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Maggie's first two novels were published in Australia and New Zealand by Murdoch Books, and in the USA by Felony and Mayhem. Her second novel, The Second Last Woman in England, was also published in the UK by Little, Brown. Her third novel, Half the World in Winter, was published by Allen & Unwin in Australia and New Zealand  in October 2014 and in he UK in November 2015. Her fourth novel, The Safest Place in London, was published in Australia in 2016. Maggie's fifth novel, The Unforgiving City, is published in Australia by Allen & Unwin this September.

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The Unforgiving City


Colonial Sydney in the  final weeks of 1899: a city striving for union and nationhood but dogged by divisions so deep they threaten to derail, not just the Federation, but the colony itself. There are chasms opening, too, when a clandestine note reaches the wrong hands in the household of politician and Minister of State, Alasdair Dunlevy, and his wife, Eleanor. Below stairs, their maid, Alice, faces a desperate situation with her wayward sister. Despite sharing a house, Alasdair, Eleanor and Alice are each alone in their torment and must each find some solution, but at what cost to themselves and those they love? 

Maggie Joel, author of several bestselling books set in her native Britain, turns her discerning eye on her adopted homeland for this her fifth novel, where she presents a devastating vision of Colonial Sydney in the dying weeks of the Nineteenth Century.



'If you love Australian history combined with a gripping saga, The Unforgiving City is an excellent read.' Sue Wallace, The Weekly Times 

'Maggie Joel has created a stunning and evocative story that will sweep you off your feet.'

- Better Reading


Click here to read the opening chapter of The Unforgiving City.


Click here to go to the Book Group Notes.


Watch Maggie discussing the writing of The Unforgiving City here. 

The Safest Place In London


On a frozen January evening in 1944, Nancy Levin, and her three-year-old daughter, Emily, flee their impoverished East London home as an air raid siren sounds. Not far away, 39- year-old Diana Meadows and her own child, three-year-old Abigail, are lost in the black-out as the air raid begins. Finding their way in the jostling crowd to the mouth of the shelter they hurry to the safety of the underground tube station. Mrs Meadows, who has so far sat out the war in the safety of London's outer suburbs, is terrified - as much by the prospect of sheltering in an Eastend tube station as of experiencing a bombing raid first hand.

Far away Diana's husband, Gerald Meadows finds himself in a tank regiment in North Africa while Nancy's husband, Joe Levin has narrowly survived a torpedo in the Atlantic and is about to re-join his ship. Both men have their own wars to fight but take comfort in the knowledge that their wives and children, at least, remain safe.

But in wartime, ordinary people can find themselves taking extreme action - risking everything to secure their own and their family's survival, even at the expense of others.



'Don't let the title fool you, there is nothing safe about Maggie Joel's writing. Transporting the reader from a bomb shelter in London's East End to the deserts of Egypt, Joel's eye for exquisite historical detail combined with her nuanced characterisation will keep the pages turning. With World War II as her canvas, Joel's interest in families is again at the forefront of her new novel. In The Safest Place in London family life can be every bit as dangerous and explosive as the devastated world outside.'

Aoife Clifford, author of All These Perfect Strangers

“This gripping novel has an extraordinary twist.”  - Who Weekly


“[Joel] captures the horrors of war superbly.”  - Courier Mail


“A twist within a twist that left this reader anguished at the inequalities and unfairness of life in wartime.”  - Talking Books Blog

Half the World in Winter


It is London, 1880, and nine-year-old Sofia Jarmyn is dead in a horrific domestic accident in the drawing room of the family home. Six months later a fatal train accident in a provincial town results in the death of another little girl, Alice Brinklow...


                                          Click here to go to Reading Group Notes


‘Maggie Joel's new novel takes us upstairs, downstairs and into the darkest corners of  a Victorian household...If you like robust dramas with the occasional dash of dark humour, then you will love this.

Cecily Ryan, Daily Telegraph


A page-turner full of detail and colour.’

Canberra Times


‘An enthralling read.’

Queensland Times


‘A sombre but fascinating tale.’

The Australian



The Second-last Woman in England


‘In early 1950s London, the Wallises are a well-to-do family and a model of rectitude. The glacial Harriet and her husband, Cecil, a big name in shipping, enact the rituals of family life with an exactitude that reflects the expectations of their class. Joel creates the veneer of moral austerity that typified the times then chips away at it, exposing the inconsistencies that belied an idealised family life … Suspenseful’ Sun Herald

“The mesmerising story crackles with atmosphere and delivers some great twists.”

Carol George, Australian Women’s Weekly



The Past and Other Lies


A captivating novel about sisters, faded memories and long-hidden secrets spanning three generations. At the height of Britain's General Strike in 1926, a red double-decker bus driven by a volunteer crashes into a low bridge in West London. Almost eighty years later Jennifer Denzel reveals on daytime television that as a teenager she'd found her sister Charlotte hanging by a school tie in their bedroom. But Charlotte can't believe her ears -- it was, she protests, Jennifer who attempted suicide all those years ago.

“Joel is particularly good at depicting the kind of small, casual cruelties family members can inflict on one another.”

Kerryn Goldsworthy, Sydney Morning Herald

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