From the bestselling author of The Land Girls comes a beautifully realised novel that speaks to the true history and real experiences of post-war Australian women.
Sydney 1945 The war is over, the fight begins.
The war is over and so are the jobs (and freedoms) of tens of thousands of Australian women. The armaments factories are making washing machines instead of bullets and war correspondent Tilly Galloway has hung up her uniform and been forced to work on the women’s pages of her newspaper – the only job available to her – where she struggles to write advice on fashion and make-up.
As Sydney swells with returning servicemen and the city bustles back to post-war life, Tilly finds her world is anything but normal. As she desperately waits for word of her prisoner-of-war husband, she begins to research stories about the lives of the underpaid and overworked women who live in her own city. Those whose war service has been overlooked; the freedom and independence of their war lives lost to them.
Meanwhile Tilly’s waterside worker father is on strike, and her best friend Mary is struggling to cope with the stranger her own husband has become since being liberated from Changi a broken man. As strikes rip the country apart and the news from abroad causes despair, matters build to a heart-rending crescendo. Tilly realises that for her the war may have ended, but the fight is just beginning…
Read some 5 star reviews from our Preview readers here:
This book was such a special read, I felt like some of the things that happened in the past with my family’s experiences happened the exact way in this book. The author had an uncanny way of bringing things to life, it felt like I knew of someone who experienced the same things, it really was such a pleasure to immerse myself into a book such as this one. This is well worth the time to absorb yourself into another era where love and war meet with sadness and with some joy. – Suzie, WA, 5 Stars
The Women’s Pages by Victoria Purman is a light book to read with a standard WWII story of love, loss and friendship. The historic research by Victoria Purman is interesting giving it a clever twist to the story. – Rhonda, QLD, 5 Stars
Thank you for my free copy. It took a little bit to get into The Women’s Pages but once I did I really enjoyed reading the book the storyline really picked up the pace by the middle. The writing style and narrative were really good and flowed nicely. I really enjoyed getting to know Tilly and Mary plus their family and friends. You really had to feel for Tilly in her struggled to fit into a post ww2 world and the uncertainty that comes with not knowing what happened to her husband watching how Mary struggled with accepting her husband had changed. Recommend The Women’s Pages for a great read, it’s made me laugh and cry plus many emotions in between. It’s a great insight into the times our grandparents went through. – Simone, WA, 5 Stars
Another engaging read by Victoria Purman. You will be filled with love, horror, grief and hope at some of the consequences of the ending of WW2 for the women in The Women’s Pages, keeping you turning the pages for more until the end. – Emma, VIC, 5 Stars
Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read The Women’s Pages by Victoria Purman. What a beautiful written heartbreaking story. Set during the war this is a story of courage, grief and the terrible things that happen to people who went through the war. Main character Tilly works in a men’s world, where she struggles to have woman’s views heard. Tilly’s husband has gone off to war and she waits many years for news of him. Will he return to heal her heart or will she get devastating news like so many other wives waiting for their husband’s return? Such an interesting read! Highly recommend!! – Judy, NSW, 5 Stars
The Women’s Pages is a heartfelt, emotional and inspiring look at women during and after WWII. Set in Sydney in 1946 immediately post WWII with events during the war told in backstory The Women’s Pages is narrated via Tilly Galloway, working at the Daily Herald whilst her husband is away fighting. Through Tilly and her family and close friends, Purman has shown the different impact the war had on women, with some husbands returning but forever damaged, whilst others for a variety of reasons not returning at all. Women who had been earning a wage and for the first time having money of their own were suddenly unemployed whilst older men were also losing their jobs to young, returning soldiers. It was a time of adjustment for all and for some it wasn’t the dream they had envisioned. The scenes around Sydney city and The Rocks were brought to life by Purman’s wonderful descriptions. With many mentions of the political climate and newsworthy events of the time, the story is solidly set in its time frame. Purman has delivered a heartfelt story. The characters are likeable, their emotions and dreams are genuine and relatable. The Women’s Pages is a thoroughly researched novel that had me spellbound from cover to cover. – Veronica, NSW, 5 Stars
Thank you for the opportunity to read The Women’s Pages by Victoria Purman. This is a book about life in Sydney during and mainly after World War 2. I found this take on the war to be very interesting. We always hear a lot about what happened during the war, but not about the effects of the war on so many in the community. It is the story of Tilly who has been working as a newspaper reporter during the war and wants to be taken seriously. This is usually dictated by the men, but she does get some opportunities. The writing was done really well, I could picture how it would have been during and after the war, with rationing, no new housing, and many other hardships. Tilly’s family and friends came to life, from her father who worked on the wharf, to her mother holding it all together, her sister and many friends. Many situations were brought into focus and really made me think about different possibilities that could have happened. I am not always a fan of historical fiction, but this book brought an awful part of history alive in a compassionate way that made me wonder how I would have coped. I would definitely recommend it. – Tara, SA, 5 Stars
Through the eyes of Tilly Galloway, Purman’s seventeenth novel richly illustrates how radically the war changed life for the women of Australia. Proving their capability in occupations formerly the exclusive domain of men, women would eventually earn recognition and a measure of independence, permitting them a career beyond housewife and mother. It sowed the seeds of feminism and the fight for equal pay. Captivating Australian historical fiction. – Marianne, NSW, 5 Stars
