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Tuesday 23 August 2011

A Woman's Place by Susanne O'Leary

This is a delightful story of two women, mother (Julia) and daughter (Sonja).  Told in two parts, it centres on Julia’s story first, starting in the late 19th century, followed by Sonja’s story in diary form in the second part.  It is based on true facts, provided by letters and diaries of the author’s great aunt and her daughter.

It’s beautifully and compellingly written as we follow Julia’s life from her early twenties between two continents;  she's young, a little impetuous, but warm, caring and resolute.  These are qualities which she passes on to her daughter Sonja, the elder of her two children.  We are introduced to life in the early 1900s in Scandinavia, the States and France, as Julia travels where she needs to in order to ensure a secure life for herself and children.  We see in Julia traits of when women were starting to become more defined and assertive in society, and beginning to break away from the need for dependence on marriage to achieve standing and security. When we take up Sonja’s story it takes in the Depression, the Roaring Twenties and it becomes apparent she has inherited her mother's independence.

Susanne has a pleasant, extremely readable style, but the richness of her descriptions transport you easily into the European countries and American cities visited by Julia and her daughter; you can almost taste the coffee and croissants and hear the characteristic French accordion music of the Parisian cafes.

This is a lovely, enjoyable and Jane Austen-esque book, you will not be disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. Great first review, and a lovely looking site, if I may say so! Well done Cathy!