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The Bride of Almond Tree

World War II is over and Hiroshima lies in a heap of poisoned rubble when young Quaker Wesley Cunningham returns home to Almond Tree. He served as a stretcher-bearer; he's seen his fair share of horror. Now he intends to build beautiful houses and to marry, having fallen in love with his neighbour's daughter Beth Hardy.

Beth has other plans. An ardent socialist, she is convinced the Party and Stalin's Soviet Union hold the answers to all the world's evils. She doesn't believe in marriage, and in any case her devotion is to the cause.

Beth's ideals will exact a ruinously high price. But Wes will not stop loving her. This is the story of their journey through the catastrophic mid-twentieth century-from summer in Almond Tree to Moscow's bitter winter and back again-to find a way of being together.
RRP $32.99
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PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: The Bride of Almond Tree
  • Author: Robert Hillman
  • Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
  • ISBN: 9781922330666

RATINGS & REVIEW

29/06/2021 6:03:49 PM - Marianne
A moving and thought-provoking read.
The Bride of Almond Tree is a novel by Australian author, Robert Hillman. Wesley Cunningham was raised as a Quaker, so when the war came, he volunteered for a non-combative role. It didn’t stop him getting shot, but now he’s home in Almond Tree, all he wants is to build a house on the block he has purchased, “marry, raise children and avoid battlefields.” And when he spots his childhood friend, Beth, all grown up, he knows she’s the one. Elizabeth Hardy’s family accepts her declaration of fervour for Marxism with somewhat puzzled amusement. When Wes turns up with a bunch of flowers for Beth, she gently explains “I’m going to university in the city. I’d barely see you. And in all honesty, I don’t want a boyfriend. I have politics. The Eureka Youth League takes up all of my spare hours. Do you see? You’d be wasting your time.” She later suggests he marry her sister Franny, who will provide all he wants and more. Wes takes the rejection calmly and pledges his everlasting friendship: he will always care about Beth. But the attentions of Franny, and women of the Quaker community, do not move him. Meanwhile, Wesley’s older sister, Patty serves as a nurse in New Guinea during the war, then extends her service into Hiroshima, helping the sick and dying in that devastated place. “But she’s also in Hiroshima because of God. Quakers believe that God gives each Quaker a task in life and once he or she understands the task, it’s permanent. Patty believes that God wants her to help the people of Hiroshima. She can never escape that task.” A talented mason and carpenter, Wes is kept busy with construction in Almond Tree while Beth is at Uni, but is always available for whatever task she needs done, be it servicing an old printer for posters, or driving a fifteen-hundred-mile trek into South Australia. Beth begins to see that: “She had only ever conceived of loyalty as a loyalty to the people, to the program. But she had to concede that loyalty could also be loyalty to an individual person. Wes was loyal to her. Wasn’t this worth something?” Sent to London and Moscow, Beth realises she is being groomed as an agent for the Party, and willingly, if naively, undertakes a rather clumsy espionage assignment, with unfortunate consequences. Sitting in a cell, Beth realises she has: “barely grasped life in its complexity and danger before Pentridge. She had seen only the smugness of the bourgeoisie, never the heartache, the desperate struggle to keep a life going.” And if serving time in an Australian prison isn’t terribly onerous, her situation soon changes when the British Government gets involved. Nonetheless, Beth remains wedded to the Soviet communist cause, until her new situation makes it clear that it might be a very different prospect to the Marxist ideal. Thereafter, her idealistic actions endanger her freedom and, ultimately, her life. Throughout, Wes remains steadfast, unwavering in his support of his cause: Beth. The story meanders along over some twenty years of the mid-twentieth century; Hillman’s characters are ordinary people trying to live good lives according to their firm beliefs and convictions during dynamic times. It is not difficult to be moved by their plights, to cheer them on and hope for favourable outcomes. Some scenes are bound to cause a lump in the throat or a tear in the eye. Hillman easily evokes the setting and the era, and his descriptive prose is often wonderful. A moving and thought-provoking read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Text Publishing.
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SHIPPING AND RETURNS


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2kgs $40 $50 $60 $70
2.5kgs $45 $60 $70 $80
3kgs $50 $65 $75 $90
3.5kgs $55 $75 $85 $100
4kgs $60 $80 $95 $105
4.5kgs $65 $85 $100 $115
5kgs $70 $95 $110 $125

 

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