A Rich, Rewarding Read: Read an Extract from The Land Girls by Victoria Purman

A Rich, Rewarding Read: Read an Extract from The Land Girls by Victoria Purman

About the author:

Victoria Purman is a multi-published, award-nominated, Amazon Kindle-bestselling author. She has worked in and around the Adelaide media for nearly thirty years as an ABC television and radio journalist, a speechwriter to a premier, political adviser, editor, media adviser and private-sector communications consultant. She is a regular guest at writers’ festivals, has been nominated for a number of readers choice awards and was a judge in the fiction category for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Her most recent novels are The Three Miss Allens, published in 2016, The Last of the Bonegilla Girls (2018) and The Land Girls (2019).

Buy a copy of The Land Girls here // Read our review for The Land Girls here

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Extract:

Chapter One

Flora, December 1942

It was perhaps from a magpie chick, this soft thing nestled in Flora Atkins’s palm. Or a cockatoo, a sulphur-crested. It was weightless, lighter than a baby’s breath. As white as if it had been soaked in lemon juice; a puff of summer cloud suspended in her hand.When she exhaled, it danced and floated and she gently closed her fingers over it to keep it still.Perhaps someone had ripped it from a young chook, gripping and tearing this new feather out of puckered, pink flesh, before slipping it into an envelope, their rage still white hot. Or perhaps they’d done it calmly, in a pre-meditated fashion, before dipping a nib into an inkwell on their writing desk so they could slowly and calmly inscribe the word coward on a card and slip it inside the envelope with the feather.

The card sat on the kitchen table, propped up next to the china sugar bowl. Flora’s anger welled up inside her, stronger and harder, until she felt she might vomit.

‘Don’t they know?’

Her brother Jack sat, hunched over, his elbows on the table that was already set for dinner, his fingers in a tight knot. He hadn’t even taken off his suit jacket, and his flat cap still sat low on his forehead.

If their mother was alive, she would have chatted Jack about wearing his hat indoors, but she wasn’t there, hadn’t been for fifteen years, and all her careful household rules had fallen by the wayside.

‘Sit down, Flora.’ Their father, John, turned off the stove under the boiling kettle. He filled the teapot and carried it to the table, setting it on the trivet. ‘Cup of tea, love?’

She nodded. ‘Yes please.’

The radiogram was loud in the living room—some jolly music she supposed—but with the buzzing in Flora’s ears it was nothing but static. She pulled out a chair to sit down. She lowered the white feather next to her white gloves.

John filled Flora’s cup. She had craved it the entire walk home from the tram stop at Camberwell Junction to their house on Waterloo Street, but now she didn’t feel the slightest bit thirsty. Or hungry.

The three Atkinses stared at the feather, soft and beautiful and cruel.

‘Where did it come from?’ Flora finally asked.

‘Pardon?’ Jack asked, cocking his left ear in her direction.

‘I was asking,’ she said, slightly louder this time, ‘did it come in the letterbox?’ Her mind whirred. ‘You don’t think it was Mrs White, do you, or one of her daughters?’ The Whites from number thirty-seven had lost a son the year before in North Africa, at the siege of Tobruk. Flora’s heart sank at the idea. She and her father and Jack had mourned with the Whites at Tommy’s memorial service. His young wife had held her new baby in her arms and wailed.

John frowned and shook his head. His grey hair flopped over his forehead and he pushed it back with a hand. He looked older than his fifty-five years. The deep wrinkles carved on his cheeks were crevasses. His brown eyes, the ones that she and Jack and their younger brother Frank had inherited from him, were flat and watery. He looked old, Flora realised. Worn out. A wife long dead, one son off fighting the Japanese, another unable to, and his eldest a thirty-year-old spinster.

‘Your mother and Mrs White were friends. They went to school together. It couldn’t be them, Flora.’

‘Or … or,’ Flora stammered. ‘What about the Craigies? Don’t they still have cousins in London? Maybe something happened to them in the bombings and they—’

John held up a hand and Flora stopped. Her father’s words were quiet, considered. ‘I saw this during the last war. People on one side or the other about conscription. Should we force our boys to go and fight or not? I was too old and your mother and I had you kids by then. You two and Frank, of course.’ Her father probably wasn’t even aware he’d done it, but he’d blinked at the empty chair at the end of the table. ‘Baby Frank. That’s what we called him.’ A smile curved his mouth. ‘Even when he’d grown out of short pants.

‘We knew about the white feathers then. My uncle got one. He was lame from falling off a horse and couldn’t fight but that didn’t matter. And everyone was all high and mighty about putting on a uniform, fighting for the king. But then there was Gallipoli and Pozières and Ypres. And after that, a lot of people thought none of our blokes should ever be forced to go off and die for someone else’s war ever again.’

No one had forced Frank to go to war. He’d joined up back in July 1940 after the Battle of Britain had been all over the newspapers and the wireless. He’d come home one day, dirty from his work labouring on the dockyards, wearing a huge smile, which had only broadened when he told his family that he and his best mate Keith had enlisted.

‘They’ve smashed the Luftwaffe, Dad,’ he’d said, pacing the living room with a cigarette dangling from his lips, his flat cap waving in his other hand. ‘The Hurricanes and the Spitfires did their job, all right. Now, they’ve got to send Hitler all the way back to Berlin.’

He’d kissed them all goodbye, marched to the Victoria Barracks and enlisted, and in short order had been sent to Trawool in central Victoria for training. He’d written them a letter at the beginning of October, after the whole battalion had marched the entire one hundred and forty-three miles on foot from Trawool to Bonegilla on the banks of Lake Hume, saying it was the best adventure he’d ever had.

He’d written to them from Palestine and Syria and was now training in Queensland after the journey home on Laconia, preparing to head north to the jungle. Their father had pinned a map to the back of the kitchen door and every time he heard news on the wireless about the whereabouts or activities of the 2/11th Field Regiment of the 8th Division, he marked the spot with an X and the date in pencil.

Frank’s letters home were stored in a biscuit tin in the sideboard in the living room. He wasn’t prolific, never had been one for school or books, but the pile had grown steadily during the past two years.

Jack rubbed a hand over his face and pushed his cup of tea into the middle of the table. ‘The thing is, Dad, it’s not someone else’s war now. Not since the Japs bombed Darwin and made it into Sydney Harbour. They’re coming after us, right here in the Pacific and in South-East Asia. Curtin had the right idea, bringing Frank and all our boys back from Europe to protect us here at home. We can’t rely on the Poms to do it, can we? Not any more.’ Jack listened to everything, read all the accounts in The Age and The Herald, and even stood for ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ when it was played at the pictures right after ‘God Save The King’.

He might not be able to fight, but he kept himself informed. The war was hard to avoid. Signs of it were everywhere. Posters were plastered in shop windows and in trams and buses, urging young men to join up. ‘What are you doing to ensure victory for Australia, for Britain, for the Empire?’ they beckoned. ‘Are you satisfied that, come what may in the troubled months ahead, you will be proud of the part you played—be able to say—I did my best?’

There were advertisements in the newspaper, too, and even in the Women’s Weekly as Flora browsed recipes or the latest short stories. There was almost nowhere to escape the calls to duty, the reminders not to gossip, the newsreels that asked Australians to do all they could to help smash the Japs or send tanks in to crush Mussolini or to knock out Hitler.

‘What I don’t understand,’ Flora started, ‘is how on earth someone could slip this in the letterbox, knowing Frank’s off fighting. If they know you, how could they think—’

‘Flora.’ Jack hurriedly reached for his tea and the cup and saucer jumped and rattled. A wave of milky tea overflowed into the saucer. She looked across the table at him. His shoulders rose and fell. His lips were pulled together like the people in the posters—loose lips sink ships—and his eyes were hard and dark.

‘Jack. I was just trying to—’

‘You don’t need to be suspicious of anyone in our street.’ He removed his flat cap and held it tight in his fists. ‘It wasn’t the Whites or the Craigies or the Plummers or the Tilleys. Or anyone we know. During smoko today, a fine-looking young lady stepped in front of me on Swanston Street and handed that envelope to me.’

‘On Swanston Street?’ Flora asked, disbelieving.

Jack nodded, closing his eyes for a long moment. ‘When I saw her coming my way, I thought she was handing me a pamphlet, you see, so I took it and thanked her. She gave me a little smile, and I let myself think just for a minute how lucky I was that a pretty girl had given me the time of day. And that smile on her face? She looked like she was spreading the word of God or some kindness. Imagine that. I thought she was being kind. I thanked her.’

