The Burnt Country
The Woolgrowers Companion #2
Penguin Random House
A scandalous secret. A deadly bushfire. An agonizing choice.
Australia 1948. As a young woman single-handedly running Amiens, a sizeable sheep station in New South Wales, Kate Dowd is expected to fail. In fact the local graziers are doing their best to ensure she does.
However Kate cannot risk losing Amiens, or give in to her estranged husband Jack’s demands to sell. Because the farm is the only protection she can offer her half-sister Pearl, as the Aborigines Welfare Board calls for her forced adoption.
Ostracised by the local community for even acknowledging Pearl, Kate cannot risk another scandal. Which means turning her back on her wartime lover, Luca Canali . . .
Then Jack drops a bombshell. He wants a divorce. He’ll protect what’s left of Kate’s reputation, and keep Luca out of it – but at an extortionate price.
Soon Kate is putting out fires on all fronts to save her farm, keep her family together and protect the man she loves. Until a catastrophic real fire threatens everything . . .
This was not the booked I expected to read!
Firstly I did not realise that this was the second in a series until I looked up the book details for my review. But don’t worry this reads perfectly as a stand a one.
Second – this is not the rural romance I thought it was going to be. There are relationships – but that is what life is about; the complex nature of our emotional resilience.
Thirdly – whilst this is a “historical” fiction the times are not that far away (late 1940s early 50’s). I found the social issues intriguing; women’s’ rights – financial, social, family, legal, work, domestic violence, the war, detention, The Stolen Generation… so so interesting and engaging.
This narrative packs a big punch – so many social issues, a tense engaging plot, relationships that felt real, I loved the way women supported each other and help raise each other up. The theme of fire was constant and added a cohesion to the overall plot and an uneasiness that anyone living in a dry, remote countryside will understand.
This read was surprising and amazing! I loved it and I hope you do too.
And I see a book to film in the future….
I enjoyed the bonus recipes supplied at the end of the book.
This sounds like a fascinating way to learn some of Australia’s 20th Century history, while at the same time enjoying a well-written story, Carol. I’ve always thought that history was most interesting when you see it through the eyes of individual people.
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