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The Postmistress

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The is a beautifully written book set in the late 1800s in a small town. I love Alison Stuart's well-researched writing. You makes character come alive and writes with a vibrancy that keeps you turning the pages. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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Adelaide and her maid Netty fled England and made their home in a gold mining town in Australia.  Adelaide was pregnant, the father of her child dead and her father would not approve.  Adelaide forges a new life for herself far from the life she lead in England as the postmistress for the town.  Caleb Hunt an American fleeing his past and wanting to make his fortune.  Things take a turn for him when an injury requires him to stay in town longer than he planned.

A very enjoyable read.  The town of Maidens Creek and its occupants are brought to life.  The reader is given a sense of the real struggles face by people living in Australia in the 1870’s
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Set in the gorgeous south east Australian high country near Walhalla, this story brings a different angle to life on the Australian goldfields. For one thing, the setting is a small rural community rather than the larger goldfields of Bendigo and Ballarat, and for another the heroes of this story are very different to any I have read about so far. 
The story takes place during the late nineteenth century Australian gold rush and stars Adelaide Greaves, ostensibly a widow, her nine year-old son Danny, and jaded American Caleb Hunt, who has fled the States after suffering through years in a prisoner of war camp and other unspeakable hardships. 
I admired Adelaide from the first. Here is a strong woman who has dealt with the adversity of finding herself pregnant and along and made a good life for herself and her son. Caleb is truly a tortured soul but under the jaded exterior beats a heart of gold and a strong sense of doing the right thing no matter how hard it might be. These two melded together so well, healing each other as their story unfolded. I had my heart in my mouth at times as they faced one challenge after another.
The Postmistress is beautifully crafted, beautifully paced and well thought out. The story can’t help but hold you from the first page. I absolutely loved it!
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Book blurb...
A stunning historical tale of loss, desire and courage that is full of the terror and the beauty of the Australian bush, for readers of The Thorn Birds, The Naturalist's Daughter and The Widow of Ballarat. 
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 borne 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...
My thoughts…
This story certainly took me on a journey into life in an Australian gold mining town in 1871. 
I enjoyed getting to know Caleb and Adelaide was a strong woman (and one who deserved everything she got in the end).
An enjoyable read from a reader new to me. I look forward to reading more from the same time period and town.
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This week I mark off another square on my Bingo sheet. I’ve picked Historical for this fortnight’s square and chose new release novel  The Postmistress by Alison Stuart for this square.

A historical fiction novel set in the harsh Australian outback and gold mining town in 1871.

In a small struggling mining town we meet Adelaide 10 years on from the Prologue where she is making a life for herself and her son. For me, Adelaide came across as older than she was, this would be because she’d had to eke out a living for her and her son and her friend Betty, who I loved. She portrayed herself as a widow so as to be socially acceptable for the times, a single, unwed mother would not be at all respectable.

I loved the character of Caleb, an American who comes to town to look at a mining claim. Caleb has some traumatic history he is running from and secrets, just like Adelaide.

I enjoyed the relationship between Adelaide and Caleb, and Adelaide’s son Danny. Caleb’s arrival is the catalyst for much change in the small town.

We have a completely unlikeable character enter the picture at one point and I seriously questioned Adelaide’s judgement with her decision making. But in those times, women would’ve felt they had less choices than they do now. 

The small town characters and problems were depicted so well, I could see them all clearly in my head. I really enjoy this novel, which at its heart was a love story, with hardships and suspense thrown in to the mix.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.
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I love MS Stuart’s books, she has a fabulous way with words and this story is just fabulous, her first set in Australia and can I say how much I loved this one it kept me up very late last night finishing it. I love Adelaide and Caleb, they are wonderful honest characters that have been through a lot and come through with love and friendship, this one is a must read.

Adelaide Lewis had led a secluded and privileged life in England, an only child with an uncaring wealthy father, but at a ball her life changes forever, her and her maid and best friend Netty arrive in Melbourne here she gives birth to her son Daniel and creates a new life for them all. Soon she is taking up the role of postmistress in the small gold mining town of Maiden’s Creek, she is strong and caring. Life is about to change again for Adelaide when a newcomer arrives in town an American with secrets.

Caleb Hunt has arrived in Australia after serving as a confederate soldier what he has seen and been through is enough to bring a man down but her moves on and decides to take his chance at gold mining after winning a claim in a game of chance, he arrives in Maiden’s Creek to find that he has been let down badly. Then he meets the beautiful postmistress and her son and there is a pull toward this woman, he feels that he may be able to open up to her, and then the time comes when he needs to open up to a secret that will help the town and when danger arrives in town in the form of an old friend of Adelaide’s, Caleb steps up and life is about to get a whole lot better for him.

This book is such a page turner, so many emotions it is moving and so well researched and written, it pulled me in from page one, the setting, the characters the depth of friendship and struggle that was a way of life back then. I loved getting to know Caleb and Adelaide the strength they drew from each other had me cheering them on. I do highly recommend this book, it really is a wonderful story, thank you MS Stuart this one is a keeper.
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The Postmistress  is the first book by Alison Stuart that I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Not my usual genre of reading but this historical fiction/romance was a wonderful read.  The detail that went into describing the Australian bush town made me feel as if I was there.  This book would make a great film, always something going on and great characters.  I will be looking for more from Alison in the future.

