Title: The Women’s Circle
Author: Karyn Sepulveda
Published: July 7th 2021
Publisher: Ventura Press
Rating: 4 stars
Sydney, present day. Anna is released into the world after six years in prison. The entirety of her possessions stuffed into a single plastic bag. The trauma of her past, a much heavier burden to carry. Feeling hopeless, isolated and deeply lonely, Anna attends an alternative support group; The Women’s Circle. But when she touches an ancient crystal, Anna connects to a woman she has never met, in a past she doesn’t recognise.
In 1770, a brutal regime torments the English village of Quarrendon and is determined to keep its women apart. Young villager Aisleen desperately seeks a way to defy the rules, reunite with her sister, and live life on her own terms, without her husband’s permission. The stakes are high and terror of punishment inescapable, but doing nothing comes at an even steeper price…
While separated by generations, Anna finds herself drawn to the spine-chilling and courageous plight of Aisleen and Quarrendon’s women. Can their bond help her to face her past and embrace her second chance at life?
A heart-warming and inspirational portrayal of inner strength and vulnerability, The Women’s Circle shows us the true power of female friendship in all its forms.
‘Even being here, at the Women’s Circle, was some kind of help.’
A story of the healing power of female friendships and support networks, The Women’s Circle is the latest novel from Australian author Karyn Sepulveda. Crossing Sydney in the present day, with England in 1770, this past to current day narrative traverses unique territory. The Women’s Circle is a rare and unexampled novel, that I greatly appreciated.
The Women’s Circle by Karyn Sepulveda follows the shared lives of a woman in present day Sydney and a historical female figure in the 1700s. Both are powerful stories that will resonate with you long after the final page has been turned. We meet Anna, who has recently been released from prison, after serving time for drug related offences. With little by way of support or possessions, Anna must try and re-enter society. However, the pain of the past seems to serve as a huge roadblock for Anna. With overwhelming feelings of loneliness, disconnection, isolation and pessimism, the future looks bleak for Anna. But a support group named The Women’s Circle proves to be a blessing in disguise for Anna. Anna’s outlook is changed when she comes into contact with an old crystal. This out of body experience takes Anna to a different time, allowing her to connect with the experiences of an unknown woman in the past. The Women’s Circle then travels to a harsh time in our history books, England in the 1700s. This narrative line exposes the injustices against women and their freedom. Highlighting the direct experiences of one particular female figure of this time, the reader learns of the tight rules imposed on women during this period. To break free is a high risk to take, as we learn through Aisleen’s incredible journey. Despite the place and time divide, a link forms between Anna and Aisleen, helping Anna to re-engage with society. The Women’s Circle is powerful testament to life, second chances and connections.
The first thing I noticed about The Women’s Circle was the glorious cover, I was immediately taken in by the aesthetic beauty of Karyn Sepulveda’s book. Once I delved beyond the exquisite front cover, I encountered a wonderful dual narrative title that offers a profound look at a range of important issues at the heart of life.
What I immediately found really interesting about The Women’s Circle were the two vastly different narratives that underscore Karyn Sepulveda’s new release. I was very curious about how it would be possible to link the experiences of a modern-day woman in Sydney to a woman living in a village in England in the 1700s. It turns out a connection can be made and a good one at that. I found this whole story to be very original. It is great to see books like The Women’s Circle released into the literary world, Sepulveda’s book is like a breath of fresh air. I admired the risks Sepulveda was able to take in layering two diverse experiences together in a conjoined effort. The result is a work of fiction that is remarkable, unique and considered.
The present-day figure of Anna living in modern day Australian society is captured very well by Sepulveda. I soon became aware of Anna’s issues, hang-ups, obstacles, vulnerabilities and regrets. I’m glad Sepulveda cast a flawed lead. I valued the chance to follow Anna’s hard quest to re-enter society, it was a tough one. I think Sepulveda does an excellent job in highlighting some important issues in this area in regards to drug use, unhealthy relationships, the law, the prison system, rehabilitation and support networks. The Women’s Circle also offers a great commentary on our current times and societal impressions, especially in regards to drug use and incarceration. The whole women’s circle initiative was fabulous to learn about and I enjoyed opening myself up to this network.
The Women’s Circle is also concerned about the historical experiences of women who have been silenced and oppressed in times past. The 1770 based storyline opens up an enlightening conversation about entitlements, freedom, choice, risk and connections for females living in this era. I can’t recall having read many books set in England during the 1700s time period, so The Women’s Circle offered a great opportunity for me to connect with this era. I actually would have loved some more air time in this narrative, it just gave me a taster of sorts. However, I will praise Sepulveda for her efforts in immersing the reader in this powerful time.
With a small nod towards the mystical, The Women’s Circle is a meditative read that I provided me with a newfound sense of understanding for women’s support network. High credit to Karyn Sepulveda for a thoughtful read.
The Women’s Circle by Karyn Sepulveda was published on 7th July 2021 by Ventura Press. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Women’s Circle, Karyn Sepulveda, visit here
*I wish to thank Ventura Press for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Women’s Circle, is book #71 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge