Title: To Love, Honour and Betray
Author: J Mary Masters
Published: July 7th 2017
Publisher: PMA Books
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4 stars
It’s 10 years since the end of book 1, Julia’s Story and the stresses are beginning to show in two marriages.
Julia Belleville, now Fitzroy, continues to mourn the daughter she was forced to give up, while her husband James begins to look elsewhere.
And Catherine, Richard Belleville’s wife, restless and unimpressed by her life in Australia, embraces the unexpected events in her family that draw her back to her English life.
Hundreds of miles from the Belleville family’s grand home Prior Park, a terrible accident robs a young girl of her parents. It is only later that the consequences of this tragedy become known.
And what of Alistair McGovern, the late Francis Belleville’s bastard son? Now a young adult, he demands his share of the Belleville fortune but is spurned by the two brothers, Richard and William, who will do anything to ensure this terrible secret never reaches their mother Elizabeth Belleville. When he is finally rejected, his anger and disappointment can only lead him in one direction.
And what of Dr Philippe Duval, the man Julia loved and lost. What news from the past brings him back to Australia, a country he thought he would never visit again?
In this sequel to Julia’s Story the Belleville family’s secrets and betrayals are ruthlessly exposed.
It was a warm welcome and an embracing homecoming as I returned to the fascinating lives of the Belleville family in J Mary Master’s second chapter of this Australian historical fiction series, To Love Honour and Betray. With the emphasis on family, secrets, the past, legacy and entitlement, the sequel to Julia’s Story entertains the reader from the breathtaking first page, through to the final parting word of this compelling Australian novel.
In this absorbing second issue in the series, there are plenty of shocking secrets, tragic events, unexpected twists of fate and a bevy of agonising decisions to be made as the Belleville family fold negotiate life in the late 1950s. Following my experience of reading book one in this series, Julia’s Story, I was reminded of just how engaging this series has proved to be. J Mary Masters is a skilled storyteller, drawing her reader in at all times, with a well written and carefully plotted narrative. I enjoyed being carried away from the pressures of real life as I surrendered myself to the trials and tribulations of the colourful Belleville family clan.
What I appreciated about To Love Honour and Betray was the way in which J Mary Masters is able to so easily transport the reader to yesteryear, Australia in the 1950s, with a sense of ease. The period detail is to be applauded. Masters captures the very essence of the 1950s, with a particular emphasis on the strict moral codes and expectations of Australian society at this point in time. There is a strong ring of truth that follows the characters and their actions in this novel, which I feel is down to the commitment the author has gone to in order to maintain the authenticity of this time piece.
The narrative itself is polished off nicely. Masters strives to achieve a good balance between tying up the loose ends left hanging from her previous issue of this series, and introducing new areas of concern for the characters to work through. I enjoyed marking out my favourite, as well as the unlikeable players in this novel. I also continued to refer to the cast of characters list for this book, included at the beginning on the story. It ensured that my understanding of this protagonist set remained on point.
The more and more I read and committed myself to the Belleville family, the more I feel this book is closely aligned to one of my favourite television drama series, A Place to Call Home. There are some great parallels between this book series and television adaptation. It really does warm my heart to see such quality Australian historical sagas, such as To Love Honour and Betray, beamed into our book world. This stunning book is a wonderful reminder of the stories that come from our passionate Australian writers.
To Love, Honour and Betray by J Mary Masters was published on 7th July 2017. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of To Love, Honour and Betray, 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.
To Love, Honour and Betray is book #92 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge