Review: Small Mercies – Richard Anderson

Small Mercies
Richard Anderson
Scribe
ISBN: 9781925849707

Description:
A husband and wife living on a severely drought-afflicted property take a brief break, only to find that their relationship is parched, too.

After enduring months of extreme drought on their modest freehold, farming couple Dimple and Ruthie face uncertain times on more than one front. Ruthie receives the news every woman dreads. Meanwhile, a wealthy landowner, Wally Oliver, appears on the local radio station, warning small farmers like Dimple and Ruthie that they are doomed, that the sooner they leave the land to large operators like him, the better. Bracing for a fight on all fronts, the couple decide to take a road trip to confront Oliver. Along the way, not only is their resolve tested, but their relationship as well.

Desperate not to dwell on the past but to face up to the future, Dimple and Ruthie make a crucial decision they soon regret. And when the storm clouds finally roll in across the land they love, there’s more than the rain to contend with.

Told with enormous heart, Small Mercies is a tender love story. It is a story of a couple who feel they must change to endure, and of the land that is as important as their presence on it.

My View:
Richard Anderson does not disappoint! What a versatile writer able to easily cross the divide of mystery /suspense (Retribution, Boxed) to evocative small-town drama set in realistic physical, economical, moral and political landscapes. This was an engaging and thought provoking read, storytelling at its best, nuanced and credible.

Anderson writes Australian outback with a clarity that comes from personal experience. “Richard Anderson is a second-generation farmer from northern New South Wales. He has been running a beef-cattle farm for twenty-five years, but has also worked as a miner and had a stint on the local council.” (GoodReads author page). The narrative feels biographical, I am sure there are elements of Richard’s own experience of life events, big and small, of farming and local politics that inform his writing. It is in the subtleties of these details of everyday life that Anderson’s writing soars. You can easily place yourself in the setting, in the emotions, in the relationships.

Against this backdrop of hardship and drought a finely drawn story of enduing love is exposed. We are privy to the self-talk and the situations, good and difficult, that all relationships face in varying degrees and we hang in there with them as they struggle to move forward in very difficult circumstances. I really like that this narrative is about mature age, long term married, likable characters, complete with wrinkles and a good dose of humanness. Anderson has taken such care in his portrayal of this couple that we feel privileged to know them and want them to thrive.

This is a timely written narrative with many contemporary social, economic, and personal issues that could be playing out live in a country or regional town near you. This is great reading. I loved it.

Guest Post:Six Ways to Sunday – Karly Lane

Six Ways to Sunday

Six Ways to Sunday

Karly Lane

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760296766

 

Description:

When city naturopath Rilee Summers meets gorgeous farmer Dan Kincaid, sparks fly. A whirlwind romance follows, and the next thing Rilee knows she’s married and living on her husband’s family property in a small rural community.

Never one to shy from a challenge, Rilee is determined to win over her in-laws and the townsfolk of nearby Pallaburra, but her city ways and outspoken views only seem to alienate her further.

Opening her own naturopathy practice has always been her dream. Although Pallaburra isn’t Sydney, and despite the fact she’s not exactly inundated with new clients, she’s not ready to give up. Things get even worse for Rilee when she champions the issue of teen pregnancies in the deeply conservative town.

Worn down by the ill-will towards her and what she sees as Dan’s lack of support, Rilee flees the station to think about the future. Can her marriage survive – or is she destined to leave Dan and move back to the city?

Six Ways to Sunday is a rip-roaring tale about a woman determined to stand up for her convictions even at the risk of jeopardising the future she envisaged with the man she loves.

Brenda’s Review:

Rilee Summers had her life’s path planned out in front of her. A naturopath, her dream was to open her own practice in Sydney – the past four years of working at the local pub while she studied had brought those dreams closer. But when she met Dan Kincaid, she had no idea her plans were set to change; Dan was a farmer from the property, Thumb Creek, near the small New South Wales town of Pallaburra. Three months after they met, they were married and Rilee was steeling herself to meet Dan’s parents…

Ellen and Jacob Kincaid were shocked and dismayed to meet Rilee – and didn’t bother to hide it. Over time their attitude toward her didn’t soften and Rilee felt she was fighting an uphill battle. But still, she did everything she could to have Dan’s parents like her – but whatever she did, they rejected.

