Set in the New South Wales in 1899, a time when Federation was the most discussed and emotive Political issue throughout Australia, Alasdair Dunleavy, an aspiring politician and his young wife Eleanor lose their child at birth, leaving the young woman distraught and depressed.
Eleanor is wondering whether it was the right decision to have married Alasdair on such short acquaintance, but has reached the decision better a politician than an explorer, which he was when they first met. She is beginning to review her future options as a wife and has decide that it may be time to invite her husband back into her bedroom.
Meanwhile Alasdair, in rescuing a young woman sitting on the side of the road in despair, has set her up as his young mistress; she is half his age. He goes to call on her, but she does not answer the door, not realising that Eleanor has set out to follow him, having her suspicions as to where he goes so often when he is not in Parliament.
This decision by Eleanor sets off a chain of events that were all to common in the day, which draws in the rich, the poor, the entrepreneurs and the men who seek above all else, the fame and position of becoming members of the first government of Australia under Federation.
Alice, their maid is facing her own issues with her wayward sister, who has returned home, now the mother of several children and pregnant once again. What is to happen to the new babe once it arrives will see tragedy unfold, but will help begin to heal the deep chasms which have appeared in the small family.
In The unforgiving City, Maggie Joel has presented the harsh and hard reality that was a woman’s lot in Victorian times, where their lives where controlled by men, their bodies where not their own and the laws relating to abortion carried the death penalty.
Joel has captured beautifully the very essence of the a still very young and fledging Australia during the time leading up to Federation, in this well-crafted story of the two worlds that run side by side, while Society carefully looks in the other direction.
|Allen and Unwin
|Allen and Unwin