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Review: The Goldminer’s Sister by Alison Stuart

on July 22, 2020

The Goldminer’s Sister
Alison Stuart
Harlequin Mira AUS
2020, 381p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

‘There are people in this town with the gleam of gold in their eyes and cold steel in their hearts.’

1873. Eliza Penrose arrives in the gold mining town of Maiden’s Creek in search of her brother, planning to make a new life for herself. Instead she finds a tragic mystery – and hints of betrayals by those closest to her.

Mining engineer Alec McLeod left Scotland to escape the memory of his dead wife and child. Despite the best efforts of the eligible ladies of Maiden’s Creek, Alec is determined never to give his heart again.

As lies and deceit threaten Eliza’s life, Alec steps in – although he has problems of his own, as he risks his livelihood and those he holds dear to oppose the dangerous work practices at the Maiden’s Creek Mine.

When disaster draws the pieces of the puzzle together, Eliza and Alec must save each other – but is it too late?

I read and really enjoyed The Postmistress last year by Alison Stuart and this is a connected book, set in the same town and featuring characters that appeared in that previous book. In The Goldminer’s Sister, Eliza Penrose arrives deep into country Victoria where her brother William has been establishing a mine. In communication with Eliza, he has indicated that he believes it will turn the family’s unfortunate finances around and that she should come and join him when she can. However when she arrives, Eliza is met with heartbreak – and mystery.

Despite her uncle’s attempts for her to remove herself to Melbourne as soon as possible, or maybe even Sydney, locations that he feels would be more fitting for a lady like her, Eliza is determined to stay in Maiden’s Creek and find out exactly what happened and the more she digs, the more mystery she finds. She meets Scotsman Alec McLeod, who manages her uncle’s mine and as the two of them become somewhat acquainted, he brings information to her that definitely suggests deception and the possibility of extreme danger. Eliza must be careful for it seems that there are people who will not care what the law says and will stop at nothing to get what they want.

I found this an intriguing story, deepening the circumstances surrounding the Shenandoah mine that began in The Postmistress. Eliza has travelled a long way to join her brother and she’s anticipating a warm and happy reunion. What she gets however, is nothing like that. Eliza makes up her mind to stay in Maiden’s Creek to puzzle out some things that concern her and it doesn’t take her long to become immersed in the local town, teaching at the small school, making friends (and enemies) of the locals and also, forming a friendship with Alec McLeod.

Alec has known loss. He’s known helplessness. And now he’s half a world away from the pain and heartbreak and with his brother Ian, is trying to make a new life, managing a mine. He’s a conscientious person, who values his workers and doesn’t approve of cost cutting over health and safety. When Eliza arrives, Alec knows he has something that belongs to her, despite his sort-of reluctance to give it up. He also knows that it might be dangerous and because of that, he wants to see her protected.

I loved the relationship that formed between Alec and Eliza. Their first meeting doesn’t lend either of them to favour the other but they do manage to put that aside and develop a mutual trust that leads them both to confide the suspicions they have in the other and Alec vows to help her in any way he can. It leads to both of them developing deeper feelings, although Alec is in a bit of denial in some ways. He’s still grieving his terrible loss and it takes him a while to accept that he might be in a place where he can choose happiness for himself.

The mystery in this isn’t unknown – it’s pretty obvious who is doing what and why, it’s being able to get the proof required, dodge the dangers and actually make it public that occupies a lot of the novel. The last third or so, is really fast paced but well done with so much happening, not just to Eliza as she tries to fight for her rights but also with the mine and Alec’s role within it. It’s really unputdownable and I was racing through it, willing everything to come out into the open so that everyone would know what was really happening and who was really responsible.

There are side stories here, characters that the author introduces as seemingly not that important but later on they prove vital for one reason or another or take up a much larger part of the narrative than was anticipated and it makes me wonder if there are future books planned that will also be set in this area. There seemed like several options for future books and I’d definitely be interested in returning.

For those who have read The Postmistress there’s several characters who reappear in this one as well as a fun cameo with Caleb and Adelaide at the end that gives a bit of an indication how they are going. Getting a glimpse of characters I’ve read about before is always one of my favourite things, so I really enjoyed that.

This is an intriguing story well told with characters that are easy to connect with and hope for.


Book #133 of 2020

The Goldminer’s Sister is book #43 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2020



One response to “Review: The Goldminer’s Sister by Alison Stuart

  1. Marg says:

    I enjoyed this book too. I will be keen to see whether there is going to be another book in this setting.

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