Review: The Women’s Pages by Victoria Purman

Title: The Women’s Pages

Author: Victoria Purman

Published: 2nd September 2020, HQ Fiction

Status Read August 2020 courtesy Harlequin Australia


My Thoughts:

The Women’s Pages is another captivating novel of historical fiction from best-selling author, Victoria Purman.

Set in Sydney, Australia as World War II draws to a close, Tilly Galloway is an official Women’s War Correspondent for The Daily Herald, and though she has found it frustrating that as a woman she has been restricted to reporting from the home front, she loves her job. While the end of the war is cause for celebration, for Tilly the occasion is bittersweet when her boss insists she returns to writing for the women’s pages to make way for returning serviceman, and prepare for her own husband’s homecoming.

Seamlessly merging historical facts with fiction, Purman’s focus is on exploring the post war experiences of women in this enjoyable, moving, and interesting novel. Though the end of the war brings relief, it also creates new challenges for Australian women.

Many women suddenly find their working life abruptly altered or terminated to benefit returned serviceman, and struggle with the loss of their independence. Tilly acknowledges she is lucky to still be employed, but disappointed to be reassigned to cover gossip and social events, especially when she feels strongly that there are issues women are facing which are more urgent and meaningful to report on.

Other women expect to settle back into a life of domesticity with their demobbed husbands only to discover, as does Tilly’s best friend, Mary, that their men are virtual strangers, struggling with physical injuries or mental health issues from their wartime experiences. Few men returned unchanged from the war, and women bore the brunt of the aftermath with no, or little guidance, and Purman portrays these challenges with clear-eyed compassion.

Some women, like Tilly, and her sister, Martha, discover after years of waiting, that that their husbands may not be returning at all. Tilly is increasingly anxious as there is no word of her husband, who is a Japanese prisoner of war. Martha’s husband survived the war, but has deserted her, leaving her to raise their three sons on her own without any financial support.

These are just a few of the issues for women Purman explores in The Women’s Pages, she also touches on the government’s failure to adequately provide for war widows and their now fatherless children, the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace, and the divide between the experiences of working class and upper class women. Through the members of Tilly’s family, Purman also highlights the postwar Union struggle for fair wages and working conditions, particularly on the waterfront, and its effect on women, like Tilly’s mum.

Heartfelt and poignant, with appealing characters, The Women’s Pages is an excellent read which presents an engaging story that also illuminates the real history of post-war Australian women.


Available from Harlequin/HarperCollins

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Also by Victoria Purman reviewed at Book’d Out



9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marg
    Sep 02, 2020 @ 21:23:13

    I am reading this at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Linda Moore
    Sep 02, 2020 @ 22:02:37

    Sounds very good.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Would you please give me a follow at: I don’t really have a working WordPress page. I never did anything with it. It was to complicated for me. lol I do enjoy working on my Blogspot blog though and would greatly appreciate a follow.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Mystica
    Sep 03, 2020 @ 15:48:13

    I’m reading The London Restoration and the return to civilian life of one particular couple. Very tough the challenges facing both men and women to return to civilian life.

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Amanda Barrett
    Sep 03, 2020 @ 20:14:34

    A lovely review Shelleyrae. I too enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Helen Murdoch
    Sep 04, 2020 @ 13:15:04

    This is a side of WWII that we don’t see much: what it’s like when it all ends and women “go back to the home” and lose some of their hard-won independence.

    Liked by 1 person


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  7. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Sep 07, 2020 @ 22:06:16

    I have been eyeing this one, and now it goes on my list! I feel for the women losing the independence of their jobs and facing the difficulties of the men after the war, too. It has been a while since I read a WWII book, so I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person


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