Starts At Sixty Review by Karen O'Brien-Hall

The time, and place, of the novel is so strongly established, I had to remind myself the people were fictional characters, not the people who built, owned and/or operated the Hydro Majestic. Julian cheekily uses similarities in name to great advantage, such as the fictional Meadow Springs for the real Medlow Bath, and Monika Fox for the name of the children’s book writer in the novel.

There are multiple twists in this family history, and the lush, strange, mystery persists until the end. The final denouement isn’t broadcast to the reader – as many scenarios as I imagined, I was not close. I recommend this novel to anyone looking for a good read with substance.

Write Note Reviews - by Monique Mulligan

 Leatherdale brings to life the grandeur and flamboyance of the pre-war and post-war era, when the Palace built its reputation on its glamorous parties and guests (including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Nellie Melba). This glamour provides a startling contrast to the dark secrets exposed through meticulous research by Lisa and hotel historian Luke, as it does to the ageless but dangerous beauty of the surrounding landscape. Leatherdale’s love for the mountains comes across clearly, matching his love for delving into the past and discovering new in the old. As a gothic-style novel, it works well, using the Palace as a brooding, secretive character, with plenty of gloom, fog, mystery and secrets to add to the atmosphere.

 

My Little Corner of the Literary World - Liana

If you enjoy watching shows like Downton Abbey or like a bit of mystery in the books you read, then I recommend that you pick this one up – especially if you also want to learn a little of the hidden history of Australia during the war. It was a fantastic read that’ll have you making your assumptions about the mystery of the Foxes and the Woods, and enjoying the ride through Family Ancestry that might also convince you to look into your own.

A wonderful first novel. And I hope Julian Leatherdale continues with a career as an author as he does know how to spin a tale and how to finish it off.

M/C Reviews: Culture and the Media - by Ian Lipke

The resulting tale stands tall among contemporary, historical writing as the author, his knowledge of the period encyclopaedic and his writing style original and fascinating, tells a wonderful story..

This book is all about secrets – hidden Australian history, family relationships, and illicit affairs. When Lisa begins to research the central question of Angie’s identity, she knows that what she might unearth might not be what she wants to know. As Leatherdale says, in his inimitably beautiful prose, “Secrets were as explosive as the undetonated hand grenades one heard about, hidden for decades under a hedge in an English country lane, waiting for some curious schoolboy to poke them with a stick” (126).

Palace of Tears is a Pandora’s box of secrets, a tale lovingly told by a master novelist, a fascinating tale of human strengths and follies. It is eminently satisfying.

Book'd Out - Shelleyrae

The tale is well structured, despite shifting between multiple perspectives and time periods. The story is well paced, with plenty of twists and turns in the plot to maintain interest. Descriptions, particularly of the setting are vivid. Melding history and fiction, Palace of Tears is an entertaining novel and an impressive debut from Julian Leatherdale.

Newtown Review of Books - Jeannette Delamoir

This is Julian Leatherdale’s first novel, and he acknowledges the debt he owes to the real history of the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath, built by department-store magnate Mark Foy. Leatherdale has researched and written for television series, and has a keen instinct for the novelistic potential of historical events. This story brings together the sophistication of global modernity and the Australian bush, and combines the glitter and glamour of consumer culture with the homeliness of a small regional community.