BOOK CLUB: The Land Girls

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Author: Victoria Purman
ISBN: 9781489273970
RRP: $29.99
Publication Date: 15 April 2019
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Victoria Purman has cemented herself as one of my favourite Australian authors, across all the genres and formats she writes. I have read all her print novels and I think there’s only one of her digital novellas still languishing on my reader waiting for me to find the time.

I first fell in love with her writing in the Boys of Summer series set on the South Australian coast but her historical fiction has added another layer of depth to her writing and I love it.

The Land Girls is an inspiring World War Two tale that shines a light on the Australian Women’s Land Army and tells tales of women in history that are often overlooked.

Purman explores the lives of city girls who take up tools to do their part in the war effort by leaving their homes, their families and sometimes the jobs they already had to travel the country working all sorts of different jobs that were usually done by the men who are off serving their country.

The characters are vividly drawn and quite a diverse mix of both age and background. All of them with their strengths and struggles.

Flora was probably my favourite character. She was content in her monotonous office job where she was expected to perform way above her duties without thanks or recognition and taking care of her father and brother, knitting socks for the troops as her contribution to the war effort. Everything changes the day a stranger gives her brother a white feather and Flora sees red, she leaves her safe job and her family behind to enlist in the Australian Women’s Land Army.

More than just a way to serve her country, for her to stand up and do her bit when her brother can’t, this is a way for Flora to get out and start living her life her way. She doesn’t have to be looking after anyone.

Betty was a young lady who had left her home and her job as a shopgirl in the city to support the war. She had decided that she would go off and enlist for as long as her beloved was away. Betty struggled to adjust but once she found her feet she really started to find her independence.

Lilian was a surprise to all those she worked with, coming from a completely different background to anyone she worked with. Her well-off family had high hopes for her that could never even imagine her being off fighting the war from the fields. Her mother wanted her to be involved with the war effort from the charity functions they organised rather than by getting her hands dirty.

These ladies, and many others they worked with over the years, became a sisterhood who bonded over the long days of hard work and shared their hopes and dreams for life after the war. They share their fears for the loved ones of fighting and even those left behind at home.

These aren’t the only challenges that the girls face because not everyone is thrilled to have the girls working in their communities. There is a lot of support for the work the Australian Women’s Land Army in the communities they work but there is also a lot of aversion by people who don’t seem to understand why they are in the area and what they are actually doing.

Purman has brought together an endearing cast of characters in a fictional tale of very real women in history. She did extensive research and it shows.

The Land Girls is a touching story of love, loss, new beginnings, finding independence and survival when all seems lost. It’s a novel I adored and I look forward to more historical fiction from Victoria Purman. Her historical fiction novels shine a light on women in Australian history that we don’t hear enough about and her storytelling has found a greater depth in this genre that is both touching and educational, and did I say I love it.

Another ***** rating from me.

Now more than ever I eagerly await news of what’s next for release by Victoria Purman because I know that I have to read it, and I know I’m going to love it.

The Land Girls is available now from HQ Fiction and where all good books are sold.

Victoria loves to hear from her readers and you can find her at her Website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to HQ Fiction 15 of our lucky Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading The Land Girls so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

12 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Land Girls

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed The Land Girls by Victoria Purman, published by HarperCollins. It provided an honest, powerfully evocative and interesting perspective of the effect of WWII on the lives of ordinary Australians, and one which I hadn’t been fully aware of. While I knew that during the war, women took on many jobs that were previously thought to be “men’s roles”, I did not know that there was a dedicated Women’s Land Army.

    This story follows the lives of three resilient, young Land Army women – Flora, Betty and Lily. For different reasons, and from very different backgrounds, each has left city life behind, moved into the country, to farms and orchards, and are doing the labouring work once done by men. What happens to each of these women, how their lives are drastically altered by war, the friendships they make, the challenges they face and the atmosphere of the time in which they lived and loved is beautifully depicted. From families sitting around the radio listening to world events to the arrival of the post, with precious letters from loved ones and the dread felt when a telegram appeared, you get a real sense of the tragedies and joys of those living through this time must have felt.

    This is a well crafted book and Flora, Betty and Lily are warm and relatable characters that really bring this period of Australian history to life.

  2. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Victoria Purman but have only managed to read one of her novels so far, so I was more than happy to read The Land Girls.

