Bestselling author Maggie Joel interweaves the history of Australia’s journey to federation with a story that perfectly captures the intimate daily lives and struggles of the women of the time. The Unforgiving City shows us a world were women had no control of their lives, and their bodies. Colonial Sydney in the final weeks of the nineteenth century: 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. When a clandestine note reaches the wrong hands in the well-to-do household of aspiring politician Alasdair Dunlevy and his wife Eleanor, chasms begin to open. Below the stairs, their maid Alice faces a desperate situation with her wayward sister. Colourful, immediate and involving, this is the sweeping story of three people, their passions and ambitions, and the far-flung ripples their choices will cause. Despite sharing a house, Eleanor, Alice and Alasdair are each alone in their torment and must each find some solution, but at what cost to themselves and those they love?

Born in England, Maggie Joel moved to Australia in the early nineties. Her short stories have been published in Southerly, Westerly, Overland, and the Canberra Arts Review. She has published four other novels. Her first novel The Past and Other Lies, was published to critical acclaim in Australia in 2009 and in the United States in 2013. This was followed by her second novel, The Second-Last Woman in England, which was published in Australia in 2010, in the United States in 2011 and in the United Kingdom in 2013. It was also awarded the 2011 Fellowship of Australian Writers’ Christina Stead Award for Fiction. Her third and fourth novels, Half the World in Winter and The Safest Place in London were published in 2014 and 2016 respectively.