Cover Image: The Bride of Almond Tree

The Bride of Almond Tree

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At the end of WWII Wesley Cunningham returns home to Almond Tree, a town in Australia to start his life. He falls in love with his neighbor’s daughter Beth, an ardent socialist. As a Quaker Wes doesn’t completely agree with Beth’s ideals but he loves her quietly, hoping one day she’ll be ready to love him back. 

I was looking forward to this book because I like reading books set in/around WWII. I haven’t read many books set in Australia so that was interesting as well. This book was a miss for me. The character development was not what I had hoped for and while the plot had some interesting moments the lack of feeling much for the characters caused the plot to feel flat. This book did spark an interest in reading more books with a communist setting (not just anti-Russian spy novels) and the people fighting against it.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Text Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank  you to Netgalley for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I was so excited to read this book. I love historical fiction and WWII books. This takes place in Australia, Japan and Russia. So this sounded like a unique book. 

Briefly, this book follows Wes, who is a Quaker in a town called Almond Tree. He has loved his neighbor Beth for years. He went away to war but has since returned. Beth is an activist that is heavily involved with Communism. Her entire life is to support the cause. 

Wes also has a sister Patty who is a nurse in Japan. She is dealing with the aftermath of people who have survived the bombing and are very sick with radiation. 

I pushed myself to finish this book so that I could leave  a full review. If not for that I would not have finished this book. I found it very boring to read. I think part of that had to do with the writing style, which just wasn't for me. I also did not care about any of the characters. Beth was awful from beginning to end. I just did not care about any of the things that happened to her. She was horrible to her sisters, who were also not very great people. She ruined the book for me. 
I also did not care for the subject matter. Most of the book centered around Beth and the consequences she faced because of her actions. Beth has a sister Fanny that is also very unlikeable. She  likes Wes but he is waiting for Beth. Fanny ends up pregnant and her decision surrounding that did  not set well with me either. 

Overall, this book was just not for me.
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A solid 4 stars for a story of tragedy. loneliness, and love set in Australia, Japan and the Soviet Union. There are 3 main characters:
Patty, who becomes a nurse during WWII, ministering to soldiers and ends up in Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb has devastated the city.
Wes, a Quaker who served as a stretcher bearer during the war.
Beth, a naive woman who has taken up the cause of Socialism and believes that the USSR is perfect case of a Socialist state.
How they interact and find love after severe hardships is a heartwarming story. I have read 1 previous book by the author and enjoyed that one also. See my review of The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted ttps://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2822159088
One quote: "They were known, the Quakers, more for painstaking carpentry and care of the land than for their peculiar doctrines. Their fences were split rail instead of barbed wire, each joint fitting perfectly, the posts fashioned into hexagons with an adze and sanded as smooth as a table surface."
#TheBrideofAlmondTree #NetGalley
Thanks to Text Publishing for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.
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I enjoyed the settings of this literary novel, the small town of Almond Tree in Victoria, Australia, as well as repressive Moscow, in the post-WWII era. It makes an intriguing combination. The principal plot revolves around a Quaker carpenter, Wes Cunningham, a pacifist non-combatant during the war. He falls in love with Beth Hardy, daughter of his neighbor, and refuses to give up hope on her returning his affection, even though she's an avowed communist and doesn't have room in her life for marriage. The overriding theme is one of devotion and commitment (to a person, to a cause) and the question of whether they're worth it in the long run (sometimes yet, sometimes not). The storyline is unique, but I found the characterizations unconvincing, Beth's in particular. She veers from one extreme to another - I would have appreciated more insight into her thought process, but it felt opaque - and makes irrational decisions.  The story tended to meander, also, but in this case, this wasn't necessarily a problem.  I found many of the secondary characters more interesting than the protagonists: such as Patty, Wes's sister, who travels to Hiroshima to nurse wounded soldiers, marries a Japanese man, and debates whether to have children in such a literally toxic environment. Her story is fascinating. Overall, a mixed bag; I struggled to finish it since I found Beth so confusingly exasperating, though I appreciate the opportunity to review it.
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I had real trouble getting into this book. My first problem was figuring out where it was set. America? England? In any case, the story just didn't grab me, and I found myself skimming through much of the book. The story itself had potential.
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Beth is the person we all kind of feel like becoming when we get out of high school/college. We are going to right the wrongs fight for the people who need it. Beth wasn't interested in love. 
Wes who grew up with Beth and had been friends but wanted to be more never stopped loving her. He went to the ends of the earth to help her when she was imprisoned in Russia. This is a true love story. Shows the family bonds, the community togetherness, and what can happen when you fight for something you believe in.
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The story is set in Australia, post WW2 with well developed characters. The protagonist,  Beth, is intrigued with and advocating for communism, until she is imprisioned for espionage and experiences it first hand in a Russian prison.  Wes, a Quaker, is in love with Beth and waits for her. Patty cares for survivors of Hiroshima where we witness the difficulties survivors of radiation deal with.
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Wes is a Quaker from Almond Tree,, who has  has just returned from war. . He falls in love with Beth, who has no interest in being married.  She is a communist, and is interested in her politics - not in being a wife.  She ends up in jail for her activities, and Wes sticks by her and visits her.   She is then sent to Russia, and is again jailed.   She is traumatized by her treatment, and Wes is still there for her.  