    The story is set in Australia, in the 1940’s during the war, with Australians fighting for their future.
    There are three women who decide to become members of the Australian Women’s Land Army – Flora, Betty, and Lily.
    Flora is a spinster in her thirties and works in an office in Melbourne. She is the only female in her family; having lost her mother years ago. She lives with her beloved father John, and brother Jack. Her other brother Frank is away at war.
    Betty is 17 years old and lives in Sydney. Her next door neighbour Michael is her best friend, and also her first love. When he joins the army, she decides to leave her job at Woolworths and become a Land Girl.
    Lily is from Adelaide and her love interest is a man named David, who is away in the air force. She wants a break away from her overbearing family.

    The story is told in alternating sections, but the majority of it is told from Flora’s perspective.
    As it unfolds, we discover the reasons behind the women wanting to join the Land Girls.
    Each of them embrace their new roles, even though the work is hard and tiring.
    They also get to make some fantastic friendships with other members as they travel over Australia to contribute towards combating labour shortages on rural properties.

    Whilst the three women don’t work together until towards the end of the story, there are chance meetings throughout the story where they cross paths.
    By becoming Land Girls, these three women get to grow into the women they hope to be, and work towards living the life they want.
    I adored this story. The females all showed a lot of bravery and resilience. They were hard working and dedicated to helping farmers with their crops, even in stifling weather conditions.
    They each had their fair share of heartbreak and their courage is something that I admired.
    Flora in particular really grew from the start to the end of the story; she managed to fulfill a lot of things for herself that she thought would never be more than wishful thinking.
    I enjoyed reading about her time on the Nettlefolds farm at Two Rivers in Mildura. Owner Charles Nettlefold is widowed and lives at the property with his two adorable young daughters and his mother.
    She forms a strong relationship with Charles and is welcomed and respected by the family.
    I learnt a lot about what that period of time must have been like for Australians. I have read many wartime novels but they have mainly been set in European countries, so this made for a different reading experience.
    I would gladly recommend The Land Girls.
    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin Books Australia for the opportunity to read and review The Land Girls.

  3. A fabulous read about a part of our history that isn’t often recognised. It follows three girls from very different backgrounds who go through similar and at times different experiences and the way these experiences affect them, their families and the wider community. loved this book.

  4. A good read about a piece of history. My friends are already asking to read the book as they have personal involvement from their parents in the land army.

  5. The Land Girls by Victoria Purman is set in 1942, right in the grip of the Second World War and based around three very vastly different women, spinster Flora, 17 year old shop girl Betty and well to do Lilian. All three join the Australian Land Army, for a range of reasons but all with one thing in common they have someone they love serving overseas and they themselves want to do there not to help.
    Flora has spent half her life looking after her 2 brothers and father after her Mother died, ever reliable she has worked the same office job for years, all this changes when her brother Jack who is unable to serve receives a white feather from a stranger, Flora is propelled to take action and joins the land army. Her first post is in Mildura where she works on Charles Nettlefords family property. She catches a glimpse of what her life could be if she was to marry and have a family, all of which Flora thinks has passed her by.
    In passing she meets Betty at a ball for the Land Army Girls, there paths don’t cross again for a few more years. Betty is rather home sick when she first joins but she makes a great friend and they both go off to here next job together.
    Lilian defies her parents by joining the Land Army, she finds much to there horror that she enjoys working and doing her bit and makes a great friend in Kit.
    All three eagerly await letters from there loved ones serving, hoping they don’t get a dreaded telegram bearing bad news. They soon learn that no one is untouched by the tragedy of war.
    I really enjoyed this book, I loved how Purman has woven the story together, you keep guessing as to if the three girls will cross paths, if Flora will finally find love, and hope that all three girls loved ones will come home.
    It was also interesting to find out a bit about the Land Army, I had never heard if it before when it obviously played a vital part in Australia’s history. Another great read by Victoria Purman. Thanks to Harlequin and Beauty & Lace for the chance to read and review The Land girls I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

  6. I was so excited to be choosen for The Land Girls as I had heard nothing but praise for it and it certainly didn’t disappoint!

    Such a beautifully written, heart warming story that consumes you and stays with you long after you finish the last chapter.

    Based on The Australian Womans Land Army from the Second World War, the characters are as charming as the landscapes. Victoria Purman certainly has a way of pulling you into the story in a way that you dont want to leave. I didnt want this story to end and enjoyed the characters so much I would have been happy reading about them for the rest of their lives to their last breath.

    I love that while reading a great story I am also learning about some of Australias proud history. The Land Army women did a truly amazing job in supporting our troops and in my opinion probably didnt receive the recognition they deserve as many Australians are today unaware of their contribution and their role in Australian history.

