books

"The Land Girls made me appreciate the women who came before us. It's a Mother's Day must."

HQ Fiction
Thanks to our brand partner, HQ Fiction

My mother and I have not called the same city home for close to 10 years and yet we have found a cross-country tether to always hold us together.

That tether is books or more specifically the sharing, recommending and sometimes even disagreeing on the words and stories found between the pages of various novels we discover each year.

My earliest childhood memories are of lying on a small mattress on the floor next to my mother’s chair, in a tangled web made up of blankets and the limbs of my sisters and brothers, and listening to my mother’s voice read aloud to us for hours. It’s where my love of words and stories was first forged, a love affair that has continued on to this day.

So now, whenever I jump on a plane to visit my mother I am always laden down with copies of brilliant books I have already devoured and now am eager to pass onto her. Or, in the case of a special occasion like Mother’s Day, I will tuck the books into a large brown box along with some other goodies and send it off to her as a little care package.

In the case of this year’s Mother’s Day, the book I will be sending her way is a page-turning, female-driven tale set in 1940s Australia – a brilliant new novel called The Land Girls by bestselling Australian author Victoria Purman.

What I love about The Land Girls is that it is both a welcoming comfort read, as Purman’s almost lyrical description of this particular point in Australia’s history is a richly crafted treat veering cleverly through the brutal hardships faced at the time while also filtering in little moments of beautiful, historical nostalgia. It’s a well-told story filled with multi-dimensional female characters.

The early pages of The Land Girls introduce us to Flora, who is a “spinster” (as she is described in the novel, in accordance with the era in which the world is set which is 1942) toiling away at her dull office job in Melbourne. World War II is looming in the background of the novel and even though Flora is doing her part to help the war effort by knitting socks for the troops, it takes just one moment in time for anger to overtake her and change the course of her life forever.

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"The Land Girls is definitely the book I'll be sending to my mum to enjoy this Mother's Day."
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A woman hands her brother Jack a white feather, which at that time women were encouraged to give out to young men who had not joined the army, as a marker of cowardice and shame.

So Flora joins The Australian Women's Land Army, an organisation which was created in World War II in Australia to aide the rising labour shortages in the farming sector by allowing female workers to be employed by farmers in order to replace male workers who had joined the armed forces.

Not only does the backdrop of The Australian Women's Land Army provide a rich world in which the story can unfold, but it also brings Flora's story together with our other main characters.

There is Lillian, a slightly upper-crust Adelaide girl who flees to the Mildura countryside in order to break free from the suffocating expectations her family has placed upon her. There is also Betty, who at 17 years old has joined the land army as a way of supporting the man she loves, but very much regrets it at first and cries herself to sleep every night.

The story arcs that unfold between the characters in the novel is an utter delight to read, as it's both a universal story of the bond that grows between women and a unique look at the challenges women in the real Australian Women's Land Army would have faced at the time. There is something wonderful about reading a work of great fiction and knowing that it is giving you a real insight into the lives of these Australian women from years gone by.

Before picking up this book, I had never heard of The Australian Women's Land Army before, but since I finished it I have spent hours online reading up about the real women who inspired this story - it's a piece of Australian history we don't talk about enough.

Without giving away too much of the storyline or the characters' plot-points, I can best describe The Land Girls as something that will appeal to lovers of the classic Australian TV show A Place to Call Home or any avid readers who love the likes of writers such as Joy Rhoades who wrote Woolgrower’s Companion.

The Land Girls is broken down into separate chapters so we are treated to the unique voices of Flora, Betty and Lillian telling their own sides of the story throughout the book. The other story-telling device the novel utilises well is to tell part of the story through handwritten letters, which really makes you feel as though you have gone back in time to the days of the 1940s.

This is a book that deals in great sadness but also moments of pure joy. It's a look at how death and finding true love can exist side-by-side in life.

The Land Girls is definitely the book I'll be sending to my mum to enjoy this Mother's Day.

The Land Girls will be released in Australia and is out now . Head to Booktopia or Apple Books to order your copy.

HQ Fiction

HQ Fiction are giving you a chance to WIN 1 of 5 COPIES OF THE LAND GIRLS for you and your mum for Mother’s Day!

Enter Now – link is https://woobox.com/87xur7

Tags: books , mamamia-book-club , pop-culture , review
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