Book Club: The Three Miss Allens

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Author: Victoria Purman
ISBN: 9781489210586
RRP: $29.99

The Three Miss Allens is a step outside the comfort zone of author Victoria Purman, it’s like nothing she has written before and it is amazing. I love this story, I love these characters and the setting is just divine.


Once again Purman keeps us in her home state of South Australia and much of the story takes place on the coast a couple of kms along from Victor Harbor. We aren’t heading to Middle Point this time though; the three Miss Allens spend their summer holidays in Remarkable Bay.

The story opens in 2016 with Roma Harris packing up her Adelaide life to move to Remarkable Bay and hide out at Bayview, the dilapidated old house she’s bought. Roma spent many childhood summers in Remarkable Bay with her family though never staying at Bayview, by the time she was summering on the coast the house was already in its twilight years and used as a squat.

Roma has been doing it tough for a few years and she finally got to the point she needed an escape, and something drew her to Remarkable Bay. With no long term plans Roma leaves her job, packs up and sells her house and makes her sea change. She’s happy to cocoon herself in her new house, insulated from the world and live in isolation. That’s not what life has in store for her though…

Leo is Roma’s brother and he’s worried about her; he’s worried about why his sensible and cautious sister would leave everything and move to Remarkable Bay after sinking a small fortune into a house that even the real estate agent thinks is better off knocked down to subdivide the block and build modern townhouses. His concern sees him call a distant cousin who was once quite close to the family and ask her to head down to Remarkable Bay and check on Roma.

Addy takes a much needed break from her Adelaide life and heads down to Remarkable Bay, the film she had been working on had just hit a delay anyway. Bayview is far from anything Addy is used to but she pitches in to help Roma tidy and refresh the place; it’s her that finds the mysterious old guestbook that lists three Miss Allens staying in the house in 1934.

the-three-miss-allens

This is where the story forks into two time periods, we continue to follow Roma and Addy in 2016 but we also head back to 1934 to enjoy the summer with Ruby, Adeline and Clara Allen at Bayview. The distant cousins happen to be joined by the Allen sisters; Roma is Ruby’s great-granddaughter and Addy is the great-granddaughter of Adeline but neither of them ever remember hearing mention of a Clara.

That’s as much of the story as I really want to tell, actually it’s probably more than I want to tell, but it’s late on a Friday night and I had trouble starting this review.

The Three Miss Allens boasts quite an impressive cast and I think this could convincingly be stretched into a series that completely fills the gap between 1934 and 2016, telling us how the close knit family that was the Allens expands through the generations into a family whose branches don’t keep in touch; it was by pure coincidence that Addy and Roma ended up connecting because they went to school together.

There are two complete casts in this story, one in 1934 and one in 2016. In 1934 the Allen family heads to Bayview to holiday for the summer, the girls are at a marrying age so there are fiances and future in-laws as well as the Remarkable Bay community, many of whom are also Adelaide families on holiday. 2016 sees us get to know Roma and Addy as well as some of the Remarkable Bay community.

I think one of the things I love the most about this book is the connections; familial and generational. But really there is a lot that I love about this book and trying to put it into words without spoiling the intrigue and the suspense is really difficult, regardless of the fact that I should be sleeping.

The biggest mystery is this third Miss Allen, who is Clara Allen? She wasn’t written with the other sisters so was she family, how common was the name, could it be coincidence and if she is related why has no-one heard mention of her? This is a question that runs right through the story.

The parallels between the generations are uncanny which is something I got a real kick out of, it wasn’t necessarily a case of history repeating so much as time throwing up similar situations and demonstrating how different the decisions can be depending on the time.

Each of the characters have secrets, as do each of the families, and sometimes those secrets are best left buried. Time has a way of sorting things out in the end.

The Three Miss Allens took me through the complete range of emotions, all the way to rage and anger in stark contrast to the heartbreak and the empathy.

What begins as a run and hide defense mechanism slowly transforms into something completely different, something beautiful and empowering even.

The Three Miss Allens is a gorgeous tale of new beginnings, the circle of life, the restorative power of the South Australian beaches and the importance of family.

It addresses the way that women often compare themselves and measure themselves against someone else; never seeing themselves reflected in other eyes and never being able to see yourself the way other people see you. That person you are so envious of for whatever reason could have on a mask as convincing as your own and they too only see the face you are projecting, not the real you.

The secrets we keep aren’t always for the best, of anyone, but all people and all families have secrets and sometimes you just can’t tell what damage unearthing them could do.