    Such a fantastic read that I will definitely be recommending to everyone!

    Thanks Beauty and Lace and HQ Fiction for the opportunity to read and review such a great book! I am looking forward to reading more from Victoria Purman!

  7. Thankyou Beautyandlace Harlequinbooks and Victoria Purman for the chance to read this book.
    I throughly enjoyed The Land Girls and learnt so much. Although I realised that when the men of Australia were called to war and there was work left wanting I didn’t know of the work of the Land Army.
    This book is primarily about the lives of three women although there were many many more that contributed.
    Flora was a mature spinster, living with and caring for her father and brothers, leading a boring life as a little valued office worker her life was about to take a turn.
    Betty, a shopgirl, living next door to her best friend Michael is counting down every day to when he is to be enlisted.
    Lilly is a young girl from a well to do family, her domineering mother has Lilly’s life mapped out in the society life she is involved in. Lilly and her beau David decide to marry before he is sent away.
    All these women have different reasons to join the Land Army and are sent to different places picking cherries, apples, flax and even at sheep farms. All these postings are hard work but these brave ,determined women who kept the country going while their loved ones fought at war far away, made a life for themselves and found true friendships in each other.
    I would encourage all to read this book ,while a fiction book ,there is so much to learn from the journey of the wonderful. Land Girls

  8. I’d heard of the Land Army in the UK but hadn’t realised that Australia had its own during World War II. I was really keen to read this book, I’d heard such good things about Victoria Purman.
    The novel follows three women who join the Australian Land Army for very different reasons but they are all committed to making a difference and helping the war effort in the hope that it will shorten the war and mean their loved ones can return home.

    There is Flora Atkins, she’s single, thirty years of age (so classified as a spinster) lives at home with her Dad and brother who can’t join the army as he is deaf. Her other brother though is away fighting. Then there’s Lily, she’s from a well to do family, her sister is a Doctor working overseas in the forces and Lily doesn’t know what to do with her life until her boyfriend joins up and they quickly get married. The third main character is Betty, she’s a Woolworths shop girl, very young and in love with the boy next door.
    The three women are from different Australian cities and are sent to different farms and have very different experiences. Not surprisingly the experiences they have make them stronger as women (physically and emotionally) as they work through the hard work, exhaustion and prejudices.
    I really enjoyed this book and didn’t want to put it down. I soon felt sympathy for the situations of the three women and their families as well as all the other families in the book, I wanted them all to have a happy ending but in wartime that’s not likely to happen. One aspect of the novel was the terrific descriptions of the countryside and farms and the crops being produced, it emphasised just how important the food was to the war effort.
    A thoroughly enjoyable novel, thanks to The Beauty and Lace book club and Harlequin books for the opportunity to read this book. I’ll now add Victoria Purman to my list of novelists to keep an eye on and will look for her other works.

  9. Thanks to Beauty and Lace Club and HQ Fiction I was lucky enough to read ‘The Land Girls’ by Victoria Purman.

    I thought this was a wonderful way to acknowledge the amazing efforts of the women that changed their lives to help with the war effort. The Women’s Land Army was formed so women could go and assist where men had worked in the country on farms before they left to fight for the country.

    This story focuses on 3 women coming from different stages of life with one thing in common. They each had a loved one overseas taking part in the war. The women had to adapt to different work, often very physical work in the country. The story tells how they cope with these changes while worrying about their loved ones, who they often don’t hear from for months.

    I thought this was an amazing book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a must read.

  10. I loved “The land Girls”: a thoroughly enjoyable read by Victoria Putman. This book is set in Australia during World War II. I am a fan of Victoria’s work and enjoyed her writing style in “The Last of the Boongilla Girls”
    Focusing on three main characters who decide to take up work as Land Girls, this novel gives a different take on the horrors of war. You learn of the struggles of those left behind, of women who took on what was traditionally male work and rose to the challenge
    I admit I would have been one of the first to volunteer if I was in this position so it resonated with me. Still love the country and know that working the land is hard work
    As the characters of Betty, Flora and Lily developed I became more interested in Flora and was a tad disappointed that not all about her.
    No I really enjoyed all three characters, but Flora was my favourite
    This is a great book to enjoy while winding down. It allows you to escape and enter a different time and place
    Thanks so much to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read and review another book from a favourite author

  11. What an interesting, thought provoking and tumultuous story to read. So interesting to read about what the women and men who couldn’t fight went through and did.
    A fantastic book, highly recommend.

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