Rilee could see that Pallaburra needed help – no doctor in town, and only a pharmacy with an old-fashioned pharmacist whose outdated ideas beggared belief. She was determined to open her naturopath practice, but the community weren’t interested and did their best to stop her in her tracks. Was it worth the battle? Rilee was starting to wonder.

But it was when Dan’s support for her plans vanished like they’d never been that Rilee had had enough. Her future looked grim – in fact she was no longer sure if any of it was worth fighting for anymore…

Six Ways to Sunday by Aussie author Karly Lane is a brilliant story of courage in the face of adversity; of fighting for what you believe is right; and the way some small rural communities are left behind and forgotten in the advancement of time. Rilee is a wonderful character; kind, empathetic and genuine – I felt for her and silently encouraged her to keep going! I loved her parents too 😊 I have no hesitation in highly recommending this 5 star read, Six Ways to Sunday, to fans of the rural romance genre.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my hardcopy to read and review.

Australian Romance Writers Are World Class

Australia has world class romance writers: rural romance writers/contemporary romance writers/cosy romance writers/cozy crime fiction writers/romantic suspense writers,romantic comedy writers, historical romance writers…writers of women’s fiction and life lit, have I missed any one out? If romance is your go to read then enter to win a copy of best selling author Belinda Alexandra’s Southern Ruby.   In the comments section of this post tell me what Belinda is referring to when she asks “…is this naughty or nice?”  Thanks once again to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing this generous giveaway.

 

****Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Giveaway ends midnight 28 January 2017.

Southern Ruby cover imageDescription:

Forbidden love. Family secrets. A twist of fate. The stunning new generational saga from Belinda Alexandra, bestselling author of TUSCAN ROSE.

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.

 

EDIT** News just in Belinda Alexandra has been voted #50 in Booktopia’s Australia’s favourite author of 2017  http://www.booktopia.com.au/australia-s-favourite-author/promo1140.html

 

Post Script: The Chocolate Tin – Fiona McIntosh

Please welcome Brenda –   0ne of my new guest reviewers. 

the-chocolate-tin

 The Chocolate Tin

Fiona McIntosh

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143797067

 

Description:

The highly anticipated, sensuous new blockbuster by the beloved, bestselling author of The Perfumer’s Secret.

Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.

Matthew Britten-Jones is a man of charm and strong social standing. He impresses Alex and her parents with his wit and intelligence, but would an amicable union be enough for a fulfilling life together?

At the end of the war, Captain Harry Blakeney discovers a dead soldier in a trench in France. In the man’s possession is a secret love note, tucked inside a tin of chocolate that had been sent to the soldiers as a gift from the people back home.

In pursuit of the author of this mysterious message, Harry travels to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where his life becomes inextricably bound with Alexandra and Matthew’s. Only together will they be able to unlock secrets of the past and offer each other the greatest gift for the future.

From the battlefields of northern France to the medieval city of York, this is a heartbreaking tale about a triangle of love in all its forms and a story about the bittersweet taste of life . . . and of chocolate.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Alexandra Frobisher was frustrated by her mother’s constant harping on her lack of a husband – with the war on there was a small respite as the three men who had been chosen as prospective husbands were at the front. But Alex knew she didn’t have long – she shuddered at the thought. Alex’s greatest wish was to work in the Rowntree chocolate factory in her home town of York; to learn the craft and make it her career. But 1915 was a time when young women of means didn’t work – marrying well and supplying grandchildren while supporting their husbands was what was expected. Alex desperately wanted more from her life.

When Matthew Britten-Jones entered her life with a proposal which would suit them both, Alex was tempted. A witty and delightful man, Matthew knew how to make Alex laugh; he had her parents eating out of his hands – but was it enough? Alex knew she didn’t love him, and he, though affectionate, didn’t love her either. But the solution would solve Alex’s dilemma; her future would be assured.