The Three Miss Allens is book #51 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

Available October 24th from Harlequin, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia 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.

20 of our lucky readers will be reading The Three Miss Allens so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

 

20 thoughts on “Book Club: The Three Miss Allens

  1. The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman. This is the first book I have read by Victoria Purman and I thoroughly enjoyed it, she is a South Australian and the book is set in a coastal town near Victor Harbour. I engaged with all the characters past and present, couldn’t put the book down as I wanted to know what happened in all their lives.

    The title comes from 3 sisters who go on holidays with their parents to a Guest House “Bayview” in a coastal town “Remarkable Bay”. It is 1934 and Ruby, Adeline and Clara Allen sign the guest book when they arrive.

    In 2016 Roma Harris decides to escape Adelaide and her former life and move to Remarkable Bay. When she was a child her family rented a house there in the summer. Roma purchases a rather run down property, the former guest house “Bayview”.
    Roma’s brother Leo is worried about her as she has had a tragedy in her life and appears to not be coping, so he asks their distant cousin Addy to go and visit her. Addy is dealing with her own crisis and is more than happy to escape Adelaide. Roma and Addy have past unresolved tensions, however Roma agrees to let Addy stay and help renovate. They find a guest book from 1934. Amazingly the first entry s from a family Allen. Miss Ruby Allen has signed, she is Roma’s great grandmother. Miss Adeline Allen has signed, she is Addy’s great grandmother. Further down the page is a Miss Clara Allen. Roma and Addy have never heard of a Clara mentioned in their family history and wondering who she is and is she related to them.

    The story splits into two. We follow the 1934 events and get to know the 3 sisters and follow their lives and loves. They meet residents of Remarkable Bay and we get to know them. Unfortunately if you were a daughter in 1934……..you had to do what your Father wanted. I felt a lot of empathy for the sisters.

    We follow the 2016 events with Roma and Addy and meet the current residents of Remarkable Bay. Roma might have intended to escape and hide away, but her move is actually enabling her to start living again.

    It is a book about dealing with the past and new beginnings. Anyone who enjoys love stories and mysteries will love this book. The cover is divine! I would pick it up just from the cover!! I plan to borrow other Victoria Purman books from the library!!

  2. I loved this book. In the end it had me up all night trying to get through to the end but I had to force myself to go to bed. That is the mark of a good book in my opinion.
    The story follows Roma and Addy in 2016 who are both dealing with hardships in life and after Roma decides to buy a dilapidated old guesthouse in the sleepy town of Remarkable Bay, Addy comes to join her. The relationship between them has been distant since the teenage years but it interesting watching them grow closer again. In the end they find a old guestbook from 1934 that has the names of three Miss Allen’s two of which happen to be Roma and Addy’s great grandmas, but they have never heard of a third Miss Allen. The story then starts to jump between 2016 and the three Miss Allen’s in 1934 when they are staying at the guesthouse for the summer. Everyone in 2016 and 1934 seems to have a secret some of which no-one ever finds out except for the reader.
    This story really sucks you in as you start to fall in love with the characters and really hope everything works out for them. And you also just really want to find out all the secrets.
    A really great read and thanks to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read it 🙂

  3. The Three Miss Allens is a delightful story which begins in 2016, but has flash backs to 1934. It follows the loves, lives and secrets of the Allen family girls.

    We begin in 2016 when Roma leaves her life in Adelaide, South Australia, and buys a run down old guest house in a sea side holiday area near Victor Harbour. She has no idea why she has chosen to do this, as it is not in character for her, but she feels she needs a change in her life. Her family used to holiday at this town when she was a child, so perhaps Roma is trying to re-create happy times.
    Roma’s brother Leo is concerned at such an action by his usually sensible sister, so he asks their distant cousin Addy to go and check that Roma hasn’t “gone mad”. Addy used to holiday with Roma and Leo at this town, so she is drawn to see what Roma is up to. On her arrival, she feels compelled to stay and help Roma with the restoration work on the guest house.
    When the girls find a Guest Book at the back of a linen cupboard, the story then flashes back to 1934 when their Great Grandmothers were young girls holidaying in the Guest House prior to their weddings. But there were 3 Miss Allens : no one has heard of Clara Allen, is she family too?
    The story gives us a wonderful look at life of young girls in 1934, their expected roles, and the rules and social graces that every family followed. Secrets are kept, and things are hidden- for generations to come. And some secrets are never revealed.
    I enjoyed following Roma and Addy’s re-connection, and seeing the new friendships develop with others as they settled in to the small town. And then we discover that even Roma and Addy have secrets….
    A delightful book that I couldn’t put down, and read in 2 nights.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin books for choosing me to read this great Victoria Purman book

