#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · historical fiction · new release

New Release Book Review: Those Hamilton Sisters by Averil Kenny

Title: Those Hamilton Sisters

Author: Averil Kenny

Published: March 30th 2021

Publisher: Echo Publishing

Pages: 464

Genres: Fiction, Historical

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 4 stars

An irresistible tale of secrets, love and redemption, for fans of Fiona McIntosh and Di Morrissey

Will their mother’s scandalous past decide their future?

The train which snaked into Noah Vale that verdant, midwinter afternoon brought with it fire, sending an inferno of small-town gossip roaring up the valley …

Beautiful Esther Hamilton had a reputation in the town of Noah Vale. That was, until she ran away, twenty years ago, under a cloud of shame.

It’s now 1955 and following their mother’s death, the Hamilton sisters have returned to Noah Vale to live near their aunt and uncle.

The eldest, Sonnet, has inherited both her mother’s fiery hair and her independent streak. The middle child, Fable, is a gifted artist and a dreamer. And the youngest, Plum, is anxious to please and notices everything.

As the years pass, the sisters settle into small-town life, but suspicion and judgement seem to follow them wherever they go. And when Fable dares to fall in love with Noah Vale’s golden boy, is history destined to repeat itself?

Review:

‘Whatever happened next, they’d face it together. It was what Hamilton sisters did.’

Averil Kenny is a new talent in the Australian historical fiction field and her debut novel, Those Hamilton Sisters was published by Echo Publishing in March. A chronicle of the lives, love, joys and heartbreak of three sisters, Those Hamilton Sisters envelopes the reader in a nostalgic family drama.

Situated in the sultry far north Queensland township of Noah Vale, Those Hamilton Sisters examines the weight of small-town gossip and public shame. Over twenty years ago, a stunning young woman named Esther Hamilton had to leave her home town due to public scorn. Over two decades later, Esther’s three daughters return to Noah Vale, following the loss of their mother. Under the close care of their aunt and uncle, the sisters set up a cottage in this judgmental community. However, it soon becomes clear that the town hasn’t forgotten mistakes of the past and the Hamilton girls face further judgment from the residents of Noah Vale. As each sister embraces their new life in Noah Vale, the legacy of their mother’s past mistakes continues to haunt each of them. Can the Hamilton sisters create a promising new future for themselves?

I was immediately attracted to this title, I love a good Aussie historical family saga, so Averil Kenny’s debut caught my eye. I really enjoyed all Those Hamilton Sisters had to offer, it is an accomplished story for a first-time novelist.

The setting is excellent feature of Those Hamilton Sisters. Grounded in the fictional far north Queensland area of Noah Vale, the atmosphere is thick with tension, speculation and conjecture. There were a number of instances while I was reading this book that I felt heavy headed, tense and on edge. Those Hamilton Sisters is an emotional and intense novel, showcasing just how significant past mistakes can impact future generations. My heart went out to the Hamilton girls, the shame, prejudice and judgment they faced was devastating at times. However, Kenny does a great job of depicting the typical morals and societal attitudes of this era. These were hard times indeed.

During the course of Those Hamilton Sisters we spend time with each sister, though I did feel that I knew less about the youngest Hamilton sister, Plum. Fable and Sonnet are the two older sisters and I felt they were both very well rendered. I enjoyed following their individual pathways. I also found my interest was directed towards finding out more about Esther, the mother of the sisters. Esther’s story was intriguing, but also upsetting. Kenny attacks the dynamics of a sisterly relationship very well and I loved seeing how the sisters provided an unconditional form of support for each other. Kenny works hard to present a good combination of positive and negative characters. The contributions of all the characters both main and periphery add plenty of activity to this unfolding tale.

I really liked the structure of Those Hamilton Sisters. We follow the Hamilton family for around a ten-year duration, with some memory inserts back to Esther Hamilton’s past twenty years earlier. Each new chapter is headed by a year and location, which aided my reading experience. Kenny’s book is divided into four clear parts and the book moves at an even pace. Flow wise, I found no dips in my attention at all and I was immersed from the open to the close of Averil Kenny’s debut composition. The characters were memorable, but I found the quaint and fanciful atmosphere of this novel to be its starring feature.

Those Hamilton Sisters held me transfixed for an afternoon and evening, while enjoyed the gentle company of Esther, Sonnet, Fable and Plum. Those Hamilton Sisters heralds the beginning of a promising new career for author Averil Kenny.

Those Hamilton Sisters by Averil Kenny was published on 30th March 2021 by Echo Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Those Hamilton Sisters, Averil Kenny, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Echo Publishing for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Those Hamilton Sisters is book #37 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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