Cover Image: The Buchanan Girls

The Buchanan Girls

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Member Reviews

‘Will the truth destroy her, or set her free?’

Emily Madden has done it again! I raved about her previous books and once again she has produced an absolutely stunning story. The Buchanan Sisters is a tale of epic proportions, a family saga detailing the story of twin sisters with the themes of war and sacrifice, betrayal and forgiveness.

‘Australia may have entered the war with her sons, but it was becoming clear that it was up to her daughters to help her pull through.’

A dual time narrative set in both 1941 and 2008 I loved and lost myself in the historical aspect of the story, yet at the same time, enjoyed and sympathised with the contemporary tale. It takes a great author to cleverly meld two timelines and Emily’s finesse as a writer is evident to all as she deftly weaves and brings them together resulting in both tears and smiles. 

‘She inhaled deeply and gathered the strength to slip into the past, just one last time.’

This is a truly heart-wrenching tale, one that I will definitely revisit. My heart was full of the characters, their friendships and relationships. The story of Ivy and Olive, twins so very different and with dreams that would never go to plan. This is such quality historical fiction as Emily draws the reader into her characters with the events and the attitudes of the era combining for dramatic effect. One cannot help but become a part  of their story and, whether you see it coming or not, an ending that will leave you breathless. 

‘He held his breath then. He had meant every word. And now there was nothing more to do, nothing more to say, except wait and hope.’

The Buchanan Girls is an exceptional novel, there is just so much to love here that I cannot recommend it highly enough to people who love a story rich in drama, history and romance. So do yourself a favour and read some of Emily’s books, you won’t be disappointed. 

‘She didn’t know what their future held, what it looked like, or if she was making a big mistake. But what she did know was that not taking a risk … may yield greater regret.’
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This is a book of two parts, one part is about 2 sisters (twins), Ivy and Olive and how their lives were lived in 1942/43 and the other revolves around Madeline who has been betrayed by her husband and moves back to Sydney in 2008 to sort herself out.

I love the way the story evolves and grows while the characters grow within the story.  I love the characters, friendships and relationships that formed throughout the story and I love that Ivy and Olive are so totally different and wanting to lead such different lives.  But things don't always turn out as they plan.  

Then there is Madeline who returns home to Sydney to be near her mother and grandmother after her husband cheats on here, but through a new job and new friends discovers secrets from the past.  This is a smaller story in the book but is as always a part of the bigger picture.

This book takes you on their journeys, it grabs you and pulls you into to their worlds.  Eventually the two stories come together as one and all will be revealed.  

A well written book with a story that is almost believable for the times but in the end I felt it was a bit far-fetched.  This didn't detract from the story but I was a bit annoyed that towards the end Leo and his family (his family didn't really get much of a mention) seemed a forgotten/left out part of the story.  But then again this was a story about 'The Buchanan Girls'.
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Set across two time periods, this novel follows the story of Madeline in 2008 who is trying to recover from learning her husband has cheated on her and that of identical twins Olive and Ivy in the 1940s, who may look the same but have very different personalities. In her quest to avoid her husband, Madeline is drawn to an elderly lady  who has a photo of someone who looks very similar to her father. This uncovers a lifetime of lies and links back to the identical Buchanan girls. A great story.
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Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this book for an honest review.

