Review :: The True Story of Maddie Bright :: Mary-Rose MacColl

November 24, 2019

I read The True Story of Maddie Bright months ago - maybe even as long ago as Easter? I thought I should catch up on some reviews and was surprised to find I hadn't published my review of this one yet!

First here's the summary from Goodreads...

In 1920, seventeen-year-old Maddie Bright is thrilled to take a job as a serving girl on the royal tour of Australia by Edward, Prince of Wales. She makes friends with Helen Burns, the prince's vivacious press secretary, and Rupert Waters, his most loyal man, and is in awe of Edward himself, the boy prince.

For Maddie, who longs to be a journalist like Helen, what starts as a desire to help her family after the devastation of war becomes a chance to work on something that matters. When the unthinkable happens, it is swift and life changing.

Decades later, Maddie Bright is living in a ramshackle house in Paddington, Brisbane. She has Ed, her devoted neighbour, to talk to, the television news to shout at, and door-knocker religions to join. But when London journalist Victoria Byrd gets the sniff of a story that might lead to the true identity of a famously reclusive writer, Maddie's version of her own story may change.

1920, 1981 and 1997: the strands twist across the seas and over two continents, to build a compelling story of love and fame, motherhood and friendship. Set at key moments in the lives of two of the most loved and hated figures of the twentieth century, in Maddie Bright, a reader will find a friend, and by novel's close, that friend's true and moving story.

I really enjoyed the stories from the 1920 and 1981, but the 1997 story (centred around Victoria, who covers the death of Princess Diana) felt a little bit forced to  me for most of the book (even though in the end it has a purpose). I did find it very moving though - I may have had a little cry on the bus over some of the Princess Di scenes, if I'm honest.

I really enjoyed Maddie and Ed's friendship, and following the royal tour was a lot of fun (I thought it was so interesting that I actually spent quite a bit of time looking at articles and photos from that time. I also thought it was clever to compare Prince Edward's experience of celebrity and media with that of Princess Diana.

Overall I did think the writing was lovely and the stories mostly well woven.
There are a couple themes that could be uncomfortable for some readers - including infertility, infant loss, domestic abuse, war/PTSD and sexual assault.

The True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl
Out now from Allen and Unwin

Source: Free copy sent to me by Allen and Unwin
Category: Australian historical fiction
Format: Paperback
Australian RRP: $29.99

The True Story of Maddie Bright on Goodreads

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  1. That is a lovely cover. =)
    It's always sad when a part of a story line feels forced.
    I'm glad you enjoyed it on the whole, though, even if it made you cry. I would've cried over the Princess Di stuff, too.
    Lovely review, Bron! 💜

  2. This one is on my pile too, good to know for realistic expectations.