wanted her independence to work and provide for herself and forget about true love.
    It was set in 1895, Renmark, South Australia.
    A well written story.

  7. I like that this book is based on a real area that I am familiar with. I learnt so much about the paddle steamer days and the early settlements.. The main character is a strong woman in some ways and very vulnerable in others. The story is easy to follow with well drawn characters and there is a little suspense along the way..I enjoyed the story.

  8. The Good Woman of Renmark. By Darry Fraser. 28.1.20

    Renmark, South Australia 1895. A time when a woman has no rights, and anything she has belongs to her husband. A time of hard work, yearly babies, and high infant mortality. Maggie O’Rourke understands that this is a woman’s lot. But South Australia is going to give women the vote, and Maggie can see that things might be beginning to change for women. So no man is going to tie her down: she had ideas of earning her own keep. She has a job she enjoys as a servant in a household, and is saving her money when disaster strikes.
    Maggie is forced to defend a friend who is being attacked, and knows that it won’t be seen that she acted in self defence,. She flees downriver on a paddle steamer to escape the law, with plans to return to her family in Echuca.
    Maggie’ s employer writes to her family, explaining what has happend, and informing them that Maggie has fled. Her family sends her brother’s best friend Sam, to search for Maggie. Sam and Maggie have for years been expected to wed: Sam loves Maggie but she has refused his proposal and told him she wants to be independent.
    Sam sets off to search along the Murray River for Maggie. Will he ever find her, and reach her before it’s too late? A lone woman on the run is vulnerable, no matter how strong she thinks she is.
    Darry Fraser has set the story along the Murray River, and the river boats trade. Her previous books “Daughter of the Murray” and “Where the Murray River Runs” have the same characters as this one, but each book follows a different family member, so they can be read as stand alone books. I have enjoyed them all.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace, and Mira Harlequin Books for the chance to read this one.

  9. Take a trip back in time to when the Murray was only starting its controversial life and the people relied on it so heavily for livelihood and travel. The rail network was new and women’s rights were still a work in progress.

    After being attacked and defending a friend Maggie ends up on the run, thinking she killed a man. Though his loss would not be a great loss to the community, he thought himself a big man in town so the consequences would have her hang. Relocation her best option she boards a paddle steamer and heads to a new home, new life and new past… This too was a challenge.

    After a tragic event with Maggie’s dad, her mum is distraught learning that her daughter has gone missing. How will he break it to Maggie’s dad when he wakes, if he wakes, from his ordeal? She enlists Maggie’s past love, Sam, to go and find her beloved daughter.

    So the evil man did not die, the rift between Maggie & Sam was complicated by a third party and life on the run is not all it seems… A good story and pleasant read, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing what would happen next, how the story would pull together and if the bad would get their just desserts!

    Thanks Beauty & Lace book club for this fun Aussie read.

  10. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book. My very first by Darry Fraser and it did not disappoint. It had me from the moment I picked it up to the very last word.

    The main character a strong woman that overcomes some obstacles in her way. I really enjoyed this read. I liked reading about woman’s struggles in that era where they were nothing but possessions. Very interesting read.

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