The Postmistress

Written by Alison Stuart
Review by Marina Maxwell

It is 1871. Adelaide Greaves is the postmistress in the little gold-mining town of Maiden’s Creek. To her customers, she appears to be a respectable widow with a small son, Danny, but she is hiding a secretive past. She is really the daughter of a wealthy but domineering English ship owner. When her lover Richard Barnwell is lost at sea, leaving her pregnant, she is forced to flee her father’s wrath. Together with her loyal maid, Netty, she escapes to Australia.

Caleb Hunt is a former Confederate soldier down on his luck and also on the run from a turbulent past in San Francisco. When he wins a gold claim in a game of chance, he travels to Maiden’s Creek to investigate his new acquisition.

After Caleb saves young Danny from a near-fatal accident but is injured himself in the process, he is tended to by Adelaide. They are both attracted to one another, but much stands in their way of any open relationship as a series of events unfold that threaten exposure of all their secrets. Added to this is having to deal with the many mortal and natural dangers faced by those brave—or foolish—enough to live in the 19th-century Australian bush.

With its cast of appealing characters, its remote area setting and a storyline that never flags through many twists and turns, you will be captivated from the first page. Some of its extraordinary episodes, such as a smallpox outbreak, are based in historical fact, but the author shares this, and more, with her readers with the deftest of touches.

This is a delightful and accomplished romantic novel from Alison Stuart. The ending suggests there are more exciting adventures awaiting the residents of Maiden’s Creek. I, for one, can hardly wait to join them.