Exploring the past could change your life. It might also uncover another…
Rising Australian author Victoria Purman returns with her breathtaking breakthrough novel The Three Miss Allens, brimming with mystery, scandal and hidden family secrets, set against the dual backdrop of an exquisite mansion in the 1930s and contemporary Australia.
In 1934, the three Miss Allens - Ruby, Adeline and Clara - arrive in the seaside town of Remarkable Bay for their annual summer holiday. It's the last time they'll spend summers as a family. Adeline is engaged, Ruby is weighing up an offer, and Clara is just eighteen and about to start her life. But by summer's end, the lives they have known will change irrevocably and a mysterious secret will tear the family apart.
Eighty-two years later, Ruby's great-granddaughter Roma Harris moves to the now sleepy Remarkable Bay, retreating from tragedy. Roma's distant cousin Addy arrives too, fleeing a life with too much drama. It's only when the women discover an old guest book that they start asking questions about the mysterious third Miss Allen. Who was she? Why has she disappeared from the family's history? If they solve this mystery from their past, could it change the women's futures?
Told in a gripping dual narrative, lovers of Downton Abbey will indulge in 1930s opulence, experience the turbulence of uncovering family secrets, and discover the transformative power of healing familial relationships.
With more than 50,000 books sold to date, Victoria's vivid storytelling, stunning settings, heartfelt characters and meticulous local research showcase her as Australia's rising star of women's fiction.
Victoria Purman is a multi-published, award-nominated author whose tenth novel, The Three Miss Allens, will be released in late October 2016.
Victoria has worked as an ABC television and radio journalist, a speechwriter to a Premier, political adviser, editor, media adviser and private sector communications consultant. She has appeared at the Sydney Writers Festival and Adelaide Writers' Week, and has been nominated for a number of readers' choice awards, including RWA Romantic Book of the Year for her first novel and Favourite New Author at the ARRA Awards. She has been a Writer in Residence at the SA Writers Centre and has for two years in a row been voted one of Australia's Top 75 Favourite Australian novelists.
The Three Miss Allens
Author: Victoria Purman
Question: How did you come up with the idea for The Three Miss Allens?
Victoria Purman: While I was writing my fifth book, Hold On To Me, I had to find out the name of a group of islands which are in the ocean off the small South Australian town of Victor Harbor. I thought they were called The Sisters, but I wasn't exactly sure, so I consulted Dr Google, typed in Sisters Victor Harbor and up popped an article from 1918 which mentioned the seven Miss Leworthys: seven sisters on holiday in Victor Harbor.
My mind starting going off on one of those author tangents. Who were they? Were they all off to the seaside to find husbands? Did they work? Were they able to go to university or did they just have to wait around waiting for husbands? How different would there lives have been from those of mine and other women living today?
The idea for 'The Three Miss Allens" began to brew. I loved the idea of comparing the rights and freedoms of women today, in my three modern characters, with those of the three Miss Allens from 1934.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
Victoria Purman: It's said that when an author creates a character it's one third them, one third someone they know, and one third directly from the depths of their imagination. I think there's a little something in that! I certainly based the modern characters on the amazing women I'm lucky enough to call my friends: I took their stength, their humour and their determination as inspiration.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Victoria Purman: The ideas for my books come from the strangest places: a word, a song lyric, an idea I've heard discussed on the radio, a feeling that there is something I'd like to explore through my books. I must admit to being a terrible eavesdropper. I love hearing people talk to each other, not so much so I can steal their problems, but more as a people watching exercise. It's brilliant practice when you're trying to create characters. For 'The Three Miss Allens", all the fashion inspiration came from old copies of 'The Australian Women's Weekly" and the recipes from 'The Barossa Cookery Book" which was published in 1917.
Question: What is the best thing about creating a character like Ruby?
Victoria Purman: I had the most fun writing Ruby because in my head she was a thoroughly modern-thinking woman who was stuck in an era in which women didn't have the kinds of choices we are so fortunate to have today. This led to all sorts of challenges and dilemmas which, while so much fun to write, have made readers cry!
Question: What's next, for you?
Victoria Purman: I'm in the middle of writing my next book for Harlequin MIRA, and although I'm suspicious about giving too much away, it's based on the experiences of hundreds of thousand of Australians who came to Australia as migrants in the post-war years. My mother and her family were just some of them and I'm having so much fun researching for it.
The Three Miss Allens
Author: Victoria Purman
Interview by Brooke Hunter