Beyond The Orchard
Simon & Schuster
Lucy Briar has arrived home in turmoil after years overseas. She’s met her fiancé in London and has her life mapped out, but something is holding her back.
Hoping to ground herself and find answers, Lucy settles into once familiar routines. But old tortured feelings flood Lucy’s existence when her beloved father, Ron, is hospitalised and Morgan – the man who drove her away all those years ago – seeks her out.
Worse, Ron implores Lucy to visit Bitterwood Estate, the crumbling historic family guesthouse now left to him. He needs Lucy to find something– an old photograph album, the very thing that drove Ron and his father apart.
Lucy has her own painful memories of Bitterwood, darkness that has plagued her dreams since she was young. But as Lucy searches for the album, the house begins to give up its ghosts and she is driven to put them to rest.
And there, held tightly between the house, the orchard and the soaring cliffs, Lucy uncovers a long-hidden secret that shattered a family’s bond and kept a frightened young girl in its thrall … and Lucy discovers just how fierce the lonely heart can be.
Anna Romer is a great story teller – I love the way she is able to transport me back in time to a landscape and way of life that has long since disappeared. The best passages in this book I think are the descriptions relating to the early 1930’s. Romer captures the harsh landscapes, the shipwreck, the rescue, the unique friendships and the social mores with pictorial honesty. I feel like I am looking down the lens of a camera when I read these chapters – the people, their day to day activities; their kitchen, jam making, cake making, meals… gardening, chores, isolation…trips into town, socialising…all come alive. What a great way to breathe life into history. Romer agilely jumps between 1930’s to the 1990’s with ease – the two histories slowly collide.
Romer adds another level to this narrative with the addition of a gruesome fairy tale/ parable – slices of which she neatly folds into the script. I could not help but be reminded of Kate Forsyth’s Dancing on Knives – another mystery wrapped in romance edged with a brutal retelling of a fairy tale. Did you feel this connection?
A multilayered read with a little something for everyone – intrigue, mystery and romance peppered with a fairy-tale and a history lesson. Enjoy.