Review :: The Postmistress :: Alison Stuart

January 07, 2020

Historical fiction centred around women is one of my favourite things to read, so I knew I had to take some with me on my Christmas week away. What I didn't realise when I packed Alison Stuart's The Postmistress was that a) it is set over summer, and b) it is set (in a fictional town) in beautiful Gippsland - which is precisely where I spent my break - how is that for some bookish serendipity?!

Here's the synopsis (from the Harper Collins website)

To forge a new life she must first deal with her past...

1871. Adelaide Greaves and her young son have found sanctuary in the Australian town of Maiden's Creek, where she works as a postmistress. The rough Victorian goldmining settlement is a hard place for a woman - especially as the other women in town don't know what to make of her - but through force of will and sheer necessity, Adelaide carves out a role. 

But her past is coming to find her, and the embittered and scarred Confederate soldier Caleb Hunt, in town in search of gold and not without a dark past of his own, might be the only one who can help. Can Adelaide trust him? Can she trust anyone?

When death and danger threaten - some from her past, some born of the Australian bush - she must swallow her pride and turn to Caleb to join her in the fight, a fight she is determined to win...

I enjoyed this book so much! I devoured it in a single day on Boxing Day - surely one of the greatest pleasures of that Christmas - New Year week if you can get away with dedicating a full day to reading a book.

I thought Adelaide was a wonderful, strong character, and she also felt authentic to me. I loved that she had been brave enough to set up a life for herself in a new place, and the way she stood up for herself, as well as other women in the town, and stood by her decisions. I felt like the interactions between Adelaide and Caleb felt natural and pretty well paced too - it was neither enemies to lovers nor love at first sight, which made it feel more authentic.

The way the setting was written really charmed me - I knew from the blurb that the story was set in a goldmining settlement in Victoria, but had assumed it would be Ballarat, so it was a lovely surprise to find it set in Gippsland, not far from where I grew up. It was abundantly clear that the book was incredibly well researched, and I was fascinated by the descriptions of what people went through to get the machinery and supplies into the town. I enjoyed reading the notes in the back of the about Walhalla, the actual settlement that was the inspiration for fictional Maiden's Creek.

I was so pleased to read that Alison is working on another book set in Maiden's Creek - I'm looking forward to spending more time there!

In terms of content warnings, this one does have a brief reference to violence against women, although it isn't a key theme. The main warning I'd like to give people considering what's happening here in Australia at the moment is that there is a part of the plot that involves a bushfire, and this is quite confronting, so if you are not comfortable with that this might be one to pick up a bit later.

I would recommend this to anyone who loved The Woman in the Green Dress.

xo Bron

The Postmistress by Alison Stuart
Release: Out now from Harper Collins Australia.
Source: I received a copy of The Postmistress from Harper Collins for review. All views are my own.
Format: Trade paperback, 416 pages
RRP: $32.99
On Goodreads
Find Alison Stuart online here

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  1. That is so awesome that the book is set where you were spending your break!
    I love when you can tell a book has been well researched by how the story is told.
    I am so glad you enjoyed this one, Bron.