The True Story of Maddie Bright

The True Story of Maddie Bright 1

by Mary-Rose MacColl

Paperback Publication Date: 01/04/2019

5/5 Rating 1 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $23.35

The bestselling author of In Falling Snow returns with a spellbinding tale of friendship, love and loyalty

In 1920, seventeen-year-old Maddie Bright gratefully accepts a job as a serving girl on the royal tour of Australia by Edward, Prince of Wales. Maddie's talents soon earn her the respect of Helen Burns, the prince's vivacious press secretary, and Rupert Waters, his most loyal man, and Maddie is in awe of Edward himself, the 'people's' prince.

What starts as a desire to help her family, devastated by the recent war, becomes for Maddie a chance to work on something that matters. When the unthinkable happens, it is swift and life changing.

Decades later, Maddie Bright is living in a ramshackle house in Paddington, Brisbane. She has Ed, her drunken and devoted neighbour, to talk to, the television news to shout at, and door-knocker religions to join. But when London journalist Victoria Byrd gets the sniff of a story that might lead to the true identity of a famously reclusive writer, Maddie's version of her own story may change.

1920, 1981 and 1997: the strands twist across the seas and over two continents to build a compelling story of love and fame, motherhood and friendship. Set at key moments in the lives of two of the most loved and hated figures of the twentieth century, in Maddie Bright, a reader will find a friend and, by novel's close, that friend's true and moving story.

Contemporary fiction
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Mary-Rose MacColl

Mary-Rose MacColl's first novel, No Safe Place, was runner-up in the 1995 The Australian/Vogel's Literary award and her first non-fiction book, The Birth Wars, was a finalist in the 2009 Walkley Awards.

Her international bestselling In Falling Snow was published to great acclaim in 2012. Her fifth novel, Swimming Home, won The Courier-Mail 2016 People's Choice Queensland book of the Year Award.

Mary-Rose lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and son.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (1 Ratings)
  • An utterly entrancing read.

    by on

    The True Story of Maddie Bright is the sixth novel by Australian author, Mary-Rose MacColl. In August 1997, journalist for Knight News, Victoria Byrd is about to head to Paris to try to write about the awful tragedy that has ended the life of the most loved and hated princess that Britain ever had, Diana. And to come to terms with the part her profession has played in it. Her relationship with American movie star Ben Winter has given her a personal taste of hounding by the press.

    But first, a lunch with Finian Inglis, of the tiny, ailing Barlow Inglis Publishing House, publishers of M.A. Bright’s first novel, Autumn Leaves, some seventy-five years earlier. Fin explains that he has correspondence from someone representing the author, and the first chapter of a long-awaited and much-anticipated sequel. If it’s real, it could save his business. M.A. Bright lives in suburban Brisbane and Victoria’s editor has agreed to fund her trip to interview this reclusive writer.

    Back in 1920, Maddie Bright was thrilled to find herself on Prince Edward’s Royal Tour of Australia, working as the Prince’s correspondence secretary. In her role, she felt truly honoured to represent H.R.H the Prince of Wales, drafting answers to the many thousands of letters that Australians wrote, and to spend time with the young Prince.

    Maddie’s father was a poet, and she dreamed of being a journalist like Helen Burns, the Prince’s Publicity Liaison Assistant for the tour. Meanwhile, she watched and listened and took notes: there was definitely something between Helen and Rupert, the Prince’s batman and Maddie was sure it would make a great story.

    Sixty-one years later, Maddie watches the TV news in dismay as young Diana Spencer is engaged to Charles: she has seen, first hand, what a close association with royalty can do. If only she could save this poor young girl.

    This novel tells several stories, set in different time periods, but all inextricably linked. The three main narrative strands are supplemented by extracts from M.A. Bright’s novels, snippets that make it abundantly clear whose stories they tell. While some of what happens may be fairly easy to predict, there is an excellent twist that will surprise even the most astute reader.

    MacColl has a talent for describing characters: “She was a person for whom the entire field of italics was invented, the way she stressed certain words. I was in no doubt that she stressed that word ‘successful’ to make it clear that it and me were a long way apart.” and “He is like the sun, making everything around him more bright, including my worst moods, which seem to flow out to him and pass away.” Maddie is the star, but many among her support cast are also genuinely appealing.

    MacColl gives the reader an intimate look at what happened on Royal Tours in the early twentieth century. Of course, as she states in her Writer’s Note, her Prince of Wales is fictional, but the man she depicts, stuck in a life he did not choose, is so very human and therefore believable: under great pressure, basically insecure, often incredibly generous but, perhaps as a product of his station and his upbringing, at times shockingly selfish.

    The sacrifice made by those who serve royalty is highlighted, while domestic violence, loyalty, abuse of privilege, and the toll of war on families all feature. This is a beautifully told tale, with humour and heartache, guilt and grief, secrets, but also love and hope. An utterly entrancing read.
    This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin