The Unforgiving City by Maggie Joel

1. First lines. 2. Published 2019 Allen & Unwin 3. Map of the City of Sydney, NSW, 1903 (3rd Edition). Date of Map, 12th January 1903. Scale, 8 chains to an inch. City boundaries identical with municipal boundary Proclaimed 20th March 1885. Compiled, Drawn and Printed at the Department of Lands, Sydney, N.S.W. 1903. City of Sydney Archives [CRS1179/1] Source: Historical Atlas of Sydney, City of Sydney 4. George Street, Haymarket, Sydney By Powerhouse Museum from Sydney, Australia – George Street, Haymarket, Sydney [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 5. A ribbon promoting a Yes vote in the 1899 Federation referendum in Australia produced by Turner & Henderson, booksellers and stationers of Hunter Street, Sydney By Turner & Henderson – from my collection [Public Domain] via Wikimedia
The struggle for Federation of the Australian states is a fascinating background to this story.

Alisdair Dunleavy is a Minister in the New South Wales government at the turn of the 20th century. He lives with his wife Eleanor in Sydney, and is involved in politicking to achieve Federation. Alisdair and Eleanor’s marriage is shaky, and each of them are trying to sort out their feelings. Their maid Alice is dealing with some difficult circumstances of her own.

“Offering no comment, the man consulted a large ledger opened on the desk before him, moving his finger down a list. And as this was his sole purpose, the pinnacle of his function as it were, he did so with a flourish and a solemnity that was impressive, or was intended to be. He turned a page, he moved his finger down a second column and then the finger paused. A tiny frown creased the man’s features. He looked up at the gentleman making the enquiry. He looked down again and the frown deepened. A slight flush appeared on his face.”

“It is a savage and uncivilised place and its people strut about as though they have the most magnificent city in the world when most have never set foot in London or in any great capital. They think their city is paved with gold when it is thick with sheep and flies and the children of convicts. It is as wretched a place as ever I saw.”

~Quotes from The Unforgiving City by Maggie Joel.
  • Better Reading: “Maggie Joel’s The Unforgiving City is a fantastic look back at the history of Sydney and the stories that are all too believable for that time. It is a grand, sweeping tale that grabs you the moment you open the first page. Each character’s story is completely gripping, interwoven from character to character with perfect ease. You are instantly involved in each character’s turmoil and find yourself questioning what you would do in their situation, how far you would be willing to go to keep a secret, and perhaps, most importantly – are you willing to forgive those who have kept secrets from you? Maggie Joel has created a stunning and evocative story that will sweep you off your feet and put you down right in the middle of the dirty streets of turn of the century Sydney.”

The official Maggie Joel website

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