Book Club: Worth Fighting For

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Author: Mary-Anne O’Connor
ISBN: 9781489210555
RRP: $29.99

This story opens with 18 year old Junie Wallace in Braidwood, NSW, and with that I was hooked. I am a sucker for a book set in a well known place, and though I have never spent a lot of time in Braidwood it’s somewhere that I have always driven through on family holidays.

I have never really been a huge fan of books set during times of war, though of late there have been quite a few that involve the war and I have really enjoyed them.

Worth Fighting For had quite a slow start and it took me a while to really get invested after being hooked by Braidwood on the first page.

Junie Wallace is a very clever girl who loves her life on the farm, though it’s not quite as carefree as it once was. Her brothers are away fighting the war, her parents are struggling, her father is drinking and Junie has captured the attention of a wealthy local who steps in to keep the farm afloat – for a price.

Ernest Farthington was a detestable character who really just made my skin crawl from the very beginning. He was beyond egotistical and he thought his money could buy him whatever he wanted, and the fact that his mother enabled his belief in himself as the greatest gift to the universe certainly didn’t help.

Very early on I knew what I wanted to happen, how I wanted it all to play out and it wasn’t anything like what really happened which I think is a good thing because it made it much less predictable.

The amount of betrayal and dishonesty and adultery rampant throughout the novel was a little off putting, but it was important to the story. Junie was a very clever girl, she had the book smarts to come first in her year when she left school but she was still pretty naive about the ways of the world.

Junie was in love with a boy who wasn’t quite of her class but he was a good man and he loved her. Unfortunately Ernest had made his decision and put Junie in a position where she didn’t feel that she could follow her heart, for the good of her family she felt she had to make the marriage of convenience and ensure her brothers had a home to return to.

This wasn’t an ideal situation and those who knew were totally against her making the choice to sacrifice her happiness but Junie was known for her selflessness and she wanted to do what she could for her family. As Junie moves towards her future as Mrs Farthington the second world war moves ever closer to home.


Worth Fighting For includes some fascinating historical war facts and detail that allowed me a view of the war that I hadn’t had previously. The bombings of Pearl Harbor, Darwin and Sydney are all included for a look at the ripple effect it had and the way that so many lives from across the world are entwined.

O’Connor starts the novel in Braidwood but being wartime the characters are quite well traveled so we spend time in Braidwood, Sydney, Darwin, Hawaii, Port Moresby and the New Guinea rainforests.

Junie’s marriage is a lie but that is only the beginning of the web of lies she finds herself in. I could understand and empathise with her agreeing to the marriage but after that things seemed to get all a little too tangled even for her. The lies built until they towered over her and she wasn’t sure how to get out. I could understand her getting in the situation but after that she really did make things worse for herself. She may have spent a lot of her life as the very plain smart girl but once she filled out she started attracting attention and it takes her a long time to realise it, some of her predicaments could have been avoided with a little less naivety.

Ultimately Worth Fighting For is a tale of love, of hanging on and holding out hope when all seems lost. A tale of enduring through hardship and learning to live with the nightmares; a tale of hope, of loss, of friendship, betrayal and resilience. It’s also quite the illustration of the difference between the classes.

The world has come a long way since World War II, though at times it doesn’t really seem that far. The racism, the sexism and the ignorance was at times quite irritating to read, to think of the way people were treated because of their differences.

In the end I really loved this book, I enjoyed the way it played out though I did find the ending a little disappointing. There were some great twists that really messed with my emotional equilibrium but I think that’s the mark of a good book.

Worth Fighting For is book #58 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

Available now from Harlequin, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

You can find Mary-Anne at her Website as well as on Facebook.

Everyone is going to have a different take on this one I think and I will be interested to hear what our readers think.
Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Worth Fighting For so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

21 thoughts on “Book Club: Worth Fighting For

  1. Worth Fighting for by Mary-Anne O’Connor had me at times unable to put it down and others where I wondered why I was bothering to continue. The story is about 18 year old Junie Wallace who tries to help her parents keep the family farm once they are in debt to the unscrupulous Ernest Farthington by agreeing to marry him even though her heart belongs to Michael Riley, a young drover.
    The book is set during World War II and brings a realistic view of the war on the youth of the day. Junie’s brothers are at war and her contribution is to marry Ernest so that the family farm is there for them to come home to. Junie is in love with Michael and she starts an affair that carries on until she becomes pregnant with Michael’s child. Michael is never aware that he and Junie have a child as she hides her condition from him and passes the child off as Ernest’s. Ernest in the meantime is having an affair with Junie’s newfound best friend, Eliza.
    Michael joins the army as an underage and after his parents realise they go after him, only for his dad to become their commanding officer and train them – Michael and his friends – to become an elite band of soldiers.
    Along the way we are also joined by Marlon – an American soldier ( I never really understood his place in the book). Marlon is first introduced to the book as having met Michael and Junie during a tryst that goes wrong. Marlon to the rescue, he then becomes enamoured by Junie thus creating a massive love square throughout the book.
    At times I was extremely and frustratingly annoyed with the slowness of the book and Junie’s constant massive indecisions. Unfortunately, it is probably reminiscent of the times as women did not have a lot of say and men’s word was law, thus saying Junie has talked Ernest into allowing her to attend university and become a lawyer – a non practising one but giving her a degree none the less. Junie ends up sending her daughter to boarding school so that she and Ernest can move to New Guinea and take up a position there. Junie meantime is missing not only her daughter but her one link to Michael her one true love……
    During the war Marlon, Junie and Michael all become friends and when Michael goes MIA during the war and is presumed dead Marlon helps Junie track the one they call Kuji deep into the jungle to find that it is Michael with a head injury. They try to bring him back to civilisation but due to his massive head injury and the fact he does not recognise anyone but has managed to carve a life out in the jungle when Michael runs off Marlon convinces Junie it is for the best – ulterior motive here me thinks.
    The book finishes up quickly after Michael returns to the jungle and Junie returns home to Port Moresby. Marlon leaves her with Ernest but it is like Junie has a light bulb moment…….she realises Ernest is having an affair with Eliza, she wants her daughter back and is suddenly in the arms of Marlon and flying off into the bright beyond to start her life.

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