The writing is beautiful, and so it the story.  It tells of a love that can overcome so many obstacles.   And we see Beth's personal growth, while still holding true to her ideals.   I was rooting for them - mainly because I was rooting for Wes.  

However.....  sigh....     I was a little bored.   I found myself skimming here and there.   

This book is like those Sunday drives my parents used to make us all take.   They would meander and get lost, and appreciate the scenery and I was in the backseat bored and wanting it to be over.   The people that love those Sunday drives will love this book.    I just found it too slow for my personal taste - I had no appreciation for the journey.  .  

I do want to thank the author, the publisher and #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review. 

3.5 stars rounded down to 3 - and I am pretty sure I will be in the minority with this.
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I mostly read this book while my kids were watching Bluey so my mind had no trouble narrating in an Australian accent.

I thought this was a beautifully written book that explored many concepts surrounding post-WWII. Beth and Wes are from the same small town. He's Quaker who was a noncombatant soldier in WWII. She's a young idealist who has embraced communism and Soviet ideals wholeheartedly. Wes loves her from the very beginning of the book when he returns from the war and sees her again for the first time. Beth loves politics and Communism and Stalin and doesn't have time or desire for a romantic relationship. Beth as a character is a bit exasperating but Wes is good and sympathetic and you can't help but root for them because you want HIM to have a happy ending.

A side storyline is that of Patty, Wes' sister who is a nurse in Hiroshima, taking care of victims of the bomb. Her story was more compelling and sympathetic to me. Her mission to help as many people as she could and her struggle with her decision to have children or not knowing that they likely would be affected by radiation were beautiful, and at times hard to read (I definitely had tears in my eyes at some points). Her character was also sort of fun and irreverent and down to earth, despite the solemnity and import of her mission.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I've never read Hillman before but it was beautifully written, the characters were well developed into real and flawed people, and the ending was appropriate for Wes and Beth's story.

I received this book as an advanced copy from the publisher.
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Interesting book of a different time! Just enjoyed how somethings don't change, if you are different,  If your believes are not !   How love is true!  Much history is.
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This was a gem of a story. I so enjoyed it. I have read many WWII books but I have not had the privilege of finding a story so informational of the years after the war. Wes was one of kind and Beth at first was a self-centered rather obnoxious young lady but during the years she developed into a wonderful woman. I learned about Australia, the Quakers and about the conditions in Soviet Union with Communism and socialism. 
Patty was also a most interesting character with the story of Hiroshima. The storyline flowed well and the research was excellent. I listed to this via VoiceView and backed up so many times just to make sure I did not miss something. I highly recommend. It is a heartfelt story filled lots of love and devotion. 
I personally thank the publisher for the privilege to be offered this ARC from Text Publishing and NetGalley for my unbiased review – This one comes in with high 5 stars.
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This book was not for me. The characters did not engage me and the story did not have a hook. I found the beginning very slow and I just could not get through it. I ended up putting it down. The Quaker aspect could've been interesting but it just didn't grab my attention.
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I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and I am also a fan of Robert Hillman, so I was doubly thrilled when I received an advanced copy of The Bride of Almond Tree to review. 

