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"An Unconventional Wife, Mary Hoban's elegant biography of Julia Sorrell Arnold, who was born in Tasmania in 1826 and died in England 61 years later, challenges traditional notions of biography, examining a woman other writers might have ignored...An Unconventional Wife performs a worthy act of recovery in lucid prose, revealing an intelligent woman caught up in the struggles and limitations of her time."
"In An Unconventional Wife, Mary Hoban has given us an inconvenient heroine: a woman hobbled by her times, champing at the bit, going nowhere but telling us everything. Pieced together through impeccable research and told with all the urgency and intrigue of a soap opera, the story of Julia Sorell demands recognition of--and respect for--a woman who would otherwise be lost to history. Utterly charming."
"An exceptional exercise in factual delving and a feat of imaginative sympathy."
"A magisterial work of biography, utterly assured in research and style. This compelling and moving book reanimates the lost life of Julia Sorell Arnold, a spirited, independent woman in an age when women were expected to be quiet. With deep insight and empathy Hoban brings to life Julia and Tom's troublesome marriage. Their passionate but fractious relationship speaks directly to the irascible relations between women and men in our own divisive times. This book is a remarkable achievement by an expert and gifted biographer."
"Hoban has uncovered the story of a woman, admired by many friends and family, who refused to bow to the customs of the day, spoke her mind when others would have kept quiet and stayed true to her faith...a remarkable life that needed to be told."
--Barry Reynolds, Herald Sun
"An Unconventional Wife is superbly written, and skilfully draws on a number of diverse sources, compensating for a lamented lack--an intimate diary kept by Julia herself. Mary Hoban has got to the kernel of this story, since she has correctly conceived it as an exercise in the recuperation of women's history."
--Jim Davidson, Australian Book Review
"Hoban portrays her as an independently-minded woman at a time when women were expected to conform to their husband's views."
--Andrea Ripper, Courier Mail