Book talk: 3 historical novels by Australian authors

Book reviews of historical novels
Spending more time at home offers an opportunity to spend more time reading.

With almost everything cancelled and most of us spending more time at home, hunkering down during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to catch up on our reading. But with so many books to choose from, where do you start? Week after week, Canberra Weekly’s exceptionally well-read bibliophiles Jeff Popple and his son, Michael, do the heavy lifting and provide their expert, well-considered reviews of the latest releases across a wide range of genres. In Book Talk this week, Michael Popple reviews three historical novels from some amazing Australian authors. You can find more of Michael’s book reviews on his blog:

You can catch up with reviews by Jeff Popple at

Book reviews of historical novels
A Testament of Character

A Testament of Character by Sulari Gentill

Pantera Press, $29.99

1935: An old friend of Australian artist Rowland Sinclair, Daniel Cartwright has been murdered, and he has named Rowland as the executor of his estate. Traveling to Boston with his bohemian friends, Rowland discovers that Cartwright has left his vast fortune to a mysterious, unknown person, an action that leaves Rowland in the crosshairs of gangsters and killers. This is the tenth book in the excellent Rowland Sinclair series. Gentill has crafted an outstanding historical murder mystery, which not only explores intriguing aspects of post-Depression America, but also contains a dark and captivating tale of love and revenge. Highly recommended.

Book reviews of historical novels

Riptides by Kirsten Alexander

Bantam, $32.99

On a stormy night, Abby Campbell and her brother Charlie accidently force a car off the road as they travel to their father’s house, killing the pregnant driver. Fleeing the scene, the siblings are unaware that the woman was their father’s new fiancée. Keeping their role in her death secret, Abby and Charlie must now live with all the terrible consequences of their actions. This is a fantastic second outing from Alexander following her 2019 debut, Half Moon Lake. Set in Queensland during the turbulent 1970s, this is a powerful and tragic Australian drama that is hard to put down.

Where Fortune Lies by Mary-Anne O’Connor

Book reviews of historical novels
Where Fortune Lies

HQ Fiction, $32.99

1879: A series of disastrous circumstances force four young people – Irish country girl Anne Brown, siblings Will and Mari Worthington and artist Charlie Turner – to leave their homes and seek their fortunes in Australia. What they discover is a beautiful land, full of opportunity and mystery. However, danger lies around every corner, and all four will face adversity as they search for their ultimate destinies. This is another captivating historical drama from O’Connor, who presents a wonderful tale of love, adventure and bushrangers in colonial Australia. Featuring a clever multi-character storyline, this is a gripping and compelling read.

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