  4. well, what can I write that has not already been written above, in some of the ones that the people have already read… I have to admit it was a book I wanted to finish once I started, and it took me on and off the whole weekend to do that, but having never read any of Victoria Purman books, I was happy to let all else go to finish… I shall also find others at my local library to read from this author as well. I find it adds to the book, and to the characters, if I know where the story was written from, that is the place, and having been to both victor Harbor and other places to stay myself along the s.a. coast, could put myself there with no problem… The book actually writes about three different people, with three different lifestyles, and the third Miss allen does not come into it a lot, …. you are left pondering the big question….. but I will not write anything about that as it would spoil the story, I did make a guess… and my guess was completely wrong…. wrong… wrong.. Never mind it added more enjoyment to this story. The characters here. … mainly Roma herself. goes thru a lot of heartbreak, and soul searching, but it is worth it. in the end, because it literally alters her, and each charaacter that we read about also alters them, and they find the world … is now a better place to live in…… sometimes we need to be shaken to our very chore , to find how inbuilt with ourselves we have b ecome, and in lots of cases we need to change. various characters in this book, are all involved and the changes come about … slowly but masterfully under Victoria”s pen. I thoroughly enjoyed, and in a few months time will come back and read again, and probably do a bit of soul searching in myself.

  5. LOVE LOVE LOVE this book…..
    Congratulations Victoria Purman on this book “The Three Miss Allens”.
    Once i started i could not put this book down, I loved how the story went back and forth the two era settings and tied into each other. What beautiful characters, except for one who made someones life hell. The places in the book were so descriptive that i felt that i had visited them. Once i had finished reading the book i wanted more. It cant finish like that ……Victoria Purman , i want a sequel.
    I have told my friends about this book and have already offered it to others to read.

    Thanks again Beauty and Lace

  6. I really loved this book, I enjoy Victoria Purman’s storytelling. It was great being taken on a journey of being whentransported from the past to the future. I liked that after tragedy and broken hearts, there was happiness. My favourite relationship was Roma’s and Connor’s. This book gave me hope that you can overcome heartache and love again. There’s something about overcoming heartache and learning to love again.

  7. I really enjoyed “The Three Miss Allens”. It’s an engaging novel that’s full of strong, realistic characters who make for an enjoyable read.

    It must be said that the plot wasn’t anything special; I picked pretty much every detail well in advance (such as what Clara’s problem was, and who was the cause of it). I wouldn’t exactly say it was clichéd, but there were certainly no surprises. Nevertheless, Purman’s writing is strong enough that it kept me interested throughout.

    The characters were also a little familiar, in the sense that they express feelings and have experiences that you’ve probably seen before. This is in part what makes them realistic; Purman uses that familiarity to help you feel their emotions and engage with their dilemmas. It’s also likely to ring true for a lot of readers reflecting on their own lives.

    This is the kind of novel that you allow yourself to be swept up in; you immerse yourself in the created world. If you do that, then it’s a reading experience that will let you feel some strong emotions, temporarily lose yourself, and ultimately emerge feeling satisfied. I recommend this for anyone looking for a pleasant, escapist read that won’t demand too much of them.

  8. Wow!

    I loved loved loved this book!

    The Three Miss Allens was so different compared to Victoria Purmans other novels. The book goes from past to present, but so easy to follow.
    Very well written, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Like Victoria’s other novels it is set in South Australia on the coast.

    This is the type of book that you won’t be able to put down.
    Reading The Three Miss Allens will take you on an amazing experience, one where you feel you are emerged within the actual novel.

    I didn’t want this novel to end…
    Love love love

  9. This is the first book of Victoria Purman’s that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, once I got over my initial disappointment that it was not called the three Miss Aliens as I thought when I applied to review it (the joys of being severely short sighted!!!).

    The story is set in Remarkable Bay, a fictitious area on the Fleurieu Peninsula, not far from Victor Harbor. Living on the Peninsula myself I was able to relate to much of Purman’s description of the area which brought a sense of reality to the tale.

    The story begins in 2016, cautious and sensible Roma Harris, still coming to terms with a major trauma in her life that occurred three years prior, leaves her steady well paid job and purchases a run down unoccupied guest house in sleepy run down Remarkable Bay. She has just collected the keys and is looking to begin a new life, away from all the memories of her old one.