A pain radiated up into Flora’s throat, tightening it, and her heart seemed to crack inside her chest. ‘Did she say anything at all to you?’ she managed to say.

‘Not a word,’ Jack replied quietly. ‘She strode off, looking right bloody proud of herself. I opened it right there in front of the newspaper stand near the corner of Bourke Street.’

Since she’d been fifteen years old, Flora had cooked for all the men in her family, washed their clothes, ironed their shirts, made sure her father ate dinner and got out of the house every now and then, counselled her brothers when their hearts were broken and their knees were scraped. Frank was always getting into some misadventure or other. But never Jack. Lovely, kind Jack. When he had been so sick with meningitis at fourteen, she’d sat by his hospital bed for a week. In many ways, she had felt more like a parent to her younger brothers than a sibling, and a motherly instinct rose in her gut now, churning, stinging, and made the pounding in her head stronger and louder.

‘What a wretched young woman,’ she said finally.

Her father sighed. His teaspoon clinked in his teacup. He’d learnt to cut down on his sugar since rationing had been introduced, but he’d never got out of the habit of stirring his tea while he thought.

‘You’ve got that right, love. It must a sweet life, hey? To walk around Melbourne, all high and mighty, not knowing the facts about things,’ John said wearily, his voice hoarse with a controlled anger. ‘Jack’s in a reserved occupation. All customs agents are exempt. And a whole lot of other blokes are too. Tram drivers. And watchmakers. Did they know that?’

Jack tapped his right ear three times. ‘Dad, I couldn’t go even if I wanted to.’

They stared at the feather. When Flora exhaled, her breath caught it and it floated and then settled again. She reached for it quickly, snatched it into her fist and stuffed it into the pocket of her skirt.

She forced a smile. If she smiled, she wouldn’t cry. And she couldn’t cry now. ‘Let’s not think about it any more. People will always be ignorant and cruel and I’m not sure there’s much we can do about it but keep to our own business. I’ve had a long day typing letters for Mr McInerney about shipping insurance and now I’m starving,’ she lied. ‘Shall I make us some supper?’

‘There’s three eggs from Mrs Jones on the sink.’ John sat up straighter, his voice a little brighter. ‘She dropped by today. She had a letter from her son and wanted to tell me all the news.’

‘How’s Robin going?’ Jack asked, a note of false cheer in his tone too.

‘He’s keeping well, she says. Staying out of trouble.’

‘That’s good to hear,’ Flora said. ‘Nothing from Frank?’

‘Not today, Flora,’ John replied. ‘Not today.’

While she knew the army had more important things to do than ensure letters home arrived in a timely fashion, they hadn’t received a letter from Frank for a month. She tried not to think about what it might mean.

Flora went to the sink, pulled the blind and tugged the floral curtains closed against the approaching dark and the spying eyes of those enforcing blackout restrictions. Against those who presumed to make judgements about things they knew nothing about. Against those with white feathers. ‘Why don’t you both clean up? I’ll get supper going.’

After vegetable soup and toast with boiled eggs for dinner, John moved into the living room to sit in his comfortable armchair and listen to 3UZ and the nightly discussions about the war. He liked the company there. On the mantelpiece above the coal grate there was a framed photograph of Frank wearing his khaki army uniform, its sleeves proudly bearing the insignia of his regiment. Next to it, her parents’ wedding photo, taken in 1910 and a permanent fixture there every day since.

At the kitchen table, Flora sipped a cup of hot milk with Ovaltine, fighting her tiredness. She skimmed the headlines in the first few pages of The Age, trying not to take in too much detail about the war. Did knowing help at all with the worrying about what was happening overseas? And anyway, signs of it were everywhere she went in the city now. Melbourne had become the national headquarters of the Australian and American military, so the city—and the paper—could talk of nothing else. Shops advertised hamburgers and Coca-Cola to appeal to the thousands of Yanks at Camp Pell. Military cars and khaki lorries drove right through the centre of Melbourne and there seemed to be nowhere you could go without hearing an American accent. When the US troops had arrived in the months after Pearl Harbor, people in Melbourne were relieved. After the dark months of 1940, people knew that the English were too busy saving themselves to come to Australia’s aid, and all eyes had turned to the United States with their troops and planes and tanks to help protect Australia from invasion.