Captain Harry Blakeney returned from the war a changed man. He was determined to visit the Rowntree chocolate factory in York – his quest was to discover the identity of the author of a note of love he’d discovered while recovering bodies in France. The chocolate tin which had been sent to soldiers on the front in 1915 as a Christmas parcel had housed the note; in Harry’s search for the sweetheart of the lost soldier he met up with Alex and Matthew. But what would happen when their lives became bound in an inconceivable way and long buried secrets rose to the surface?

The Chocolate Tin by Aussie author Fiona McIntosh is an emotional and haunting narrative which had me reaching for tissues a few times. Blending mystery, intrigue and heartbreak with the historical romance of the times, the author’s ability to tell the story amid the depth of her research makes The Chocolate Tin an authentic and delightful read. A very highly recommended 5 star read from me.

With thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.

Post Script: Beyond The Orchard – Anna Romer

beyond-the-orchard

Beyond The Orchard

Anna Romer

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781925184426

 

Description:

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.

 

 

My View:

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.

 

 

 

Post Script: A Beautiful Young Wife – Tommy Wieringa

A Beautiful Young Wife

A Beautiful Young Wife

Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321180

 

 

Description:

‘He had never married and had never been with one woman for long; he had always remained a collector of first times.’

 

Edward Landauer, a brilliant microbiologist in his forties, meets a beautiful young woman. She is the love of his life, and when the two marry in France, Edward is the happiest man in the world. At first, Ruth Walta appears to represent a victory over time, but even she cannot stop him growing older.

 

After the birth of their long-awaited son, the ‘happiness, delicate like filigree’ turns into something new, and Edward no longer recognises his great romance nor the woman who induced it.

 

 

My View:

This small book pacts a powerful punch – it is the kind of book that as you turn the last page you gasp in surprise and question “What? No more?” You want more…please….

 

On the surface this is a story that touches on a relationship in turmoil – but it is so much more. Wieringa poses so many questions, presents so any brilliant social observations in this sparse but beautifully evocative prose; identity – especially that of woman now mother is exquisitely explored. Scientific progress/experimentation and pain intersect succinctly. Relationships are displayed and prodded under a modern microscope depicting change.

 

The ending – yes I wanted more- not because I liked the protagonist – I disliked him immensely; his selfish manipulative ways, his pretentious mannerisms, his judgmental attitudes… but maybe because I could see some hint of self-awareness in his later life. The author has skilfully involved me in this man’s narrative.

 

Post Script: The Patterson Girls – Rachael Johns

Cover The Patterson Girls

The Patterson Girls

Rachael Johns

Harlequin Mira

ISBN: 9781743693070

 

Description:

How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them?

 

When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mother’s death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.

 

The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.

 

Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions doesn’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew.

 

A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.

 

My View:

Engaging, entertaining, salacious; this narrative is a blend of many genres including  romance, contemporary fiction,  drama and a lot of family and relationship issues set in many locations including London, Baltimore, Perth, Melbourne and small town South Australia mixed with a glimpse of the trials and tribulations of long distance relationships in this era of the fly out work workforce.

 

I particular enjoyed the settings – it is always a joy to be able to identify an area that you are familiar with in a read and when Lucinda and Joe take their romantic trip to the South West of WA – Bunker Bay, I could picture the area clearly – and then I could not believe the coincidence – Rachael Johns has this couple stop for an ice-cream – in the exact location we stop for an ice cream when we do a trip from Perth to home – a road house between Bunbury and Busselton. How amazing. (I would love to have been researching this book, so many great locations).

 

This narrative is big on drama, big on issues (infertility being the binding issue, it is good to see this issue being aired in such an upfront way, it is a topic that needs more public airing). Themes regarding identity and family; obligations, ties, secrets, history and connections all play a part in this complex story.

 

Each sister has an opportunity to share their view point as they take turns in narrating. This is very much a character based plot and the different personalities are very well expressed and the connections and expectations within the family unit are ones we are all familiar with.

 

Overall an entertaining read that has much to offer the contemporary reader.