    Roma is familiar with the house, named Bayview, she and her brother Leo spent their childhood summer holidays in Remarkable Bay with their parents. Sometimes their (3rd?) cousin, Adelaide, or Addy as she prefers to be known, would also come to stay. They never stayed in Bayview, in those days it was a squat, but they walked past it often enough.

    Leo lives in Sydney, and thinks Roma has gone completely bonkers in making the decision to move to Remarkable Bay. He contacts Addy, who works as a film production manager in Adelaide, to try and persuade her to go and visit Roma to see if she is okay. Initially Addy refuses, after all she is in the middle of a big shoot, but then circumstances change and she finds she is able to visit after all.

    Despite initial reservations Roma agrees to Addy staying and helping with the house renovations. Then Addy discovers an old guest book from 1934 when Bayview was an operating guest house which had slipped behind a shelf in a cupboard.

    Roma and Addy are stunned to discover that on December 27 1934 a Mr and Mrs Charles Allen and their two daughters Miss Ruby and Miss Adeline Allen (Roma and Addy’s great grandmothers) had checked into the guest house, As they continue to look at the names in the book, there at the bottom of the page, a hastily dashed off smudged and cramped signature, Miss Clara Allen, a third and totally unknown Miss Allen?

    From this point on the story diverges into two periods, the current period with Roma and Addy, and 1934 with Ruby, Adeline and the mysterious Clara. Purman beautifully reconstructs the social mores of the 1930’s, events, choices and consequences while at the same time exploring the lives of Roma and Addy in the current day where all is not quite what at first it seems.

    By the end of the book the lives on none of the characters would be the same, but I particularly liked the way Purman did not categorically tie up all the loose ends, allowing the reader to reach their own conclusions from some of the subtle hints dropped along the way.

    A most enjoyable, and at times thought provoking, read. Highly recommended.

  10. Just finished The Three Miss Allens, and I must say that I totally agree that it should be more than 5 Stars.
    This is the first book I have read by Victoria Purman and I believe it is a deviation of her usual style of writing, I must say please Victoria – continue in this style.

    I was completely engrossed in the lives of the three sisters, Ruby, Adeline and Clara. And also their great grand-daughters Addy & Roma. The story bounces back and forth between both era’s and the one constant between them all is Bayview. Back in the day it was a guest house which catered to well-to-do families such as was the Allen family. Then it was purchased by Ruby, who needed something to care for to take her mind off losing her husband in a car accident. Addy comes to stay and help as she is running from an abusive relationship and needs sanctuary.

    I loved the secondary stories of the other people who live in Remarkable Bay as well. I have an inkling that one of them may be also a distant relative, but that is not revealed in the book. The characters depicted were well developed and their individual stories were very detailed which I loved.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace for providing me with a copy of this book for review. I loved it!

  11. Thank you for selecting me to read The Three Miss Allens written by Victoria Purman
    She is such a great author and I was not disappointed with this book.
    As a reader I completely got caught up in the lives of Ruby Adeline and Clara imagining I was there as well
    This book has mystery romance happiness and sadness
    I am sure this book will appeal to many readers
    I personally thoroughly enjoyed reading and I would highly recommend

  12. The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Pulman is the first book I have read by this author and
    what a wonderful read it was. Full of mystery and adventure, from the start in 1934 for the Three Miss Allens – Ruby, Adeline and Clara right through to eighty-two years later in 2016 when Roma the great granddaughter of Ruby is drawn to Remarkable Bay.

    For me the story is like reading two books interwoven into one, one in 1934 with the Allen sisters and one in 2016 involving Ruby and Addy. Bayview in its hayday was for well to do families but as the years went by it was left empty and ended up in wrack and ruin with squatters taking it over. Ruby who wants to escape her life in Adelaide and her past buys the rundown Bayview. Her brother Leo is worried about her and believes she is doing the wrong thing and wasting her time. She starts renovating Bayview and Leo contacts her distant cousin Addy to go and check on her. Addy who is also trying to deal with her own life crisis jumps at the idea and goes to Remarkable Bay and then ends up staying and helping Roma with the renovations. From here both Roma’s and Addy’s lives go through a couple of highs a lows but all ends well with them building strong ties between them. As Roma and Addy get settled into Remarkable Bay and get to know some of the residents their lives change forever.

