Heart of the Cross Review

Title: Heart of the Cross
Author: Emily Madden
August 2019
Publisher: Mira
Readership: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $29.99

I received a copy of Heart of the Cross from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

From Ireland to Kings Cross, a legacy of loss and hope echoes across the generations …

Tinahely, Ireland, 1959 Rosie Hart is content leaving her home behind to follow her new husband to Australia. But she soon discovers there is no room for her or their young son in the life he has built in vibrant Kings Cross. As their marriage crumbles, Rosie will need to fight for the golden future her son deserves.

Rose Bay, 1984 Haunted by her past, Rosie is determined her daughter Maggie will follow the path she has set out for her. But Maggie has plans of her own, and Rosie can only pray the grief that plagues the Hart name won’t follow her.

Sydney, 2017 When her grandmother dies and leaves Brianna Hart a secret apartment in Kings Cross, Brie wonders what else Rosie was keeping from her. As Brie chases the truth of Rosie’s past she uncovers an incredible story of passion, violence, love and tragedy. Is the Hart family’s legacy of loss inescapable, or has Rosie gifted her granddaughter with a future of hope?

A story set across generations, Emily Madden has woven a story of a family of women who’s lives have been changed by the past – even if some of them never know why.

Heart of the Cross is a story told from the perspective of three generations of women from the same family – Rosie, a young women immigrating from Ireland to Australia, her daughter – Maggie – who’s rebelled against her mother for as long as she can remember, and Brianna, the granddaughter left to unravel the mysteries of her grandmother. It’s a wonderfully complex story about coming to a new country, living through the break-up of a marriage, the tragedies that life can spring on you and finding your place in the world. Set against the backdrop of 1960s King’s Cross, it’s an interesting look at that time period and the way prejudices were perpetuated and, in some cases, overcome.

While reading, I admit that it was Rosie and Brianna’s stories that truly held my attention. Maggie’s story was important, because it bridged the grandmother-granddaughter story, but ultimately I felt like Maggie’s perspective came in a bit late for me to become truly invested in her. That said, the rest of the story held my attention in a way historical fiction normally doesn’t – I was engrossed by the place and the characters and the secrets that are revealed slowly over time.

Rosie is a strong female character, who travels the ocean to be with her husband and the father of her child in a new country where she knows no-one else. She faces a crumbling marriage and strange land with fierce determination. She discovers love and courage and faces such heartbreak that when it’s finally revealed I had to read it several times because I just couldn’t believe what had happened.

Brianna, on the hand, has never really settled down, and is called back to settle her grandmother’s estate when Rosie passes away. She begins to discover that the woman who raised her had secrets she never knew about and a history that is far from what she believed. I also liked that as Brianna uncovers the truth of Rosie’s history’s she’s also learning to find her place and a home she never thought she’d be able to settle in. And love, because we can’t forget that.

I was really pleasantly surprised by Heart of the Cross. It’s not something I would normally pick up for myself, but once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more Emily Madden books in the future.

Publisher’s Website Readings Dymocks Booktopia Book Depository

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