BOOK CLUB: Daughter of the Hunter Valley

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[Total: 6 Average: 4.3]

Daughter of the Hunter Valley is Paula J. Beavan’s debut romance novel with a touch of historical themes. It is filled with loss, hardship, aspiration, and determination.

England 1831, after the overwhelming loss of her mother Madeleine Barker-Trent decides to make the long journey across the sea to join her father in the Hunter Valley, NSW. She has not seen her papa in six years and now must face him with the terrible news of his wife. He has been in Australia building a house and establishing a farm in the new colony for them to settle.

The very next day after Maddy’s arrival the unthinkable happens and her father drowns in the river. She now must decide if she will stay as sole owner of a thousand acres or return to England. With much deliberation, she decides to stay and fulfill her father’s dream.

Maddy has a long road ahead of her, the farm and house are not what she had envisioned from her father’s letters. Until the house is built, she settles into a hut with two convict women, she has help from assigned convict labourers, overseer Daniel Coulter to cultivate the land, and her maid, Jane.

Over time Maddy establishes herself into the settler’s community, many have opinions of how she should be living her life, but she was determined to prove she was very capable of running Shelby.

daughter of the hunter valley

I loved Maddy’s character, she developed from a lost only child to a woman that wasn’t afraid of hard work. She braved the harsh elements of the land with unpredictable heat, drought and floods, unknown wildlife, and an attack from a bushranger.

One cannot help but empathise with this beautiful young woman who wants nothing more than to break away from the strictures of feminine expectations. She is determined to live by her own terms, using her brains, intellect, and faith rather than submitting to the expectations of society.

The supporting characters of convicts, Worranua people, bushrangers, and an orphaned child are well balanced and thoroughly believable. Secrets, threats, and romance will pull you into the story.

Daughter of the Hunter Valley is a character-driven drama at its heart. Paula J. Beavan writes in a smooth, flowing style, making this a captivating and easy-to-read book. It engages the reader from the first page to the last with its atmosphere and dialogue.

The story incorporates Australia’s early colonial days that add an extra layer of authenticity to the narrative. A lot of research went into this novel and it shows.

I highly recommend it to anyone with a passion for historical fiction and those who enjoy stories about strong, resilient women.

Thank you, Beauty and Lace and HarperCollins Publishers for the opportunity to read and review.

Author: Paula J. Beavan
ISBN: 9781867221449
Copy courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Daughter of the Hunter Valley by Paula J Beavan. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Daughter of the Hunter Valley

  1. Thank you to Harper Collins and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Paula Beavan’s debut novel ‘Daughter of the Hunter Valley’ set in 1830’s. Beavan grew up on a small farm in the Hunter Valley, her love of country and history shines through in this story.
    Maddy Barker Trent is a young, sheltered English woman. Her mother has died and she comes to Australia to be with her father, who she has not seen for 6 years, on his well established property. She is shocked to discover her father had grossly exaggerated the stories of his home, in fact it was a mere hut.
    Maddy has so much to learn. Life and customs in the Hunter Valley are so different to what she knew in England. There are protocols to be followed in relation to convict labour and class relationships. There is intrigue and mistrust. Can she rely on her convict labour? What should her relationship be with them.
    Then there is the young boy Luke, left in her care. What was the fate of his mother? What was her relationship with Maddy’s father? Wad her father’s death accident or suicide. As the story progresses we learn more of the outcomes.
    I loved the historical side of the story and the interactions of the people. How they move from following English culture and traditions and establish the start of Australian equality.
    This was a wonderful story,

  2. Many thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for my copy of this excellent book.

    A great historical romance filled with death, bush rangers, hardship and aspirations.

    Maddy wishes to fulfil her parents dream of living on and running a thousand acres of property in the Hunter Valley. With only the gorgeous Daniel and convicts, Maddy finds herself in quite a situation.

    Her strength throughout is something to aspire to. She faces many the set back but fights through.

    I love books set back in time and this one is well researched and very well written to keep you interested.

  3. This historical fiction (set in the 1800s) is the story of Madeline Barker-Trent (Maddy) – who, following the death of her Mother travels from England to be with her Father on his large property in the Hunter Valley. He has written of magnificent plans for their large property but following a dubious accident she becomes the owner and manager of the property. She longs to see her family’s dreams fulfilled but comes across a range of obstacles. With three convicts and the handsome Daniel Coulter to help her, will she succeed in building the dream her father wrote about or will the conditions, relationships and company force her back to England?
    This is a lovely debut novel by Paula J Beavan. She did a wonderful job to highlight Australia’s harsh conditions and the issues of the time. I really enjoyed the Maddy’s strength, not often a characteristic portrayed of women of that era. A great read for anyone who loves historical romance fiction.

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