December 15, 2023

Review by Cristina Prescott

Agnes's Broken Dreams by Judy King is a tale that follows the
emotional odyssey of a woman as she unravels the enigmas of her
past and endeavors to reclaim the joy that once eluded her. Drawn
back to her native Australia after an absence of three decades,
Agnes heeds the plea of her aging and devious mother. Nonetheless,
Agnes carries her objectives, compelled by a youth fraught with
memory loss and clouded by unresolved queries.
The book offers stunning images of the protagonist’s lively and
occasionally entertaining world of her early years, providing a
vibrant depiction of her challenges and dreams. The writer deftly
intertwines the different aspects of Agnes's life, incorporating
psychoanalytic elements, hidden family truths, and the pursuit of
self-understanding into the narrative. The book explores Agnes's
relationships, revealing a realm where trust is difficult to find and
where people surrounding her easily have hidden agendas.
The strength of the novel lies in its depiction of Agnes's unwavering
resolve to confront the troubles that have plagued her, thus making
the story relatable and profoundly humane. Agnes's journey to
Australia serves as both a figurative and literal revisit to the places of
her childhood, as she seeks closure and restoration. The author
skillfully brings the characters to life, vividly providing intriguing
portraits of Agnes, her parents, and the key figures in her journey.
Agnes's Broken Dreams is an enthralling book that skillfully blends
intricate psychological insights with a captivating storyline. Infused
with moments of humor and optimism, this beautifully written novel
features characters that are unforgettable and nuanced. Judy King's
masterful storytelling ensures that this heartfelt exploration of
resilience, self-discovery, and the quest for happiness is a must-read
for individuals desiring a profound and emotionally impactful
literary encounter.

Review from goodreads

Review by BooksCoffee

King’s evocative novel depicts one woman’s coming-of-age journey as she returns to her hometown to unravel the long-buried secrets of her traumatic past. Growing up, Agnes has been the target of her narcissistic, unhinged mother’s wrath, but there’s very little she remembers about her father. When her divorce finalizes, she knows time has come for her to deal with her troubled past. She returns to Australia, the place of her birth and upbringing, and begins to look into the missing period of her childhood. Will she discover the truth? Will it set her free?

Agnes is a vulnerable yet intelligent and perceptive character who easily gains readers’ sympathies. The well-developed chapters read like individual narratives, but King keeps the book’s central themes of trauma and enduring pain constant.

The prose is a bit cluttered but Agnes’ story picks up pace right from the very first page, and readers will find it nearly impossible to stop reading. A hard-hitting tale that highlights the different ways in which childhood trauma shapes a person’s life.

Review from Cecilie Sheridan

“A deeply engaging account of a woman’s spirited quest for the truth about events in her troubled childhood and their consequences in her later life. Her story, at times evoking outrage, is related with growing intensity as she travels back in time to unearth the origins of so many mysteries.” 

Review from NetGallery

Review by Blue N

Like most people, Agnes, at sixty-four, is ready to recall the sweet and bitter memories of her past. A trip back to Australia can only help her recall those other worlds. Her dreams also become fodder for her thoughts. She especially wishes to remember her father. Reading this book is like reading a true memoir.

Some times Australia seems like a mysterious continent. Much of what we know is just about the convicts living there. Also,we can connect to it by thinking of sheep and The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.We might know a bit about sheep too. Plus, the Aboriginals come to mind. How dated is that information?

Agnes's Broken Dreams by Judy King is made up of Psychology. Agnes has heavy questions about her ancestry. It is so sad to have lived like Agnes with empty places in our hearts and minds.

Review from Amazon

Review from Sharne Warren

A harrowing story portrayed with depth, compassion, creativity and intelligence.

The strength and beauty that always shone through Agnes even when she was enduring abuse and cruelty is what kept me reading when my waking hours were haunted by the pain she endured on a daily basis.

So beautifully written, a compelling tale of survival and love, not in the traditional sense of love but when one realises they are not responsible for the pain others inflicted upon them.

Loved the descriptions of my hometown. A cathartic piece of art.

Review from TMil

Review from Amazon DE

Unraveling Family Dysfunction and Abuse

This story is a masterpiece of writing. Engaging and finely woven, with just the right transitions from present to past and back to present. Many who read this may relate to the family dysfunction and mistreatment portrayed on one level or another, and may find comfort in the fact that they are not alone in their personal experiences. What is breathtaking is the resilience and determination of Agnes to move on with her life in spite of it all, bravely taking that long look in the rear view mirror to discover and understand the "what" and "why".

Review from KARDI

Review from Amazon DE

A gripping story

Reading the book, you wish someone would step in and protect Agnes from her toxic family and environment. But the more the story progresses, the more you realize that Agnes herself, despite all the setbacks, keeps getting back up and moving on with her life, until she finally finds the strength to face the demons of her past.

As well as a gripping story, this book is also beautifully written. You can feel the heat, the dust, the underlying emotions with just a few carefully chosen words. A great book and highly recommended.

Review from Felicity Dixson Sydney

A fascinating and absorbing journey spanning childhood through to late adulthood. Deeply affecting, at times harrowing. The characterisations have a lively authenticity. The goodies shine through like nuggets of golden joy and hope . The story is an immersion into the social history of Sydney,family, relationships ,religion,loss,  guilt , wealth, class, survival and success. 

An uplifting redemption and transformation of the self through a lifetime of pain, discord and disconnection. Ultimately through the balm of creativity.

A beautifully crafted novel!


Thank you @RandomTTours and @JudyKing for letting me be part of this tour and reviewing this book. Agnes's Broken Dream is beautifully written and i found it difficult to put it down because I wanted to follow Agnes in her journey and see what happens to her. I really felt for Agnes and she very brave and i love how she chose to face her issues and heal. This is the first story i have read by Judy King and i enjoyed her style of writting and will read more books by her in the future. Great read and kept me hooked 5 stars.

Review from journalist - Diana Fortescue

Judy King’s semi-autographical Agnes’s Broken Dreams, is a remarkable first novel. The clues are in the sub-title ‘A courageous woman’s journey to the truth’ and the dedication ‘This book is dedicated to my gifted psychiatrist…and to all adult sufferers of child abuse.’ That said, the abuse in this case is primarily, though not exclusively, psychological rather than physical.

The novel opens with Agnes, born and raised - though hardly nurtured - in Australia, flying to Sydney from London where she is escaping her husband, fortified by a book called ‘Families and How to Survive Them’.

Having lived much of her adult life in Europe as an emotional refugee from the cruelties of her childhood, her purpose is to discover and confront her family about her own distant recollections, on the occasion of her narcissistic and cruel mother’s birthday where many will be gathering.

One by one we meet members of her surviving family none of whom had been capable of giving the child Agnes the love which she had craved nor the explanations she is seeking.

A further hint. The story ends: ‘With nothing to salvage from the ashes, Agnes will sever all further contact with her family’.

The pages between are a heart-rending narrative but one which is more than worth the journey.

Review from Kirstin Brown

Gosh, it's such a good book. Congratulations. The character Agnes, despite enduring shocking emotional and physical abuse keeps you hopeful, with her wonderful optimism, resilience and intelligence that comes from her wonderfully keen observations on life.

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