Eleanor Limprecht’s second novel (which follows her 2013 debut What Was Left) unfolds in Sydney in the early 1900s at a time when options for women were still very limited. It follows the life of dressmaker Rebecca Sinclair. Married at 19 to the seemingly charming Don, Rebecca sees marriage as an escape from impoverishment and envisages a new life of freedom. Unfortunately, Don is not the man she thought he was. Then, Rebecca gets involved with Don’s mother and her ‘private hospital’.
Limprecht’s novel is based on the true story of a young pregnant woman who was sent to Long Bay Gaol after being convicted of the manslaughter of a woman who died from a botched abortion. The convicted woman gave birth in prison. Limprecht renders early 20th-century Sydney in fine detail, describing social mores, housing, food and clothing. As a Sydney local, I loved reading about characters riding on the Bondi tram, shopping at David Jones and having picnics in Centennial Parklands. Long Bay will appeal to readers who enjoy historical fiction and those interested in the social history of Sydney.
This review was first published online by Books+Publishing on 21 May 2015
You can find out more about Long Bay here.
This read/review is part of my Australian Women Writers 2015 Reading Challenge #AWW2015
© Paula Grunseit 2015