A remarkable woman by Jules Van Mil

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A remarkable woman is the story of Avril Montdidier, leaving behind the traumas of occupied France in WWII, and embarking on a new adventure far away in Melbourne in 1950. She brings with her a deep personal grief, but also a knowledge of Paris couture and a willingness to carve a new life as an independent woman. It is her worldliness, her experience, and her courage that make her a strong and unusual woman in her new environment, and it’s not long before she finds new friends, and new opportunities.

Van Mil’s novel vividly depicts the flourishing fashioning industry of 1950’s Melbourne alongside the outback beauty of a Queensland cattle station. Both environments draw Avril in, until she finds herself at a crossroads, having to make a choice between an ill-fated love and the career she always dreamed of.

Van Mil’s novel draws together themes that still resonate today: domestic violence, alcoholism, and homophobia, and her central character is a person who chooses her own destiny, carving her own future, and also providing for other women not as fortunate as herself. The motto ‘Timing is everything’ becomes a lucky omen, and she finds that her time does come around.

This is a novel for those who love historical romance with a strong female protagonist, and who are interested in the world of fashion. Van Mil brings a long experience of working in the fashion world, an experience that enriches her novel and makes it an enjoyable read.

Themes: Historical fiction, Romance, Fashion, Feminism.

Helen Eddy