What a heartbreaking book.  Loved the parallel stories of Ivy and Madeline. Definitely recommended!
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A sweeping family saga about betrayal, forgiveness and the cost of love.
Sydney, 1941:Olive and Ivy may be identical twins,but they couldn't be more different.While Olive is focused on marrying a man appropriate to her station,Ivy wants to do more, to be more.Joining the Australian Women's Army Service is the perfect chance for her to escape her family obligations and make a real difference in the world. She doesn't expect serving her country to lead to romance...or devastating betrayal and unthinkable grief.As the war progresses, both Olive and Ivy find themselves wanting the same thing:for their loves to return safely.But neither of the Buchanan girls is ready for what the future has in store for them.Sydney, 2008:Escaping her husband's betrayal and an impossible personal loss, Madeline returns home to Sydney to nurse her broken heart.As she settles into her new routine,it's too easy to consider never returning to New York and her old life.But her husband won't give up on what they have so easily,and Madeline can't ignore his messages reminding her of why they fell in love in the first place.With her grandmother's support,Madeline has to decide if forgiveness means reconciliation.But is the biggest betrayal yet to come?It was great to see Jack Reid from Heart of the Cross again.Sir Percy Spender, Australia’s Minister for the Army, considered women to be an underutilised resource in Australia’s war effort. Consequently, he approved the formation of the AWAS on 13 August 1941 with the objective of releasing more men into forward areas.Many of the women who entered the AWAS had previously been in the WANS(Women's Australian National Service). Members of the AWAS took on roles such as drivers, provosts, canteen workers, cooks, typists, signallers, and cipher clerks.There were other unusual roles, such as a Japanese translator, a veterinary surgeon, and an anthropologist who liaised with Indigenous groups.Lieutenant Colonel Sybil Howy Irving was appointed as Controller of the AWAS in October 1941.Americans came to help Australia in the Pacific theatre,and they had a considerable social impact.Hate the sin,but love the sinner.
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I would give The Buchanan Girls six stars if I possibly could. Author Emily Madden has written a story that is intriguing, engaging and emotionally satisfying, though it drove me to tears at the end. Identical twin sisters Olive and Ivy could not have been more different if they tried, perhaps because of their upbringing. The death of their mother shortly after Ivy’s birth seems to have shaped the attitudes of their grandmother Prudence, an entitled cow in my opinion, and their father George. Where nothing is too good for Olive, who soon develops an entitled attitude herself, the complete opposite applies to Ivy. 
Their story unfolds as a dual timeline mystery, the earlier part set in Sydney and Townsville during World War II and the second part set in Sydney during 2008, where Madeline Harris has retreated after discovering her husband’s infidelity. Seamless steps from wartime to the present and back keep readers on their toes as the mystery around Olive’s and Ivy’s lives is slowly revealed. This is a truly heart-wrenching story yet it is one that I will definitely be revisiting. It has so much going for it that I found it very hard to put the book down and move onto another.
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⭐ REVIEW ⭐ 

The Buchanan Girls by Emily Madden 

I have read many WWII based historical fiction novels, but this is definitely in a league of its own. 

Two storylines woven together so perfectly, the second half had me flipping so quickly to see how indeed it would all come together. 

I really enjoyed it being set in Australia, and that the war itself took a bit of a back seat to the relationships that were being made and shattered in both the past and present. 

Ivy was such a fabulous character, wanting so much more from her life than her twin, Olive. And I must say, I have never despised a character quite like I despised Olive. Such a well written evil person. 

My heart was fully invested and by the end I was a bit of a mess 😭 

I look forward to chatting about this beautiful book in the Facebook group, Read Along With Lisa Ireland, in the coming months. 

Highly recommend 
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Emily Madden has written another awesome story it was a compelling read for me I could barely put it down as we go from 1941 with twins Olive and Ivy to 2008 with Madeline it is a story filled with secrets, heartbreak and betrayal and a must read.

1941 in Sydney twins Olive and Ivy are identical but so very different in personality, Olive has her heart set on marrying someone from her station in life and all is happening but Ivy wants more she wants to help with the war so joins up with the Australian Woman’s Service Army much to the horror of Olive, she is sent to Townsville in Queensland and here she meets some of the best friends and also finds the love of her life, that was something she wasn’t looking for.

2008 in Sydney and Madeline has flown home to Sydney after living in New York with her husband Evan for five years, she needs time to think after being badly hurt by Evan and working through the tragedy that hurt them both, she soon settles into a routine with the help from her beloved grandmother, it is not long before Madeline is forced to re-think her life when strange happenings occur and she meets a lovely lady at the local nursing home.

Ivy never imagined what would happen to her life with her decision to join up, she had the best times in Townsville and the visits to Magnetic Island finally she had such wonderful friends and there was Leo, but someone else had other plans. My heart went out to Ivy beautiful inside and out giving her happiness for others and suddenly life really changed, there were secrets that had to be kept nothing would be the same again.

Emily Madden writes stories that have so many emotions, she can pull a read in with her words and I fell into this one I felt so many emotions reading this one, the characters are all so very real there were tears and frustration from me and anger at times and that to me is the sign of a fabulous story I felt so much reading this one. It is a story of betrayal, secrets and was heart-wrenching at times but there was so much happiness at times that I smiled as well.

This is a story that I would highly recommend, it is one not to be missed, it is so beautifully written, and I loved it.

My thanks to Publisher and Netgalley for my copy to read and review
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‘When Andrew Buchanan returned home from the Great War with a bride in tow, his parents were not pleased to say the least.’

In July 1924, Andrew’s wife Louisa gives birth to identical twin girls: Olive and Ivy. Tragically, Louisa dies, and while Andrew does the best he can for his daughters, Ivy grows up feeling responsible for her mother’s death. Olive is the daughter favoured by both her father and grandmother. Olive is engaged at 17 and then marries her fiancé before he departs Australia to serve in the Army. Ivy wants to do more, and passing herself as being 18, joins the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS). She does so against her father’s wishes. Ivy starts to establish a life for herself in the barracks at Townsville, making friends with her colleagues. At a dance one night, she meets Leo, an American serviceman.

In 2008, Madeline returns to Sydney from New York. She has discovered that her husband cheated on her after the devastating loss of their baby and needs space to come to terms with both losses. Once in Sydney, Madeline is tempted to stay and never return to New York. But her husband Evan keeps sending her reminders of significant dates and she wonders why. Her grandmother provides a sympathetic ear and then Madeline learns of secrets within her family, secrets which will make her think about her relationship with Evan.

The story shifts between 1941 and 2008, between the lives of Ivy and Madeline. As the earlier story unfolds, Ivy makes many sacrifices for Olive. In the later story, Madeline learns about the past as she comes to terms with her own life and choices.

I enjoyed this novel with its dual timelines. I found Olive incredibly selfish and frustrating, felt sorry for Ivy and wondered what choices Madeline would make.

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

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Loved this charming read that spans from World War Two to the early 2000s - the story of identical twins, their lost loves, secrets and more which has ramifications for generations to come. This book is for lovers of contemporary and historical fiction alike and is such a joy to read that you'll be finished before you realise it and then disappointed that there isn't more to come. Emily Madden is definitely a talent to watch out for!
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this book was such an interesting read and I loved the fact that it was about Aussie girls! it was an emotional tale and was a great sorry to read about. I loved how it was based in two different times in society and it was very intriguing that I couldn't put the book down. It is a must read!
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Sydney 1941.
Olive and Ivy Buchanan are identical twins, they might look very similar and they have very different personalities. Olive’s the eldest, she's very spoilt and extremely demanding. Ivy lives in her sister’s shadow, to keep the peace she lets Olive boss her around and get her own way. Olive wants to marry well, she’s engaged to Corporal Lawson Fraser, and the weddings brought forward when Lawson’s deployed to Singapore. Ivy has to help Olive prepare for her wedding, it’s to be a lavish celebration and only the best will do for her sister.

Ivy has her own plans, she wants to join the Australian Women’s Army Service, to escape Sydney, to be free from Olive's demands and serve her country. Ivy sets off for basic training, it involves, early starts, drills, learning to march, being away from home for the first time and Ivy thrives in her new environment. Ivy’s sent to Townsville in Queensland, here she meets fellow AWAS members Dottie, Mavis and Gwen, they become friends and visit beautiful Magnetic Island. Stationed nearby is the American Southern Bomber Command and Ivy meets handsome pilot Lieutenant Leo Hamilton, both of the Buchanan sisters fall in love during WW II and hearts will be broken.

Sydney, 2008.
Madeline Harris leaves New York, devastated by her husband Evan’s betrayal, and she returns home to Sydney and needs the support of her mother Carolyn and her grandmother Olive. She starts looking for a place of her own, Madeline finds a furnished one bedroom apartment and the real estate agent informs her it’s haunted. The apartments and nearby Stepping Stones School have been built on the grounds of the old Bedlam Bay Lunatic Asylum and that could explain the ghost sightings. Evan won’t give up, he sends her text messages, reminding her of important dates and times they shared together. But Madeline’s extremely hurt, she’s not ready to speak to her husband and doesn’t know if she will return to New York. The one person Madeline can always rely on for guidance is her grandmother, when she discovers her grandmother has herself been keeping a secret for over sixty five years and she’s shocked. 