Wes Cunningham ana Beth Hardy grew up together in Almond Tree (Australia). He was from a Quaker family and she was Catholic. No one from Almond Tree would ever anticipate the possibility of the two marrying, even more so because Beth was a communist. Wes was NOT interested in politics (as would be expected for a Quaker), but he had a very soft spot for Beth. He was always prepared to help her out. Beth believed so much in the commist way of life, and there was no way she was going to change for any one. There was no risk she was not willing to take, figuring the worst that could happen would be that she would land up in the clinker. And that she did. But, being behind bars in Australia is one thing. And she was sentenced. But, Beth was not.a petty criminal, she was a communist, and little did she ever imagine what could happen to her.. I love this story of Wes and Beth.

This book, however, is also about Wes and Beth's families, and, about the Bride Tree community. Wes' sister Patty  was a nurse during the war, and post war, is working in hospitals in Hiroshima that treat people that are mostly suffering from the consequences of the radiation on their bodies. 

There are even more subplots in the book, and all of them are so interesting. Each story and all the characters grabbed my heart. I remain, after reading Bride of the Almond Tree, a huge fan of Robert Hillman and look forward to reading whatever he writes next.

Thank you #netgalley and @textpublishingcompany for my copy of #thebrideofthealmondtree in return for my honest review. 5 stars.
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<i>The Bride of Almond Tree</i> is a mild section between the pool of communism and nonviolence. The protagonist Beth Hardy is a strong-willed and independent woman who believes in the benefits of communism and fights with all her might for the rights of those who practice these politics. <i>The Bride of Almond Tree</i> is written by fiction and biography writer Robert Hillman.

Wes Cunningham, a quaker from Almond Tree, has just returned from World War II.  He sees Beth Hardy walking down the road and immediately falls in love with her.  Beth is a well-known as hard-working woman but she is also a communist with no interest in being married or keeping a household.   She immediately lets Wes know this when he approaches her.  Beth continues her communist activities and eventually ends up being put into a local prison where West visits her regularly.  While Beth is in prison she sent to Russia in an exchange between Russia and the Australian government.  Beth takes up a dissident cause in Russia and she is sent to a Russian prison where she is expected to die. Eventually she is released from prison in Russia but she is very traumatized because of the treatment she received while incarcerated.  Wes nurses her back to health.  Beth and Wes are married but they still must deal with the conflict between Beth‘s propensity towards communism and Wes‘s willingness to live the life of a quaker. 

The story is interesting but at times a little bit quiet and boring.  There’s not much action other than overriding concern for Beth.  The story is primarily a love story between Wes and Beth who are very different people but unavoidably attracted to each other. The development of the stories of the Quakers and the communists is quite interesting.   The author often uses parallels in some of their beliefs to show how the two are not so different. 

The character of Beth is very compelling because she is a very determined woman who fights for the rights of communism.  Even after she becomes disillusioned by Russia she maintains her communist principles.  This makes her quite an interesting.  I also enjoy the auxiliary characters who add interest to the story.

I recommend this book to people that love an emotional love story of commitment through adversity.   I give the book 3 on 5 primarily because it’s not in my interest area but it well written.  I want to thank NetGalley and the Text Publishing Company for providing me with a digital copy of this book.  I provide this review voluntarily.
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A great story of an Australian family, spread out across the world, battling the politics and brutality of war. At times, the story feels almost unbelievable, but the characters keep you invested. It felt like this book was an attempt at the classic double story line of so many other historical fiction novels, though it didn’t quite make it work. Ultimately it feels like there is the main story, and then a smaller story added to ensure parts of the global landscape at the time were included. Hard to really make the connection between the two stories outside of family ties. Regardless, great story and easy to get absorbed.
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After World War II is over, Wesley Cunningham, a Quaker, returns home to Almond Tree, Australia and all he wants to do is marry a local girl, Beth and live a peaceful life. Beth, however, has other ideas. Beth has become a vocal communist and she is not interested in marriage. Still, Wes hopes that maybe someday they will be together. As the years pass and they experience trials and trauma, together and apart, they manage to find a way to be together. A subplot about Wes's sister Patty, a nurse in post-war Hiroshima, is such a beautiful addition to this book. A powerful and moving novel.
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Post WWII, Wes and Patty are navigating their lives and their relationships as damaged people. 

