#aww2019 · 2019 Reviews · Australian · historical fiction · saga

Book Review: Return to Prior Park by J Mary Masters

Title: Return to Prior Parkreturn to prior park small

Author: J Mary Masters

Published: February 28th 2019

Publisher: PMA Books

Pages: 400

Genres: Fiction, Historical

Rating: 4 stars

A final act of vengeance. An illicit liaison. A passionate affair. In this third instalment of the Belleville family story, loyalties will be tested and new secrets concealed as the family begin to rebuild their shattered lives. But in the end, it is Prior Park that draws them back as the next generation of the family begins to emerge.

In this third book in the series, the Belleville family begin to rebuild their shattered lives. Wrongly believing they are safe from the madman Alistair McGovern, he escapes from custody to attempt one final act of vengeance. In the aftermath of this final desperate act, each of them must come to terms with the events of the past.

Her marriage in tatters, Julia Belleville begins to question whether she can rebuild her relationship with her first love American surgeon Dr Philippe Duval, even as they both immerse themselves in the life of their daughter Pippa, who expects they will marry. Julia’s elder brother Richard, determined to gain custody of his two sons, laments the failure of his marriage to Catherine, who has returned to England and is already looking elsewhere. Yet Richard too finds himself unexpectedly falling in love against his better judgement even as he confronts Philippe over his troubling behaviour.

Meanwhile, it is William and Alice who provide the stability of a settled family life. Yet they too are caught up in the unsettled lives of the people they love. 

In this dramatic third instalment of the Belleville story, there are many twists and turns as the family rebuild their lives. Set against the backdrop of the world of the 1950s, the story takes readers from the countryside to Australia’s great harbour city of Sydney, to London and to Derbyshire, and to New York. 

But in the end, it is the sprawling Australian cattle station Prior Park that draws the Belleville family members back to their country origins time and again. 

It is where their hearts belong. 


Return to Prior Park is the third and final book in the Belleville family series, a collection of books that I have personally enjoyed from start to finish. In this dramatic final chapter, the Belleville family must rise above the challenges they have faced in life, to take stock and triumph over adversity. With matters of the heart, dangerous affairs, acts of pure revenge and a focus on gaining the upper hand over their troubled lives running  through this tale, Return to Prior Park is an impressionable novel.

After plenty of requests from loyal followers of this series to pen a final chapter in the Belleville family series, J Mary Masters has answered the call and composed Return to Prior Park, the last issue in this series. It begins with quite a jolt, as the Belleville family simultaneously deal with rebuilding their fractured lives, along with a dangerous threat from the past. The drama and suspense runs deep as the whole family must contend with the fallout from a terrible act of revenge. It was interesting to view each character and their varied response to the issues as hand. Masters shows us that she really does know the intricacies of her characters inside and out, especially those returning players from previous issues of this series.

There is an undercurrent of romance that follows this historical novel and Masters turns up the heat just a notch in this particular installment of the series. Readers can expect to see caution thrown aside as the characters in Return to Prior Park indulge in some passionate, unexpected and risky dalliances. Masters fleshes this aspect of her story out well and the reader is left a little breathless by the turn of events!

Opening in early 1958, and closing in late 1960, Return to Prior Park chronicles the lives of Bellevilles and those who fall into step with this family unit through the swirling events of this novel. As always, the set locale base of this series and the Belleville family home, Prior Park, has a strong beating heart, shadowing the unfolding story. I really loved this aspect of the novel, along with the ever clear timeline direction of each novel. As with all three books in this series, Masters is careful and deliberate in ensuring her novel follows a clear direction. Each new chapter is headed by the respective month and year. The reader really knows where they stand while reading this series, thanks to these helpful directional signposts.

I know J Mary Masters has taken great strides to secure the authenticity of her novel so readers can best enjoy all this book has to offer. All details in this novel, especially the historical time place aspects have been meticulously researched and checked over to ensure they are as valid as possible. The figures in this novel and the events that spiral around them have been carefully verified, in order to achieve optimum reading pleasure.

There is plenty to enjoy in the closing chapter to this thoroughly entertaining series. I was pleased with the final results and the approach Masters was able to take in closing her novel, as well as the whole series off. Although I always feel a little sad when it comes to saying goodbye to a series, I am very keen to see where J Mary Masters travels next. I am sure we are in for a reading treat in the near future.

Return to Prior Park  by J Mary Masters was published on 28th February 2019. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Return to Prior Park, J Mary Masters, visit here.

*I wish to thank the author, J Mary Masters, for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Return to Prior Park is book #93 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge



4 thoughts on “Book Review: Return to Prior Park by J Mary Masters

  1. Thank you Mrs B for such a great review of my Belleville trilogy. It’s really rewarding to have a reviewer give such favourable comments on my books.

    Liked by 1 person

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