Isabella Ross

Local author, Mary-Anne O’Connor’s new novel Sisters of Freedom is coming out this April. A narrative centring on female empowerment, the book is also set to make a real contribution to the local community as well.

Sisters of Freedom is a passionate tale of three sisters as they strive for freedom and independence and follow their hearts to unexpected places. Set in the Hornsby/Hawkesbury region in 1902, the novel also follows the story of the Australian suffragettes who fought to gain the right to vote and have a say in the laws that govern them. What the novel really demonstrates is how far women have come, but also highlighting the progress that still needs to take place. “The main character of the book, Frankie, her voice is everything I want to say in a perfect world – it really echoes the strong voices of the suffragettes. The timing is unbelievable, thinking about what has been happening in the news for women. It feels like standing in a cyclone at the moment – but a necessary cyclone at that. Seeing all those people march last month at the justice rallies, it gave me hope for the future,” Mary-Anne shares.

“During the research process for the book, it was a real kaleidoscope of emotions, feeling desperately sad for the women of those times. Men could beat their wives, force them to have sex, as minimal judicial action would take place,” MaryAnne notes. “At the end of the book is a timeline showing the progress that has been made, starting with the first women’s union in the late 1800s, up until Kamala Harris becoming the first female Vice President of The United States.” Mary-Anne and the book’s publisher will be donating $15 to Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter from each book purchased via the HKWS online shop. This incredible initiative will make a tangible difference to the lives of women in crisis within the local community, something Mary-Anne is very excited to be doing. “To give back like this is really incredible. I always wished I could do more than talk about the issues, so to directly help these women is fantastic.”

As Mary-Anne notes, it is important to recognise that the North Shore is not immune to poverty, injustice or domestic violence. “Growing up in Wahroonga, I was next-door to an orphanage that had Stolen Generation Aboriginal children and we weren’t allowed to talk about it, not to mention unmarried mothers that were there too. These things happen in our backyard and for so long there was silence. It’s time to ask, ‘what are we going to do about it?’”

Sisters of Freedom by Mary-Anne O’Connor, published by HQ, is out now where all good books are sold. RRP $29.99