Wes and Beth are two opposites and I honestly struggled with Beth as a character. Not that I disliked her, but she was sincerely off-putting at times. Her only redeeming quality was Wes and his absolute love and devotion to her. 

Patty and Kado however, were more interesting to me. As a Quaker, Patty is set to believe that God gives them one task in life. As a nurse during the war, she remains in Hiroshima afterward to continue to care for those who need help. I really felt that her and Kado's relationship was more genuine than that of Wes and Beth. 

It took me awhile to get into this book, but I stuck it out and was happy in the end.
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“The Bride of Almond Tree” by Robert Hillman tells the stories of two siblings - Wes and Patty. Both are Quakers, but both decided to work in/with the military - Wes as a soldier (probably more of a search/rescue type) and Patty as a nurse in post-bombed Hiroshima. Wes falls in love with neighbor Beth, who is a fierce Communist, and most of the story focuses on their relationship - exploring love, family, religion/faith, devotion to ideals, loyalty, and beliefs. Patty’s story, secondary in this novel, focuses on the many aspects of the bombing of Hiroshima, including the effects of radiation. This book takes place mainly in Australia, but large portions also take place in Russia and Japan.

I found Patty’s story to be the more calm and interesting one. Patty and Kado’s relationship seemed genuine, with shared interests. I also loved the character of “the master” and loved his wisdom and humor. I found Wes and Beth’s story to be interesting, but at times Beth’s stubbornness and “blinders on” outlook of life for lack of a better phrase, exhausted me. Her passion for her cause is obvious and Wes's devotion to her is also obvious, but something about their relationship didn't seem as genuine as the one in Patty's storyline.   

I did not expect this book to have so many religious discussions (Quaker, obviously, but also faith in general). I also felt that, at times, this book needed to advance the plot - it was more direct writing, opposed to moving writing. I did feel that the writing was better for Patty’s story opposed to fire-brand Beth’s sections. I found this book to be somewhere between two and three stars - it was an "okay" book for me overall.

If you like books set in Australia, reading about post-WWII, or reading more about history when “the Red Scare” was beginning, you may find this book interesting.
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This historical novel is set in the two decades post World War II, mostly in a rural Victorian town called Almond Tree but also Moscow and Hiroshima. The main characters are Wes Cunningham, a Quaker, now a builder, and was a soldier in New Guinea. His sister Patty was a nurse during the war and postwar is working in Hiroshima. The devastation and long term effects of radiation is explored and yes, made me cry. Wes falls in love with Beth from another Almond Tree family(not Quaker). Beth is smart, and a dedicated Communist, she goes to uni in Melbourne. The story follows their lives up to the early 60s. I found all the various aspects in this novel really interesting and enjoyed it way more than I expected to. Great characters and well written.
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Set in the aftermath of WWII, mostly in the 1950's and 1960's, in Almond Tree Australia, Hiroshima and Moscow, we get to know and follow the lives of Beth, Wesley and his sister Patty.
Wesley, a member of the small Quaker community of Almond Tree, just came back home from the war and hopes to marry Beth, the headstrong, 100% dedicated communist girl from Almond Tree, and finally his sister Patty who' after working as a nurse during the war decides to volunteer in Hiroshima and gets to see firsthand the devastation of the city and the lingering side effects of the radiation on the population.

Each of the characters live their live fulfilling their beliefs at their fullest, even if it means hardship and harsh circumstances, for Beth prison, exile to Moscow and torture, for Patty the heartache of widowhood and her baby daughter physical deformation because of radiation and for Wes, the heartache of unresponsive love and rejection.

At times raw and hard to read this book brings to live characters that resonate with the reader.
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