Australia had been a complacent island until war again arrived. Life in 1940’s Sydney changed drastically for many, from silk blouses and stockings to cheap cotton and cardboard insoles to patch holes in shoes. Housewives hung up their aprons and joined the workforce, taking on positions to help the war effort. Tilly Galloway becomes a reporter for the Daily Herald whilst worrying about the fate of her husband Archie held as a Japanese POW. After the hard times of shortages and anxiety, the end of the war is a jubilant moment, but it brings about further societal change. Equality no more: the freedom of paid labour is taken from women, relegated to home duties so returning soldiers can be the breadwinners. Feisty Tilly is downgraded to the drudgery of the newspaper’s women’s pages – fashion, makeup and recipes. Tilly’s father is a dockworker, striking for better working conditions despite the battle to put food on the family table. Post-war life is about to become a battle for the workplace and social transformation. Victoria Purman has delivered a factually laden, well-researched depiction of how WWII changed the lives of Australian women in The Women’s Pages. As an ‘older’ reader it evoked strong memories of place and mood. Thanks to Better Reading for an advanced reading copy. – Thelma, QLD, 5 Stars
A truly exceptional read. I love historical fiction and especially well researched Australian fiction. Victoria Purman has created a fascinating story about women in a time of Australia’s history when men were the decision-makers and women were fighting for their independence. It is the end of World War II and men are returning from fighting, from being POWs and from being away from their loved ones for years. The women of Australia were fighting their own war on the home front in carrying the burden of everyday life, working jobs that previously men undertook and waiting for loved ones to return home. It is a different world to what life was before the war. The men that have come home are shadows of their former selves and the women want more than to be domestic wives. The Women’s Pages is a must-read for those interested in Australian history especially women’s issues. My mother was a war veteran’s wife so this story resonated with the stories she told me growing up. The long wait between receiving letters, friends who lost their husbands and friends whose husbands returned ‘damaged’ either physically and/or emotionally. Another Victorian Purman gem. – Karyn, ACT, 5 Stars
From the very first moment, this book had me hooked. Presented in three acts, Purman’s magical penmanship immediately draws you in, transporting you to the jubilant celebrations on the streets of Sydney on that auspicious day in history – Victory in the Pacific, 15th August 1945. However, the stark reality soon hits. The war may be over, but it lives on in so many. As the first female war correspondent for the “Daily Herald”, Tilly Galloway awaits news of her prisoner-of-war husband Archie, a number of servicemen are beginning to return, shellshocked and shadows of their former selves. While the city struggles with post-war life, Tilly is relegated to the women’s pages to allow the men to resume their previous positions at the newspaper. Like so many others who remained on the home-front, the war brought Tilly so much and yet, took so much away. Based on the real experiences of Australian women, this book’s timely release marks the 75th Anniversary Year of Victory in the Pacific. Throughout, Purman expertly explores the incredible contrasts the war has on society whilst covering the themes of World War II, post-traumatic stress, communism versus capitalism, gender inequality and industrialism. Prior to reading this book, I was not particularly conversant in the history and politics of waterside workers in Sydney, nor what happened in Rabaul and the surrounding areas during the war. The authors thorough research is woven into her story in such a digestible way, I was completely engrossed and eager to do my own research to delve further into these events. Featuring strong, trailblazing female characters who fight for and stand up for what they believe in, this empowering tale remains relevant today and reminds us to live for those who are no longer alive. I would highly recommend The Women’s Pages to fans of historical fiction, romance and feminism. Thank you to Better Reading and Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to preview this spellbinding and poignant book. I cannot wait to read more from Victoria Purman’s library. – Fleur, NSW, 5 Stars
Victoria Purman has written a captivating novel portraying the harsh and realistic struggles of the Second World War through the eyes of families, husbands, wives and friends. Her main character Tilly shows such strength and emotion as she comes to terms with how her life has changed, and for those women around her as they try to adjust to post-war life again. She wants to be heard through her newspaper stories and pursues options so that she can regain independence and love again the life that they had before the war, and for the lives that were lost. – Karen, NSW, 5 Stars
This was a beautiful story about an aspect of war we don’t often hear about… the amazing women. The story is about Tilly and her friends and family as they all battle their own struggles, both through the end of war and after the war. Tilly is one of the many women filling the roles usually held by men, while they are off fighting in ww2. As she waits for news of her missing husband, she works in the newspaper office as a reporter. She faces many challenges both in the workforce, and personally, as she deals with her own problems and trying to support her family and friends. It was a beautifully written, sensitive story about the challenges of the time. I liked the way the author was able to blend the current and past quite easily throughout the story. The main characters were so authentic and felt like friends. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. It was my first book by Victoria Purman and I will be reading more of her books. Thanks to Better Reading and Harper Collins for my preview copy. – Kim, NSW, 5 Stars
Lovers of historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy this book. It is inspiring and heartwarming and gives an insight into women in journalism and the struggles of women in times of war in general. – Rachel, QLD, 5 Stars
Thank you for the opportunity to read The Women’s Pages by Victoria Purman. I have to say that this has to be her best book yet. From start to finish it had me wanting to keep turning the pages. The way life was for people back in the days of war make you realize how lucky we are today. How strong women are and the things they have overcome to be the amazing people they are. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a must-read for all. You won’t be disappointed. – Jodie, NSW, 5 Stars