Liberty Review: Female Changemakers in Three Generations

November 16, 2018 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

Liberty Review: Female Changemakers in Three GenerationsLiberty by Nikki McWatters
Published by University of Queensland Press on October 29, 2018
Source: Publisher
Genres: Historical, Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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A powerful novel about three young women caught in the battles of their own times.

After the success of Hexenhaus, Nikki McWatters is back with a high-energy companion novel that draws on the ideals of sisterhood, loyalty and courage.

In 1472, Jeanne’s father arranges her marriage to a French lieutenant against her wishes. As armed forces threaten her beloved home, Jeanne risks all to rally the city’s women in the fight of their lives.

In 1797, unbeknownst to their father, feisty and brave Betsy, her brother and their best friend secretly join the rebel army, hoping to liberate Ireland from the tyrannical yoke of English rule.

In 1960’s Australia, country-girl Fiona desperately wants to fit in at university and joins the anti-Vietnam protest movement, despite her family’s objections. When a friend is conscripted, Fiona’s beliefs are challenged even further.

A fast-paced historical adventure and empowering feminist novel, Liberty’s great strength lies in the authenticity and grit of its characters.


‘Liberty is historical fiction at its very best: fresh, compelling and full of romance, high stakes, bloody battles, and heart-pounding moments. I loved it.’ Pip Harry, author of Because of You

‘Liberty looks at how hard women have fought – in small and momentous ways – for the equality men are born with.’ Maria Lewis, author of The Witch Who Courted Death

When we think about the challenges that we face as women today, including inequality, misogyny and the gender-pay gap, it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come throughout history. Covering three different women in different historical eras, Liberty reminds us of the sheer strength of female power when fighting odds that are against them – and it’s an empowering and emotional read.

First we have Jeanne from France in 1472 (I’ve never encountered another character that almost shares my name), who is betrothed to a French soldier against her wishes despite being in love with her childhood friend. Jeanne is caught amidst the Burgundian Wars, and I love her true bravery and conviction inspired other women to rise up against the seige and to help them win the war. Her story was definitely my favourite as she demonstrates what a true hero can be, no matter your gender, skills or upbringing.

We are part of something special, aren’t we? A real bloodline of the sisterhood.

The second perspective is from Betsy, an Irish girl in the 1700s who has joined the rebel community wanting to overthrow the English rule in Ireland. Emboldened by her brother and lover’s support, she makes a lot of gutsy decisions as she sneaks around behind her father’s back while living a double life. Although Betsy is part of the revolution, I felt like she was swayed a lot by Will and George and didn’t fully understand what she was in for. A lot of the time, she felt like a teenager sneaking behind her father’s back and I found it hard to relate to the gravitas of the situation she was in.

Finally, Fiona’s story is a bit more closer to home, set in Australia in the 1960s. Fiona is a country girl who moves to Brisbane, determined to study law and to become a barrister (which is pretty much scoffed at in those times). At university, she learns how to fight for what she believes in, socialism and rising up through student protests against soldiers being unfairly drafted for the Vietnam War. Fiona’s perspective is strong and clear, as she fully learns the power of her own voice and fighting for what you believe in.

“…when I look at you now, I see a girl who might just change the world.”

While the stories between these three women never cross-over, due to the different eras that they live in, what they share is the challenge that they face: fighting for what they truly believe in, despite the constraining circumstances they may face. In both Jeanne and Betsy’s world, women are relegated to getting married and having lots of children, but they definitely go against the grain when it comes to that. Fiona, despite the profession of a female barrister being unheard of, pursues her passion no matter what others say about her. I also loved hearing that Jeanne and Betsy’s story were inspired by true historical figures which are ill documented in history, and the author filled in the gaps to their stories.

Liberty is an inspirational story about three different women in history who each rise up to challenge their circumstances. The sisterhood they share between them, despite being separated between the pages of history runs strong, and it’s a fantastic reminder that we have never been alone in what we are facing today. Loosely connected to Hexenhaus (my review), I enjoyed reading about the circumstances of these three incredible women and it truly makes us think that we as women, can achieve anything if we set our mind to it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thanks to UQP for sending me a review copy of this book!

Liberty is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.95 or from The Book Depository.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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