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Book Review: Easter Promises—an Historical Anthology

By Clare Griffin, Sarah Fiddelaers, Ava January & Nancy Cunningham

Each story in this terrific anthology by four Australian writers offers a unique take on what is meant by,

an Easter promise…

I really enjoyed this selection, particularly because of the diversity of the stories. Overall, the descriptions and scene settings were brilliant, the characters were colourful and engaging, and the four unique time periods provided vastly different storylines. The first thing I noticed was that each piece was in chronological order— interestingly, it was reminder of the increasing social changes of each period. As we moved through each story, the female characters were depicted breaking down society’s barriers—real and imagined— becoming bolder as time progressed.

In "Easter Dawn,” by Sarah Fiddelaers, set in the early 20th century, the pressures of class and protocol are still evident, with Minnie and Eric adhering to the long-held values of previous generations, but with philanthropic concern to help those less fortunate. To see a man turn his back on a wealthy and comfortable lifestyle and choose instead to help the poor was admirable, but to have Minnie— depicted as a soft and gentle young woman to begin with—grow with strength and courage to surprise Eric with her tenacity, was a highlight.

"An Easter Lily on the Somme," by Nancy Cunningham, touched my emotions with its reality, as nurse, Ivy and doctor, Maurice, found love amongst the blood and death of a Casualty Clearing Station in France, during WWI. Serious Ivy is irritated by the humour Doctor Fletcher uses under pressure, but she is nursing her own silent pain. The softer side of Maurice with his sketches, and the kind and generous heart of Ivy added a poignant touch to the battlefields surrounding them. Evocative and moving, ‘Easter Dawn’ is reminiscent of the wonderful The Desert Nurse, by Pamela Hart. I wanted Nancy Cunningham’s story to continue.

“Le Malin Renard,"was a little harder for me, probably because I initially missed the ‘tongue in cheek’ humour at its core. But a re-read had me chuckling and the fast pace was a winner. Without doubt, the main character— the wicked and witty, Ariadne, certainly reminded me of many a ‘femme fatale’ central to an Agatha Christie mystery. The story begins with a jewel thief, an art auction in a French chateau

accessed via a funicular, together with a handsome inspector—it's a very steep incline. But there's no doubting the attraction between the man who hunts Ariadne, and the mark he leaves on her—and yes, there is the constant building of sexual tension. I loved Ariadne’s confidence, her unashamed vanity and of course, her renard stole, which added to the amusing tale.

The final story, "Eos," by Clare Griffin, was delightful. I immediately connected to Rosamund Winter and loved her interaction with the males throughout the story. The dialogue was brilliant— especially between Pearl and Rosie in later chapters. And Tobias gave me shivers from the start—in a good way! A great cast of characters, including those based on real people throughout history, kept the storyline moving along. I enjoy a good romance in historical story, particularly when based on interesting and true events.

I enjoyed this anthology, not my usual choice to read, but I would read one again by any of these four fine authors.

I received an advanced copy of this book to provide an honest review.

xx Chrissie

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