Allen & Unwin
Published by
Allen & Unwin (April 2010)
Original language
Historical adventure fiction


by Joel, Maggie

Mrs Harriet Wallis is found guilty of the murder of her husband in London. It is 1953, the same year as Elizabeth’s Coronation, and this woman is set to become the second-last woman in England to be hanged.

From this dramatic beginning,The Second-Last Woman in England details the events leading up to Harriet's arrest and conviction, culminating in the demise of a wealthy and happy family.
One year earlier the new nanny arrived, a woman still recovering from the death of her entire family when a V2 rocket struck their east London home. At the same time the Wallises received a visit from police officers investigating shady dealings at Cecil’s shipping firm, casting doubts on Cecil’s reputation and traditional code of behaviour. Then Harriet’s life is thrown into turmoil by the reappearance of a man she did not expect to ever see again and for whose safety she is gravely concerned.
Set in a post-war period when a well-to-do British family’s existence – both outside and inside the house – is ruled by a strict set of conventions, The Second-Last Woman in England explores the depth of emotions that exist below the surface of this upper class family but rarely surface.
Maggie Joel is a British-born writer currently living in Sydney. She has been writing fiction and non-fiction for over ten years and has had many short stories published including in the literary journals Southerly, Overland, Canberra Arts Review and Westerly. She is the author of The Past and Other Lies.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Annelie Geissler

Available View on Rightsdesk


Winner, Fellowship of Australian Writers' Christina Stead Award for Fiction (2011)

Quote: Allen & Unwin

On the surface this novel is an easy and engaging read despite its grim subject matter … As the plot unfolds it becomes clear that history has its claws sunk deep: World War II has taken a terrible toll on some people.

Review: Sydney Morning Herald

As well as being able to create a distinct sense of place... Maggie Joel has a wicked sense of humour.

Review: The Age

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