But it wasn’t just up to the Americans. Everyone was now being asked to do their bit to defend the country, and not just men. Women were being called on too, to release fit men from routine tasks to increase the frontline strength of Australia’s fighting forces. Flora had seen the advertisements in the newspapers encouraging women that they could do a real job, ‘A man’s job!’

She had so far been able to look away from those entreaties without feeling the call herself. She was thirty years old, and the army and the air force and the navy wanted younger women, those with a sense of adventure, those possessed with courage and bravery. They didn’t want women like Flora who’d spent the best part of the past fifteen years living a quiet life in Camberwell worrying over her father and brothers.

Flora turned the pages of the newspaper, quickly flicking past the death notices until she reached the Women’s Section. She couldn’t even escape the war there. There was a call for more women doctors for the RAAF, and an article offering handy sewing patterns for the remodelling of clothes. It was better to make do and mend than use rations to buy new garments, it advised.

A headline caught her eye: ‘More Leaders for the Land Army’.

She lifted the paper so she could properly read the fine print. With paper in short supply, the print had become so small—and the brownouts made everything so dim—that she thought she might need glasses sooner rather than later. Land Army girls were going to orchards, flax mills and poultry farms. She remembered she’d seen a poster in the window of the post office on Burke Road. Her attention had been captured by the image of a young woman waving a pitchfork speared with wheat stalks, wearing a hat with a pin on the brim. She was smiling proudly in the sunshine with blue cloudless skies overhead.

‘Do you need a hand cleaning up?’

She looked up to see Jack standing in the doorway.

‘Well, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.’ Flora folded the newspaper, put it on top of the icebox to save for the butchers on Saturday, and went to the sink. As it filled, she sprinkled soap flakes into the water and watched them bubble. Jack moved in next to her, on her right side so he could hear her with his left ear. One by one, she slowly washed each dish with a rag, her mind in a million places and none at all.

They worked in silence, voices from the radiogram in the next room a muffled background noise. Jack stacked the bowls and bread-and-butter plates in the cupboard next to the ice chest. He was amiable company, always had been. She glanced sideways at him as he wiped. He’d been taller than her since the year their mother had died, when he’d turned twelve and Frank ten. They not only shared the same brown eyes, but the same light brown hair of their mother. Flora liked having something of her mother’s. She’d faded in Flora’s memory after so many years, her voice now only a whisper in her memory. She’d lost the taste of her scones and her homemade lemon butter and the warmth of her embrace. They had been a close family, still were, yet she and Jack had grown even closer since Frank had gone to war. Their mother’s premature death had already taught them that loved ones could be lost in the blink of an eye. They knew to hold on tight to each other.

Flora swirled the suds in the sink and searched for the knives and spoons. ‘Did you read The Phantom today?’

‘The ghost who walks? Man who cannot die?’ Jack’s voice took on a dramatic tone.

‘Which evildoer is he vanquishing this month?’

Jack laughed and Flora let herself feel happy for a moment, the gloom over the day’s events lifting just a little.

‘You don’t have to worry about me. I’m all right, Flor,’ he said. ‘Really.’ He picked up a bread-and-butter plate and wiped it in a neat circular motion.

‘Let me be angry for you, if you can’t be angry for yourself.’

He nudged her shoulder with his. ‘Spoken like a true big sister. I can’t say it doesn’t cut me up, make me think of the sacrifices Frank is making that I can’t, but what you said before? About people being ignorant and cruel but that we just have to keep to our own business? That’s what I’m doing. This isn’t the first time I’ve had looks from people, accusing me of skiving off.’ He shook his head, as if it might wish the thoughts and the memories away. ‘You see, Flor, my problem is and will always be that I look perfectly healthy on the outside. Tall. Strong. Bloody handsome, even.’

Flora laughed, felt a swell of pride in her chest. She’d watched him grow and flourish and thrive, despite his hearing loss and the teasing and taunting he’d received because of it. She lifted her shoulder and pressed her face into the fabric, pretending it was a bubble from the sink she was wiping away and not a tear. ‘And don’t forget, humble too.’

‘No one can tell by looking at me that the hearing’s half gone.’

‘No, they can’t. Which is all the more reason for them to mind their own business. What makes me angry is … people should know better, that’s all, before they rush to judgement. Appearances can be deceiving.’

‘So they should, and if we could change the world, perhaps that’s where we’d start, hey? But let’s talk about something else. How was your day at the office?’