The Buchanan Sisters is an epic Australian family saga about the connection twin sisters have, betrayal, sacrifice, war, secrets, forgiveness, how to make peace with the past, being able to move forward and make important decisions about the future.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Harlequin Australia in exchange for an honest review, The Buchanan Girls is now my favorite book by Emily Madden and five stars from me. I have shared my review on Goodreads, Twitter, Amazon Australia, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, on my Facebook page and my bog.
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Absolutely wonderful character driven plot about twin Sisters Ivy & Olive in a dual timeline novel set in 1920 and 2008.

Ivy and Olive were born into a prestigious family, but unfortunately Olive was always the shining light and Ivy was the neglected sister in her family's eyes. While one sister strived for social standing and position, the other had a social conscience and decided to join the Australian Womens Army Service.
Both find love but secrets and tragedy are present in both their lives.

Meanwhile Madeline returns home to Australia after her husband cheats on her in New York. She is still grieving the loss of their baby while pregnant and decides to take on a part time position helping children with disabilities at a nearby school which is built on the grounds of an old asylum. While there she meets Gwen and spots a photograph of what looks like her grandmother. Therein the two worlds collide and much is revealed.

I literally could not put this book down. The stories of the two sisters were horrifying in parts and the sacrifices that were made were unbelievable! I thought I knew exactly who was whom but there were twists and turns galore. I have read all of Emily's books and I swear she gets better and better with each book. Even though this is set in a historical era, the story really revolves around the girls and their lives which I was fully invested from start to finish.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia and Net Galley for the copy of this book for review purposes.
5* from me.
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This book was definitely worth the wait, what an amazing story.

I loved the dual timeline in the story, 1941 Sydney, identical twins Ivy and Olive couldn’t be more different. Ivy wants to do more with her life than just marry. Olive on the other hand can’t wait to be a wife. Jumping forward to 2008, Madeline returns home to Sydney escaping from her husband and his unforgivable betrayal.

I loved how Emily Madden wrote the dual timeline drip feeding information from the past in the present, keeping you guessing as to what happened to Olive and Ivy and how Madeline fits into the equation.

Around page 250, I was audibly gasping when a description on a headstone is revealed. It lead to a very late night as I needed to keep reading until I found out what had happened. This book will definitely leave you with a sense of awe at how brilliantly it was written.

A big thank you for kindly gifting me an ARC of this book.
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What a spectacular story! This is Emily Madden’s fourth novel and although all her books are heart stirring and well written, this one steps up to a whole new level of design, depth and desire. It focuses on family, friendships, identity, secrets, war, love, sacrifice, betrayal and healing.

This dual timeline novel of one family, past and present, has a natural style that flows back and forth in time and space with ease. The author has obviously taken great care to achieve this seamless transition. 

In the first timeline of 2008, we meet Madeline: a future relative (of the historical cast) who delivers a touching tumultuous story through her own point of view. Her life is laced with heartache, betrayal, disappointment, indecision and frustration. Will the challenges she faces inspire growth, provide forgiveness, understanding and a fresh start? A choice cannot be made until she confronts obstacles and faces facts that aim to change her thinking. Throughout her struggle, we feel her every emotion. She has entrusted her heart to two men to keep her safe. But as the conflict within heightens, (even mirrored in the weather!) the effects of grief from betrayal and death intensify, too. Will she overcome her pain and make the right choice? A new secret unveils and shines a light on her shadowy path.

The second timeline is set against the backdrop of World War II, where we meet twin sisters, Olive and Ivy: two very different people with seemingly adverse ambitions. One sister rules the home and all those in her domain. She wishes to be served, married and well-kept in the style to which she is accustomed. The other sister, Ivy, carries the stigma of being the second born and is seen as causing her mother’s death. She tries to prove her worth, fights for independence and strives to play a valuable role that will make a difference. To achieve this, much to her family’s horror, she joins the Australian Women’s Army Service. But the pull to ‘serve’ a ‘spoiled’ sister and take care of her endless needs is embedded in Ivy’s DNA. As a result, responsibility and sibling love run interference with her own chosen path. Ivy is caught in two battles: one within her family and the other on the physical battle field. Will she find the courage to step out and live her own life and follow her dreams? An unexpected plot twist adds even more complexity and layers to her dilemma.

The historical timeline is smooth, even effortless, in its narration with the point of view shared between two inspiring characters: hard-working, black sheep twin, Ivy Buchanan and dedicated, determined pilot Lieutenant Leo Hamilton of the American Southern Bomber Command unit. Leo becomes Ivy’s love interest after they meet during WW II in the 1940s. Together, they deliver a powerful picture of the past. 

This well-rounded character cast draws such emotion from the reader, that we truly care about them and even get frustrated with their actions, reactions and demises! We feel empathy for the wounded parties and rejoice when skies turn brighter. We hope for positive outcomes and are shattered when these characters experience grief and loss. This is a mark of quality writing. It is crystal clear that the author has poured her heart and soul into these characters. For once leaving her imagination, they have taken on a believable shape and life on the printed page.

A few other notables are featured in this novel. The horrors of the Asylum are explored and its tragedies echo through history—to the point its restless souls haunt the living. These passages are powerful and at times painful to view for although our minds and hearts want to fight against the truth of the past, we know great atrocities happened in these places: some actions through ignorance and others that were deliberate.

Another, though more light hearted reference, is the cultural differences between Australians and Americans noted by the excellent phrase and word comparisons from each side. Initially these outside influences are annoying to Ivy—possibly because she is always fighting for independence and trying to step away from any help sent to her. This spills over into her views of country aid. But ultimately she learns the importance of teamwork and that people from the opposite sides of the sea want the same thing: peace. Learning another’s culture then becomes a more positive and sometimes playful experience where the two coincide in a sort of happy harmony.

The author has used Australian settings to her advantage. Her worldbuilding is done with great respect for the past. Meticulous details are assured and delivered with care. Along with a wonderful cast of characters who flesh out this story, wringing every emotion from tightly spun plots, there are many twists and surprises that will leave you guessing to the end—including a powerful secret that will knock you off your seat. There are lots of tears, regrets and remorse plus a revival of hearts where ghosts arise but are laid to rest. Yet not in the way you’d expect. The two timelines eventually overlap and blend together to create a satisfying, though surprising, ending. You will not want to put this book down!

I totally recommend this novel to all who love exceptional dual timeline novels with passion, purpose and heart. Thanks to HarperCollins Australia and Netgalley for an ARC to review.
5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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When identical twins Olive and Ivy were born, their mother died. Their father Andrew did his best with the girls, but Ivy always felt second best to her sister. She also blamed herself for her mother’s death. So, when they were seventeen, Olive was engaged and then married to her beau, but Ivy wanted to do more. It was 1941 and war was on their doorstep. So, Ivy joined the AWSA – Australian Women’s Service Army – against her father’s and Olive’s wishes, passing herself off as eighteen. When she arrived in Townsville in Queensland, she settled into the barracks well, making friends easily and it wasn’t too long before she was really close to Gwen, Dottie and Mavis, working together and relaxing together. But it was when the girls went to a dance and saw the ‘Yanks’ – handsome and friendly – and Ivy met Leo that her life began to change.

Sydney 2008 and Madeline had just returned home from New York where her cheating husband was, where her job and their lives were. They had experienced a devastating loss and Evan reacted in a way that shocked Madeline. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever forgive him but being home with her family might help her come to terms with her grief. As Madeline moved forward, she discovered there were secrets in her family, secrets she’d had no idea about. Would she be able to reconcile with the past, to make sense of what was happening in her life and in her family’s life?

The Buchanan Girls is a novel set in both 1941 and 2008 by Aussie author Emily Madden and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the story immensely, felt incredibly sorry for Ivy, and angry and frustrated with Olive. Townsville and beautiful Magnetic Island where the army, air force and AWSA members had their R&R was divine. The tying together of the two time-frames was beautifully done and I felt sadness as well as satisfaction. The Buchanan Girls is an exceptional novel which I highly recommend.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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I love a good family saga, but sometimes struggle with relating to the historical side. This one had an interesting premise, and I love stories about sisters (twins an added bonus!) so I gave it a go and I loved it! The characters were richly portrayed, relatable, and the storyline was interesting. This is one book I definitely recommend. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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