    Highly recommended read, thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read “The Three Miss Allens”.

  13. This book is fantastic to say the least. It kept me wanting to read more and more.
    This is the story of Roma Harris who after tragedy finally decides she needs to get
    away from everyday life and moves to Remarkable Bay where she spent holidays as a child.
    She has purchased an old house there, which was a boarding house in the 1930’s and starts
    to renovate it.
    Her brother Leo however is concerned about this out of character move and asks a cousin, who
    is dealing with her own issues, to go and visit to make sure she is ok.
    Together they work on the old house and discover and old guestbook.
    In the book they recognise the names of two Miss Allens but there is a third who they have
    never heard of and wonder where this other Miss Allen fits in if at all and what happened
    to her.
    The story goes back and forth between 1934 and 2016 and very easy to follow.
    This book is about mystery, secrets and love and how people deal with unnerving situations in
    life. It is a compelling read and I will be looking for more books from Victoria Purman.

    Thanks to BeautyandLace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read this amazing novel.

  14. I have mixed feelings about this book. It had me hooked from the first couple of chapters, I couldn’t wait to read more whenever I got the chance. The characters are really relatable and loveable. I devour stories that bring different time periods together.
    However, the ending was quite disappointing. It was such a great story with such potential for a great ending. Instead it was long-winded and very corny.

  15. This is the first book I have read by Victoria Purman, thanks Beauty and Lace for giving me the chance to read something different.
    I enjoyed one of the main characters, Roma, as I could see a lot of myself in her and I was hoping to go along with her on her road to (re) discovery. The story was very relateable with the weaving of family history and tragedy and an old, rambling building taking centre stage.
    I enjoyed the writing style as it was modern, relaxed and the dialogues were very ‘normal’ and natural, as were the life events that occurred.
    Not sure about the ending, it was a bit too ‘Hollywood’ for me but I will certainly keep an eye out for her future novels.

  16. The Three Miss Allen’s was a fantastic book that I found totally enthralling. A definite page turner as you try to solve the mystery from 1934 to present day 2016.
    As the story follows the lives of Roma and Addy, they discover the house that Roma has purchased in Remarkable Bay was once the holiday home of their direct descendants, Ruby and Adeline (great-grandmothers to both) BUT they also discover that they have another possible relation – Miss Clara Allen. Little is know of Clara by either of the girls and they mystery deepens as you read further into the book with the all lives being shown in great detail. How Ruby looses the love of her life, in Cain Stapleton as she must be seen to do the right thing and honour her parents wishes to marry into the ‘right family’, after Clara is banished from the family.
    As Roma (Ruby’s great grand-daughter) settles into Remarkable Bay she finds she is neighbours with Connor Stapleton and romance blossoms for them – so somehow the universe is put to rights.
    I loved this book by Victoria Purman and would love to read further books written by her.
    Thank you or allowing me to read this book

  17. Thank you for the opportunity to read The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman. This book was set in a fictitious town in my home state so this made it even more interesting and relatable.

    The story starts with Roma purchasing a house down the coast and her distant cousin Addy going to check on her. While down there they find a guest book which has comments from two Miss Allens called Ruby and Adeline, and a scribbled entry from a third Allen – Clara, someone they have never heard of.

    After this the story goes between 2016, and back to 1934. It shows the way families operated back in 1934 and how this could affect families. Adeline was about to get married, Ruby was contemplating marriage and young Clara hiding a devastating secret that will change all of their lives forever.

    All stories were not completed and all secrets not divulged to all. I think this is quite true to how life can be. While it brought up a few questions for me I loved that it wasn’t all tied up neatly at the end. Highly recommended and hard to put down.

  18. I really loved this book, Victoria Purman’s storytelling was so easy to escape into and hard to put down.. It was great being taken on a journey being transported from the past to the future. I liked that after tragedy and broken hearts there was happiness. My favourite character was Roma.. This book gave me hope that you can overcome heartache and love again. There’s something about overcoming heartache and finding love when you are not looking and least expect it Never give up hope and never doubt that you are loveable.

  19. This was a great read! From start to finish I was captivated and couldnt wait to find out what was to happen. I loved how the story was broken into two parts which weaved the story about the sisters and their story. The change in time between the past and the future was well written and each time it shifted I was both saddened that I had to put that part of the story on hold but super excited that I could, again, return to the other story.

    This book pulls at the heart strings, burns with frustration and injustice and warms the soul as they journey to find the lost Allen.

    Highly recommend.

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