‘Oh, you know. The work never stops. Especially now.’ The discussion about the feather was over, but that didn’t mean she would forget it in a hurry. ‘I went for a walk at lunchtime. The sun was shining for a minute or two so I thought I’d take advantage. I went up to Bourke Street to stretch my legs, stared at the Myer windows and wished they were full of pretty dresses like they were before the war, and then I hurried back to the office to eat my cheese sandwich at my desk. At afternoon smoko, I had to give one of the young girls a bit of a talking to. Norma. Pretty thing. She likes to talk. All the time.’

Jack raised a brow. ‘Did you say pretty?’

‘Yes, she’s quite the dish. Blonde, almost white hair, and such a petite little thing. But sadly for you, Jack, she has a sweetheart. He’s a butcher’s apprentice, so he’s exempt too. We hear about him all day long. Endlessly. Apparently he makes a rather delicious mutton sausage.’ Flora rolled her eyes and Jack burst into laughter. She loved the sound of it, loved that she was able to make him laugh, that in the middle of a war there was still time for a joke.

Flora stared into the soap suds, popping the bubbles between her slick fingers. She had tried very hard not to envy Norma her youth and her beauty and her luck. Sometimes, Flora felt as if she were the last one left at a game of musical chairs, although when the music finally stopped, she was left standing all alone with no prize.

‘I had to take young Norma aside and remind her about office etiquette. Mr McInerney prefers me to do the disciplining, you see. He thinks of the new girls like his granddaughters, he told me. Wants them all to adore him. What we both know is that if they’re unhappy with the work, he’ll lose them to something far more exciting that pays more, like the services or munitions factories.’

Jack shook his head in disgust. ‘So he leaves you to do all his dirty work?’

‘I’m rather forbidding, apparently.’

‘You’re telling me.’

Flora was, by a good ten years, the oldest woman in her office. One by one, each of the young girls had fallen in love, married and left, and it had become Flora’s responsibility to train up every new girl and supervise them, with not a shilling extra in her pay packet. Even the young male clerks continued to earn more than she did.

‘Flora?’

‘Hmmm?’

Jack hung the damp tea towel on the hook on the back of the kitchen door. ‘You’re off in the clouds again, aren’t you?’

‘I’m tired, that’s all.’ She pulled the plug and the water gurgled down the drain. How self-indulgent it was to allow herself a moment to wallow over her life when Frank and thousands of other men and women were putting theirs at risk. Her problems seemed so inconsequential in comparison.

‘Do you think he’s all right?’ Jack asked after a moment.

Flora forced a smile. ‘You know Frank as well as I do. He’s no doubt charming the pants off everyone he meets. God forbid he should ever meet a nurse.’

They leant back against the sink.

‘He’s going to come home, Flora. If anyone will, it’ll be our Frank. The Japs wouldn’t dare take a shot at him.’

‘We shall not let ourselves think otherwise.’ Flora hoped that the repetition of the sentiment might help it come true.

‘So, what are you up to tonight, Flor? Going out to the pictures or something?’

‘I have some war knitting to do. That’ll keep me occupied until my eyes simply won’t stay open any longer. Which will probably be,’ Flora checked the clock on the wall, ‘in about an hour, the way I feel.’

‘C’mon, don’t be such a bore. There’s a dance on at the Trocadero. Why don’t you put on a pretty frock and come with me? There are two bands on the line-up and there’ll be dancing all night. I might even whirl you around the dance floor myself.’

Flora jabbed Jack with an elbow. ‘No, thank you. You’ll be too busy fighting off all the young ladies of Melbourne to be bothered dancing with me. Handsome men are in such short supply these days, Jack, which means your chances of finding partners are vastly improved.’

She knew immediately that she’d said the wrong thing. ‘Oh, Jack, I didn’t think—’

‘It’s all right, Flor. I know what you meant.’

Flora collected herself. ‘I’m perfectly happy to stay right here with Dad, listening to the radio and knitting socks.’

‘You and your socks.’ Jack grinned. ‘I reckon you’ve knitted enough for the entire AIF. You are allowed to have fun, you know.’

