#aww2021 · 2021 Reviews · cover reveal · dual time frame · historical fiction · new release · romance

New Release Book Review: The Buchanan Girls by Emily Madden

Title: The Buchanan Girls

Author: Emily Madden

Published: September 1st 2021

Publisher: Mira – AU

Pages: 448

Genres:  Fiction, Historical, Romance

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 5 stars

A sweeping family saga about betrayal, forgiveness and the cost of love.

Sydney, 1941: Olive and Ivy may be identical twins, but they couldn’t be more different. While Olive is focused on marrying a man appropriate to her station, Ivy wants to do more, to be more. Joining the Australian Women’s Army Service is the perfect chance for her to escape her family obligations and make a real difference in the world. She doesn’t expect serving her country to lead to romance … or devastating betrayal and unthinkable grief.

As the war progresses, both Olive and Ivy find themselves wanting the same thing: for their loves to return safely. But neither of the Buchanan girls is ready for what the future has in store for them.

Sydney, 2008: Escaping her husband’s betrayal and an impossible personal loss, Madeline returns home to Sydney to nurse her broken heart. As she settles into her new routine, it’s too easy to consider never returning to New York and her old life. But her husband won’t give up on what they have so easily, and Madeline can’t ignore his messages reminding her of why they fell in love in the first place. With her grandmother’s support, Madeline has to decide if forgiveness means reconciliation. But is the biggest betrayal yet to come?

Review:

‘There was a story here, but he very much doubted Ivy would be sharing it with him.’

With a passion for writing stories that uplift the soul and touch the heart, Emily Madden’s The Buchanan Girls is the perfect example of a novel that effortlessly combines these two qualities. A story of sisterhood, sibling rivalry, love, duty, responsibility, self-sacrifice, loyalty, betrayal and aspiration, The Buchanan Girls is a book that completely bowled me over and it deserves no less than a full five-star rating.

Crossing Sydney in 1941 and 2008, The Buchanan Girls follows the lives of two twin girls on the cusp on adulthood when we are first acquainted with them in 1941. Although the girls look alike, that is where the similarity stops. Olive is a passionate romantic, who is determined to marry as soon as possible. Olive’s twin sister Ivy has bigger dreams. Ivy longs to sign up for the Australian Women’s Army Service and she is dedicated to helping her country during the war. It is a pathway that brings Ivy unexpected friendship, opportunity, romance and eventually a great deal of turmoil. The war impacts Ivy and Olive in different ways, but they soon realise they are fighting for the same thing – love. Olive and Ivy will find their lives irrevocably changed by the time the war is over. Moving forward in time to the year 2008, we meet Madeline, a woman struggling to cope with a recent bout of loss and betrayal. Devastated and upset, Madeline decides to come home to Sydney in an effort to help her overcome her heartbreak. With the support and valued advice of her grandmother, Madeline begins to see her heartbreak in a different light. Will Madeline be able to forgive her husband and move on from the betrayal that haunts her? What family secrets threaten to engulf both Madeline and her grandmother?

From the initial idea to publication, The Buchanan Girls is a powerful story that has been three years in the making. Author Emily Madden admits that her latest release has been the hardest to write of all her novels. I’m grateful to author Emily Madden for her persistence and hard work in getting this sensational novel out to her readers. The Buchanan Girls is one of my favourite reads of 2021. I absolutely adored it!

The relationship between twins always fascinates me and I often find I am drawn to tales that feature twins. I don’t have a twin or a sister, so the opportunity to delve into this special relationships via an engaging fictional narrative was very enticing. Emily Madden does a fine job of illuminating the undeniable bond, rivalry, sense of loyalty, implicit understanding, but also the unique relationship that exists between twins. The personality traits, mindset, flaws and hopes of each twin is clearly outlined by Madden. I definitely sympathised with Ivy from the very beginning. As the book progressed my opinion of Olive went downhill very quick and certain plot eventualities made me very angry with Olive. The Buchanan family fold, which consists of the father and grandmother to the twins also increased my ire due to their unfair treatment of Ivy. I couldn’t believe they could blame a child for such an unreasonable form of wrongdoing! I won’t delve into this area of the novel any further in order to avoid plot spoilers, but this sure was an unjust set of circumstances for poor Ivy! Ivy is a tolerable and admirable young lady in my eyes.

Emily Madden successfully pulls off the dual timeline, past to present style narrative, that can be a tricky one to navigate. However, The Buchanan Girls features smooth and connective timeline transitions, that never left me stranded or confused. I was completely entranced by the historical period narrative, but I also very much warmed to Madeline’s 2008 journey. As the two storylines eventually coverage, I was overawed by this magical story. Madden’s special ability to combine family secrets, mystery, intrigue, duplicity, drama and heartbreak was magnificent. I was also amazed by the historical elements to this tale. Madden’s focus on historical buildings of interest, medical institutions, mental treatment facilities, convalescence homes, the work of the Australian Women’s Army Service, the role of the American Army in Australia during the Second World War, the devastating loss of soldiers to prisoner of war camps and the higher education of women during the war all have a part to play in this tale. Issues of class and standing also emerge as key themes of this absorbing tale. I fear I could go on for hours talking about The Buchanan Girls and all this wonderful book has to offer. What I loved and valued the most about this tale was the mystery thread. I came up with a number of possible outcomes and theories about how this enthralling story would conclude. I was somewhat close to these predictions, but Emily Madden completely blew me away with the final turn of events!

What a truly fabulous read The Buchanan Girls turned out to be! This is my favourite novel of Emily Madden’s to date and I will be championing The Buchanan Girls to all readers!

The Buchanan Girls by Emily Madden was published on 1st September 2021 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Buchanan Girls, Emily Madden, visit here.

*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

The Buchanan Girls is book #92 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge

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