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In 1919, thanks to the war and Spanish flu, potential husbands are thin on the ground. So four young women take an unusual course of action to solve all their problems . . .

A charming and witty novel, set in a small country town in 1919.

‘When Adelaide Nightingale, Louisa Worthington, Maggie O’Connell and Pearl McCleary threw caution to the winds in the most brazen way imaginable, disgrace was bound to follow.’

It’s September 1919. The war is over, and everyone who was going to die from the flu has done so. But there’s a shortage of husbands and women in strife will flounder without a male to act on their behalf.

And in the southern New South Wales town of Prospect, four ladies bereft of men have problems that threaten to overwhelm them.

Beautiful Louisa Worthington, whose dashing husband died for King and Country, is being ruined by the debts he left behind.

Young Maggie O’Connell, who lost her mother in childbirth and her father to a redhead, is raising her two wayward brothers and fighting for land she can’t prove is hers.

Adelaide Nightingale has a husband, but he’s returned from the war in a rage and is refusing to tackle the thieving manager of their famous family store.

Pearl McCleary, Adelaide’s new housekeeper, must find her missing fiancé before it’s too late and someone dies.

Thank God these desperate ladies have a solution: a part-time husband who will rescue them all. To find him, they’ll advertise. To afford him, they’ll share . . .

'Hilarious' Marie Claire

'A light, funny, warm-hearted read' Books + Publishing

'Laced with wry humour and a quirky style . . . it's a rollicking read' The War Cry



Marie Claire

A light, funny, warm-hearted read with occasional notes of darkness, which never shies away from the more serious elements of the era.

Books + Publishing

The book is laced with wry humour and a quirky style . . . it's a rollicking ride.

War Cry

Loveable to the end . . . with a cast of colourful characters.

Herald Sun

Quirky and quaint.

Courier Mail

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    January 29, 2018

    Bantam Australia

    384 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
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    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
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    • QBD
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    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    January 29, 2018

    Random House Australia

    384 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks



When Adelaide Nightingale, Louisa Worthington, Maggie O’Connell and Pearl McCleary threw caution to the winds, disgrace was bound to follow. They lived in a time and place peculiar in history on the matter of sex versus gender.

The time was September 1919. The war was over. Everyone who was going to die from the flu had done so.

The place was Prospect, a bustling rural town in southern New South Wales known abroad for its sheep and awful weather but distinguished in its own eyes by the imminent arrival of the railway and the excellence of its general store, Nightingales.

It sounds harmless enough. It wasn’t.

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Book Clubs
Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part-Time Husband Book Club Notes

Book clubs will love Barbara Toner’s charming, witty novel set in post-WWI New South Wales.

Also by Barbara Toner