Flora found knitting to be a nice distraction from all that worried her. Without her mother to teach her, she’d struggled at first, having to unravel her first two attempts after making a right mess of the heel. But she was patient and committed and had found it easy going after that. Knitting had helped pass the time on nights too numerous to count. It had helped distract her from her loneliness, from thoughts of Frank. Her father quietly smoking. Songs on the wireless. Stitch after stitch. Row after row. Sock after sock. The routine quieted her mind. She tried to imagine the soldiers receiving her gift and how happy they’d be to have something clean and new. Socks were about warmth and comfort. She’d also tried muffs and balaclavas, but couldn’t come at knitting the fingerless gloves in the instruction books. Trigger gloves, they were called.

‘I don’t feel like heading out. Anyway, I’m too old for fun.’ Flora had never liked crowds particularly, didn’t go to the football because of it, and Melbourne bustled now, every minute of the day and night, even with the blackouts. Sometimes she didn’t recognise her own city.

‘Forget about me,’ Flora told her brother. ‘Go and have a good time at your dance.’

‘You sure?’

‘I’m sure.’ As if to reinforce the point, she stifled a yawn.

‘Enjoy your night then. Knit one, purl one,’ Jack said, leaving Flora standing by the sink with a damp tea towel over her shoulder.

‘Jack,’ she called out.

At the doorway, he turned.

‘Empty the drip tray under the icebox before you go, won’t you? It’s almost full.’

‘Will do,’ Jack replied.

‘And not down the sink. Pour it on the war cabbage in the front garden.’

‘You are forbidding.’ He winked.

Later that night, after Flora had admired the perfectly shaped khaki heel on her umpteenth pair of socks, she roused her sleepy father from his armchair and urged him to go to bed. She turned off the wireless, emptied his ashtray, took his teacup into the kitchen, checked the doors were locked and turned out the low lamp in the living room.

With a net pinned over her short hair, she tucked herself into bed with an old Agatha Christie novel, but the words swam and she couldn’t concentrate on any of the twists and turns of the plot.

Their little house in Camberwell was quiet but her mind wasn’t.

The image of the white feather burnt behind her closed eyes. When she’d gone to her bedroom to fetch her knitting earlier in the evening, she’d opened the top drawer of her dressing table and placed it inside her wooden jewellery box. It fluttered alongside her mother’s string of pearls and matching pair of clip-on earrings that Flora loved so much but never wore any more, and a cameo brooch that had belonged to her grandmother, her mother’s mother, from the Wimmera. Both women were long gone.

Flora remembered her anger, her pure, white-hot fury at the cruelty of the young woman who had handed the envelope to her brother.

Coward? Jack was anything but. That night, Flora could only swallow her anger, learn to live with it, and try not to let it make her rage.

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                      Synopsis

                      A moving story of love, loss and survival against the odds by bestselling author of The Last of the Bonegilla Girls, Victoria Purman.It was never just a man's war...Melbourne,1942War has engulfed Europe and now the Pacific, and Australia is fighting for its future. For spinster Flora Atkins, however, nothing much has changed. Tending her dull office job and beloved brother and father, as well as knitting socks for the troops, leaves her relatively content. Then one day a stranger gives her brother a white feather and Flora's anger propels her out of her safe life and into the vineyards of the idyllic Mildura countryside, a member of the Australian Women's Land Army.There she meets Betty, a 17-year-old former shopgirl keen to do her bit for the war effort and support her beloved, and the unlikely Lilian, a well-to-do Adelaide girl fleeing her overbearing family and the world's expectations for her. As the Land Girls embrace their new world of close-knit community and backbreaking work, they begin to find pride in their roles. More than that, they start to find a kind of liberation. For Flora, new friendships and the singular joy derived from working the land offer new meaning to her life, and even the possibility of love.But as the clouds of war darken the horizon, and their fears for loved ones - brothers, husbands, lovers - fighting at the front grow, the Land Girls' hold on their world and their new-found freedoms is fragile. Even if they make it through unscathed, they will not come through unchanged...
                      Victoria Purman
                      About the author

                      Victoria Purman

                      Victoria Purman is a multi-published, award-nominated, Amazon Kindle-bestselling author. She has worked in and around the Adelaide media for nearly thirty years as an ABC television and radio journalist, a speechwriter to a premier, political adviser, editor, media adviser and private-sector communications consultant. She is a regular guest at writers’ festivals, has been nominated for a number of readers choice awards and was a judge in the fiction category for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Her most recent novels are The Three Miss Allens, published in 2016, The Last of the Bonegilla Girls (2018) and The Land Girls (2019).

                      Books by Victoria Purman

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