'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Review: Those Girls

Pamela Rushby’s latest book, Those Girls, brings into the limelight the lives of extraordinary women in the Australian Women’s Land Army, and their valuable contribution during the war. 

The story focuses on the lives of the three leading characters – Aileen, Glad and Hilly.

The story begins in 1942. Sixteen-year-old Hilly, with her parents’ permission, and accompanied by her friend Liz, enlist in the Land Army. 

Within a week they are harvesting potatoes on a farm, a task deemed impossible by Liz, who abandons the idea and leaves the first day.

Hilly encounters other girls that are part of a larger enlisted group, but it is Glad, Aileen and Hilly that fit together, and remain working in partnership throughout the war. 

They are sent to farms across Queensland, whose male workforce is serving, and where hands are desperately needed to harvest fruit and vegetable crops.

Each girl comes with a personal dilemma and knowing the backstory of their life adds authenticity to the wider reason for their enlistment.

Rushby’s words create beautiful scenes; visual images that allow readers to share the personal lives of the characters; their feelings, and the situations the girls are living.

Descriptions of the places and areas they are allocated to, are revealed within historical context, enriching the atmosphere of the era.

Entwined in these backstories are breakdowns of the people the girls work for who at times take advantage of them and whose treatment is as unorthodox as the attitude of many toward the girls doing men’s work.

Especially interesting is the portrayal of the stamina involved, as their roles are extremely demanding - on the body and mind, particularly the shearing which must be learnt to be undertaken.  

This is an impressive and powerful story built on historical events, that presents the loneliness, courage, perseverance, dedication to duty, camaraderie, and friendship built between girls of the Australian Women’s Land Army.

Not to be missed!

Title: Those Girls
Author: Pamela Rushby
Publisher: Walker Books, $ 19.99
Publication Date: 3 April 2024
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760657840
For ages: 12+
Type: Historical Fiction