Author: Victoria Purman
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.