Book Review & Give Away | Southern Ruby | Belinda Alexandra

In Southern Ruby, Belinda Alexandra wraps her storytelling magic around New Orleans, giving us two narratives, one in the present and one in the past.

Opening in current day Australia, we are introduced to Amanda who, after losing her Nan with whom she has lived since she was just a toddler, finds a letter and discovers that she has other family - New Orleans.

Determined to solve the mystery surrounding her parents and their death which her Nan refused to speak about with her, Amanda makes arrangements to visit New Orleans to see if she can reconnect with her remaining relatives and discover her roots.

Moving into the past, we have Ruby who, with Amanda’s arrival, is compelled to reveal the wrenching secrets of her glamorous (if somewhat illustrious) past - her loves and losses, the hardships her family faced and the racial discord surrounding 1950’s New Orleans.

Of genteel upbringing, Ruby and her perpetually ill mother sank to new lows when her uncle refused them further financial assistance forcing Ruby to find ways to keep a roof over their head and food in their stomachs. In doing so, she found herself living in the scandalous world of burlesque and falling in love with a jazz musician. It wasn't long, however, before Ruby came to realise that the comfortable and lovingly assembled world she had created for herself had begun to close in on her.

I’m not sure if perhaps in a previous life I was a resident of NOLA but, in this life, this particular city has always held a certain allure for me. I thoroughly enjoy learning about its history but, even more so, I love the way that some authors make the place come alive with all its mystery, vibrancy, seductive beauty and pagan heritage.

In this latest by Belinda, the past (and death) are never far away in a city that, whilst the sounds of jazz continually permeate its aged streets, is as beautiful as it is dangerous.

Blending fact into fiction, Belinda has created a rich setting both pre- and post-Katrina which is vivid and real, adding to the mystery as well as the colour of the Big Easy and, for me, the greatest weight was held in Ruby’s story in which issues of class, cultural identity as well as the sociological and political conditions of the deep South at that time, give a broad scope of its complex history and put a human face to the everyday people of "The City That Care Forgot".

Her scene-settings drip with atmosphere and her characterisations are colourful. The additional layers of intrigue surrounding the reasons for Amanda’s parents’ car accident as well as Ruby's own story add depth and complexity to the plot, while her descriptions of the food will soon see you wanting to rush and find your place at one of the characters’ tables!

From the elegance of the Garden District to the dark and sultry ambience of the French Quarter, the vibrancy of the Vieux Carre and the poverty of the Lower Ninth Ward, Belinda offers a well-traversed perspective to the charismatic Crescent City.

She is a passionate and confident storyteller and her writing is like an artist’s dream as she skilfully illustrates the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of one of America’ most culturally rich and diverse cities.

Highlighting the city’s charms and vices and, putting her own distinctive stamp on it, she brings us a story about loss, survival, hope and the desires of acceptance and belonging. Highly recommended.

I would like to thank the publisher, HarperCollins for providing me with a hard copy for review.

About the Author

Belinda Alexandra has been published to wide acclaim in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Norway and Russia.

She is the daughter of a Russian mother and an Australian father and has been an intrepid traveller since her youth.

Her love of other cultures is matched by her passion for her home country, Australia, where she is a volunteer rescuer and carer for the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES).

You can learn more about Belinda either at her website or in the interview I held with her recently.

About the Book

Forbidden love. Family secrets. A twist of fate. The stunning new generational saga from Belinda Alexandra, bestselling author of Tuscan Rose and White Gardenia.

In New Orleans - the city of genteel old houses and ancient oak trees covered in Spanish moss, of seductive night life, of Creole culture, voodoo and jazz - two women separated by time and tragedy will find each other at last.

Amanda, orphaned as a child and suffering the loss of her beloved grandmother, has left Sydney in search of a family she never knew.

Ruby, constrained by the expectations of society and class, is carrying a lifetime of secrets.

Amanda's arrival sparks revelations long buried: a double life, a forbidden love, and a loss that cannot be forgotten.

Southern Ruby is a sweeping story of love, passion, family and honour. Alternating in time between the 1950s and the eve of Hurricane Katrina, it is also a tribute to a city heady with mystery, music, and superstition, which has borne the tumults of race and class and the fury of nature, but has never given up hope.

ISBN: 9780732296445
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pub Date: 22 August 2016
Page Extent: 576
RRP: $32.99

I'm offering ONE lucky reader the chance to win a brand new paperback copy of Southern Ruby.

In order to enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below.

The giveaway closes at midnight (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on Friday, 30th September and one winner will be selected at random (using and announced here on the blog within 48 hours.

Please note that due to high international postage costs, this giveaway is open to Australian residents ONLY and you will be required to email me at in order to provide your name and street address.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to re-draw if the winner doesn't contact me within 24 hours of them being notified.

Best of Luck!!!


  1. Thanks for the opportunity Marcia! What a generous offer...I'd love to read this one :) Cheers! Brenda

  2. I really enjoy Belinda Alexandra's books. would love to win a copy of her new book!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This is the first one I've read of hers but I'll be making sure I get hold of her others. Good luck!

  3. New Orleans makes for such a fascinating setting. I like the aspect of the two different time periods.

    1. I love dual timeline novels myself and New Orleans is such a glorious setting. Good luck!

  4. I've met Belinda and she is a lovely warm person. She has some interesting stories of her own to tell. Would love to read her latest novel

    1. I'm sure Belinda has heaps of great story fodder. Good luck!

  5. Dual time book are great especially when it combines family and community history. Sounds like an amazing book

  6. Ooh, I just love Belinda Alexandra! I've read all except Sapphire Skies (which is staring at me its perch on my shelf!) and this. Even though I enjoyed these new settings away from Australia, I still find that I prefer her earlier works that are set in Australia... am just a homebody :)


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