An unforgettable heroine and a slow-burning, beautiful romance.
It’s 1871, Adelaide Greaves and her former maid and now friend, Netty, have left England and found sanctuary in the Australian town of Maiden’s Creek. 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. She works as the local postmistress and raises her son Danny, and over the years builds a life she loves and is proud of in the small community.
Caleb Hunt is a battle worn Confederate soldier who has arrived in town from America in search of gold. Soon after his arrival he injures himself saving Danny from a runaway horse, and ends up recuperating at Adelaide’s home. Caleb has a dark past he’s dealing with, as does Adelaide. Adelaide’s initial reluctance turns to attraction and respect as she gets to know Caleb. But Adelaide finds it difficult to trust. Can Adelaide trust him? Can she trust anyone?
Over time, Caleb becomes a respected member of the Maiden’s Creek community, cemented when smallpox arrives in town and he reveals he’s studied medicine, although his credentials are out of date. Along with the local doctor, he deals with the isolated smallpox case, and then helps vaccinate the rest of the community. Then, while the local doctor departs for Melbourne to make the smallpox report in person, Caleb is left in charge of the town practice. During this time, he builds a budding romance with Adelaide and a friendship with her son. The restraint of this potential romance is beautifully juxtaposed against the harsh Australian environment, and the town’s pubs and brothels.
But things become extremely complicated when someone from Adelaide’s past makes a shock appearance in town leaving Adelaide with a heartbreaking choice to make. And Caleb too must make a choice when he becomes privy to some vital information that will save Adelaide from making the worst mistake of her life.
The Postmistress is a highly enjoyable read. Do yourself a favour and curl up with a coffee and take a trip back in time to Victoria’s goldmining era. It is Alison Stuart’s first historical to be set in Australia, and thanks to meticulous research she brings the goldmining era and the fictional town of Maiden’s Creek to life.
Promoted for readers of The Thorn Birds, The Naturalist’s Daughter and The Widow of Ballarat, the novel also reminded me of my favourite Australian historical romance, now a classic, The Exiles by Vivian Stuart. Perhaps it’s the same surname, but Alison Stuart’s marvellous novel has the same great pace and sense of place, with an unforgettable heroine and a slow-burning, beautiful romance.
About the author
Australian author Alison Stuart began her writing journey halfway up a tree in the school playground with a notebook and a dream. Her father’s passion for history and her husband’s love of adventure and the Australian bush led to a desire to tell stories of Australia’s past.
She has travelled extensively and lived in Africa and Singapore. Before turning to writing full time, she enjoyed a long and varied career as a lawyer, both in private practice and in a range of different organisations, including the military and the emergency services.
Alison lives in a historic town in Victoria.