The Jade Widow by Deborah O'Brien

I was utterly charmed by this sweet romance set in country Australia.  Easy to read and relaxing, this is a well-written and interesting story by Deborah O'Brien.  I enjoyed every minute of it.

Set in the late nineteenth century, the plot concerns two sisters-in-law - the conservative widow Amy Chen and Eliza, an ambitious but self-sacrificing medical student who studied at the Sorbonne.  It follows the pattern of their lives as Amy struggles with the prejudice of the town towards her half-Chinese son and Eliza tries to fulfill her medical aspirations in the small country town.  Amy is also a business woman, and she is building a sumptuous hotel with its own ascending machine.

The inclusion of fascinating true characters such as suffragette Rose Scott and artist Charles Condor is one of the highlights of the book, I thought.  I didn't know much about Rose Scott, but I am going to find out more, and I hope to write about her on my Edwardian blog.

I also liked the descriptions of Australian wildlife, such as the platypus and the kookaburra.  The author's love of her Australian setting certainly showed.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical novels, and I am sorry that I didn't read the first book in the series.


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