Review: The Women and the Girls by Laura Bloom

Title: The Women and the Girls

Author: Laura Bloom

Published: 19th January 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read January 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin


My Thoughts:

Set in Australia in the late 1970’s, The Women and the Girls is a thoughtful and engaging novel about self discovery and friendship from Laura Bloom.

No longer able to withstand her domineering husband, recent British immigrant Carol finds an unexpected ally in Anna when she makes the decision to leave him. Anna, who has just made the decision to leave her own husband, offers Carol refuge with her at an investment property she owns and then Libby, desperate for a change in the status quo of her marriage, impulsively decides to join them.

Told with heart and humour, Bloom shares the journey of these three women as they attempt to forge a new life for themselves, and their children. I thought the characterisation of each woman was well-rounded, exploring their strengths and flaws in a nuanced manner. While they each have different reasons for leaving their husbands, Carol, Anna and Libby are all essentially on a similar quest of self discovery, and are fortunate to have found an ally in each other.

Bloom’s portrayal of female friendships in this novel is quite wonderful, the women are really little more than acquaintances when they first begin living together but they are effortlessly supportive of one another. Even if they don’t always agree, the consideration and respect of their relationships contrasts sharply with Carol and Libby’s experience in their respective marriages in a time when women were just beginning to realise that being a wife and mother didn’t negate their autonomy.

Though I was only a young child in the 1970’s (I was born in 1973) I feel like Bloom captured the era well with her descriptions of hair and fashion, the affection for ABBA, the velvet couches, and fondue. Bloom also explores the dichotomy that characterised the period, for though the decade saw rapid social progress for womens’ rights in Australia, casual, and pointed, misogyny remained rife. The introduction of ‘no fault’ laws in 1976 saw the divorce rate triple (reaching a record high that still stands), yet in 1977 married women could not open a bank account without their husband’s permission.

The Women and the Girls is a well-written, entertaining and thought-provoking read, that should have cross generational appeal.


Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mystica
    Jan 26, 2021 @ 18:37:49

    Putting this on my wishlist. Though born in 1955 this does appeal to me as well.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies
    Jan 27, 2021 @ 03:47:10

    This sounds amazing! I really want to read it now — terrific review!

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings
    Jan 27, 2021 @ 07:47:42

    This sounds really good!

    Liked by 1 person


  4. Helen Murdoch
    Jan 27, 2021 @ 08:10:25

    I was born in 1965 so would probably really enjoy the ’70s references. And I like a good book about female friendships. On to the TBR list it goes.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Amanda Barrett
    Jan 27, 2021 @ 09:01:15

    Well reviewed Shelleyrae! Keen to read this one and I’m glad I have it on the review pile! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Davida Chazan
    Jan 31, 2021 @ 18:49:01

    Great review but… calling a book historical that’s set in the 1970s seems, well… just… not right, to be honest. No matter – that’s probably just me.



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