The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

| 14 January , 2010 | Reply

Jane de Graaff from I Ate It All

As a young and liberated woman today it seems inconceivable that there was ever a time when women were considered ‘less than fit\’ for life in the workforce.

But this is exactly the reality that Evelyn Gifford is faced with in London, circa 1924.

The war might have ended and the world might be trying to move on, but there are things that have been shaken, stirred and broken- things that will never be the same again.

Evelyn has trained to become one of the world\’s first female lawyers. Despite her family\’s disapproval and in the face of some formidable male opposition, she is determined to make a difference- to the social order, to the clients she represents and finally to herself. But it comes at a price.

Her family is grieving for the wartime death of her younger brother James, painstakingly wrapping his memory in only the good, the beautiful and the brave. Coming to terms with his loss, Evelyn immerses herself in the challenges of her work and her fight for independence.

But when a young and glamorous Canadian woman comes knocking at their door with a small boy in tow –who is the spitting image of James- the family is forced to question everything that they held so dear to his memory.

Suddenly Evelyn finds herself fighting for women\’s rights, defending a murder victim, protecting some children she hardly knows and desperately unravelling everything she knew about her beloved brother.

The question is: can she handle it? Or will she, in the middle of it all, let her vision be clouded by emotion, proving that women were never fit for the courtroom?

Surely there is no room for her to fall in love& is there?

Author Katharine McMahon tells a beautiful tale in The Crimson Rooms, part detailed social history, part murder mystery and part tantalising love story. For the women who believe that we deserve it all, not matter what we have to go through to get there, this is a brilliant, vibrant and engrossing read. A touching account of what one woman might have gone through to find her place in a changing world.

The evolution of Evelyn from stayed and yearning young woman, to determined and spirited pioneer for women\’s rights is a marvellous journey. McMahon paints in vivid detail the strictures, frustrations and emotional turmoil of the times. It would be hard to find a story that so envelops you in the social order of the day.

It comes with some heartbreak, but it\’s a brilliant read and a great reminder that women can do anything we put our minds to.

Available now:  Hachette RRP$32.99


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