In 1861 Adelaide and Netty - her servant and friend - fled the UK.  Adelaide was 17 and pregnant and the baby's father dead.  Her own father would never approve.  In 1871 they have made themselves a new life in the small Victorian goldmining town of Maidens Creek when Adelaide is the mother to Daniel and the local postmistress. Her life is about to change forever when American Caleb Hunt arrives in town to make his fortune - and steal Adelaide's heart.. This small town sees a lot of drama and both Adelaide and Caleb must face their pasts to move on with their futures.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read.  All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
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Adelaide and her friend Netty had arrived in Australia from England, and after working for a short time in Melbourne, moved to Maiden’s Creek where Adelaide took up the position of postmistress. Her young son Danny was the light of her life, and the three of them settled in well. It was 1871 and the small goldmining town housed some rough and ready folks, but Adelaide was a strong woman and determined to forge a future.

Caleb Hunt was recently arrived from the United States and the war had left scarring in his heart. His arrival in Maiden’s Creek after winning a claim at two-up was the beginning of a harsh lifestyle, but things changed when there was an accident at the local mine. The unforgiving Australian bush which surrounded the town was strange to Caleb, but he gradually came to love the small community and its people. 

Little did Adelaide know things would change for her and Danny, and soon. Her past was about to catch up with her…

The Postmistress by Aussie author Alison Stuart is the first of her writing which is set in Australia, and I loved it. Her research shines through, and her words at the end telling of the town of Maiden’s Creek and the inspiration for it, was really interesting. Adelaide is a strong character and Netty made me smile. The Postmistress is a thoroughly enjoyable historical fiction novel - with a gentle romance - which I have no hesitation in recommending.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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As someone who enjoys historical fiction I have read nearly all of this author's books and have always enjoyed them. This is her first one for me which is set in Australia and she has certainly done her research!

The action all takes place in a small country town near the gold fields and we get a really good study of what it was like to live there at that time - the extremes of temperature, the difficulties of transport, and the dangers of bushfires, poisonous snakes and mining accidents with substandard medical care available. 

Set against this background is the romance between the two main characters which does make up most of the story. Historical Romance is not always my favourite genre but this author writes well, keeps things moving and provides a lot of action besides the star struck lovers!

I found this an interesting and enjoyable read.
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This is an engaging Australian romance set in the 1870s in a fictional Victorian goldmining town. Adelaide Greaves, the town postmistress ran away from her wealthy home in England ten years before and is living a quiet life as a widow with a young son. When American, Caleb Hunt arrives in town to look at a mining claim he won in a gambling game and is badly injured Adelaide offers him a bed in an outside cabin until he recuperates. Neither are looking for romance but are soon drawn to each other. What Adelaide doesn't know, is that secrets from her past are about to catch up with her and she may have to leave the place she has come to love.

This is a well researched historical romance, with the author drawing an atmospheric picture of a small 1870s mining town, with its society and class structure based around the banks, pubs and brothels required to service the miners and their families. She has not romanticised the difficulties involved in travelling to such rugged places, the problems with mining there, the relentless noise from the mine, the lack of good health care in the case of serious accidents or the extreme poverty suffered by the families of less fortunate miners which makes for an interesting background to this romance.
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‘There will be other men, better prospects.’

December 1861, Liverpool in England.  Adelaide Lewis is breakfasting with her father, Sir Daniel, as he goes through his morning post.  And then Sir Daniel advises the calamitous news that the ship Evangeline has not made port in Savannah.  The man Adelaide was hoping to marry was on that ship.  Adelaide is distraught.  Her father, Sir Daniel, tells her that marriage is not about love:

‘I have other plans for you, my girl.  You’re not settling for any third sons when you could be a countess.’

Adelaide is seventeen and pregnant. She flees her home in Liverpool, England with her trusted servant Netty.

December 1871, Australia.  Adelaide Greaves and her son Danny have made their home in the Victorian goldmining town of Maiden’s Creek.  Adelaide is the postmistress: treated as an outsider by many but accepted by most as a widow doing her best.  

Caleb Hunt, a Confederate soldier with a past of his own, ends up in Maiden’s Creek.  An injury forces him to stay for a while.

Within this setting, Ms Stuart brings life on the Victorian goldfields to life.  Mining is a hazardous occupation; the Australian bush holds its own dangers and diseases such as smallpox take their toll.  There are several interesting secondary characters as well, including Sissy and Nell from Lil’s Place. But Adelaide’s world is turned upside down when aspects of the past emerge from the shadows.  If I write any more about the story itself, I may well ruin it for a first-time reader. 

I enjoyed this story, especially the way in which Ms Stuart depicted the (fictitious) town of Maiden’s Creek and its people.  There’s plenty of drama including a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming as well as an ending that held my attention.

If you enjoy historical fiction with elements of danger, romance and tragedy, with a determined woman as the central character, then you may enjoy this as much as I did.

Recommended.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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