Post Script: The Cowgirl – Anthea Hodgson

The Cowgirl

The Cowgirl

Anthea Hodgson

Penguin Random House

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143797265

 

Description:

Teddy Broderick has lived on her farm almost all her life, committed to the rhythms of the country – seeding, harvest, shearing and the twice daily milking of the cow her grandmother has looked after for years, but she dreams of another life, in the wide world away from the confines of her property.

 

She thinks she knows her home and its community inside out, until her grandmother Deirdre announces there is a house buried on the property, and Will Hastings, an archaeologist, is coming to dig it up again.

 

As they work together to expose Deirdre’s past to the light, the stories they tell bring them together and pull Teddy further away from her home.

 

But what is hidden in Deirdre’s childhood house that she needs to see again before she dies – and why? What is it that stops Teddy from living the life she truly wants? And will she ever find her freedom?

 

 

My View:

A uniquely rural Australian coming of age story that tips it hat at the #MeToo movement.

 

Anthea Hodgson writes empathetic characters that challenge societal pressures to confirm and be controlled. Sometimes there are small victories, though the scars form the many skirmishes take a long time to heal.  Ultimately this is an uplifting book that will bring a tear, all be it a happy tear, to your eye.

Out Of The Helmet…

Drawn today the winner of my Friday Freebie giveaway The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona Palmer. Thank you to all those who visited my blog for this occasion. I am sure the winner will enjoy this wonderful warm and engaging piece of rural fiction.

Out of the Helmet

 

Fans of Fiona’s work will be pleased to hear that Fiona’s new book The Saddler Boys will be published in September. Here is a sneak peek of the cover art and book description.  The book is available pre order here or here.

Cover Art The Saddler Boys

The Saddler Boys

Fiona Palmer

Michael Joseph

Penguin Australia

ISBN: 9780143799795

Description:

School teacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs.

In Conversation With Fiona Palmer

Welcome to Fiona Palmer

fiona1

Welcome Fiona to my blog and thank you for taking time from your busy schedule of farming and writing and family responsibilities to participate in this discussion about all things reading and writing.

 

Carol: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started on your writing career? Were you always interested in writing? How was the road to publication for you? Can you share some of your memorable experiences about the process? I know many writers – in – waiting will be eager to hear about your journey.

 

Fiona: Thanks for having me Carol, it’s my pleasure. I fell into writing. Being a student who couldn’t spell very well and was lucky to get a C in English, writing never entered my mind, yet I did get immense pleasure from writing stories in class. But my teacher was very literary focused. So fast forward a few years, a toddler, a baby and a full time job running the local shop and I start to write down this story that had been growing in my mind. It encompassed everything I loved about rural living, about our way of life and some of my dreams. I think it was also my escape from such a busy life of work and nappies. Three years later I had the finished product after I’d had help with the ASA (Australian Society of Authors ) mentorship I’d won also. I sent the first three chapters off to Penguin, and it found a publishers desk. She, Ali Watts, emailed requesting the rest and then a few months later I was offered a contract. Amazing. And Ali Watts was Rachael Treasures publisher at the time also and she works with many amazing authors who I aspire to. I had a whirlwind ride into publishing and haven’t looked back.

 

Carol: What does a typical day in your life look like?

 

Fiona: Get kids off to school, housework, sit down and write (if I’m not out on the farm driving a tractor) and then I stop when kids get home from school. Sometimes if I have edits, I’ll spend weekends and after school hours getting it done. But if I have no book work to do then I’m busy doing community work, volunteer work for various sporting clubs and then work out on the farm if they need me. 

Fiona Palmer and Ruby

Fiona and “Ruby” the tractor.

 

Carol: What inspires you to write?

 

Fiona: That is easy. It’s all around me. My home, the country, the rural lifestyle, the people. Our little town has a motto on its personalised number plates and it is: Pingaring, the place, the people. It pretty well sums it up for me. And when I go off to work at the farm I come home so inspired after spending time in the wide open paddocks, watching the kangaroos, birds, sheep or smelling the fresh turned dirt. It’s all around me. So many stories. I love sharing my passion with everyone through my books.

"The Farm"

“The Farm”

 

Carol: I loved your book The Sunnyvale Girls, the links to local history and the Italian POW’s interred in Western Australia made your narrative unique and engaging. Can you give us a little peak into what we can expect in your new book?

The Sunnyvale Girls

Fiona: I’m editing my new book now. The Saddler Boys. It’s based on a small town called Lake Biddy who may lose their Primary School. Our town lost it’s school in 1998 and it changes everything, effects the town. So that is one of the main threads, with a few other bits thrown in.

 

Carol: What’s in a name? Do you categorise your writing as Rural fiction or Romance?   Or a hybrid of the two?

 

Fiona: I like to call it rural fiction or rural romance, either one is fine. At least the readers know what they are going to get. I’m not embarrassed to say I write romance. It’s in a lot of books, even those that don’t class themselves under a ‘romance’ heading. 

 

Carol: You will presenting a session at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (May 29-31 2015) A Season of Love – what can we expect to hear about in this session?

 

Fiona: I’ll be sharing my journey to publication and the story behind The Sunnyvale Girls, plus answering any questions people may have. I love questions, fire them at me.

 

Carol: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

 

Fiona: Just that I hope when you pick up one of my books you can feel the passion and love I have for the country and that I can take you on an emotional journey to escape to a new place for a while.

 

Carol: Thank you for taking part in my “In Conversation With” blog posts. I look forward to seeing you at the Margaret Rivers Readers and Writers Festival. I’ll bring my camera.  🙂

Post Script: Hello From The Gillespies – Monica McInerney

Hello from the Gillespies

Monica McInerney

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781921901812

 

Description:

For more than thirty years, Angela Gillespie has sent friends and family around the world an end-of-year letter titled ‘Hello from the Gillespies’. It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself – she tells the truth . . .

 

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband seems to be having a mid-life crisis. Her grown-up twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

 

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together – and pull themselves together – in wonderfully surprising ways . . .

 

From the bestselling author of The House of Memories comes a funny and heartfelt novel about miscommunication and mayhem in a family like no other.

 

 

My View:

Contemporary issues enveloped in a cloak of love.

 

This is such a surprising read – glance quickly over it and you will discover a family story with characters that you identify with or have met along your way in life but this novel is so much more than the individuals in it; it is a story about the struggles of modern day Australians whether they live in regional or city communities, for all the issues here affect us all in one way or another.

 

Aside from a family that is as functional as any I or you may know, with adult children returning to the family home, midlife crisis’s, relationship issues, communication break downs, career crisis’s and the various stresses of modern life we meet a family that is also dealing with a tough life on the land; drought, potential mining on agricultural land, depression, isolation, to name a few issues, throw plenty of challenges into this mix. But it is not a depressing story – it is a heartfelt story peppered with humour and a touch of romance or two and hope – it is about life.

 

But more than these issues this is a story of a family and a mother who has recently discovered she has lost her own sense of self; she has been swallowed up by the social and physical environment she lives in and by her role as mother. For me this is the pivotal part of the narrative. Monica McInerney shines a subtle light on issues that mature aged women face today; life can stagnate, women especially become caught up in supporting all those around us leaving little energy or time for themselves. The joy of life can be missing.

 

You can read this novel lightly and enjoy a palatable tale of rural life and crazy exploits. You can read it on the train or plane or by the beach. You will enjoy the sense of fun and the satisfying conclusion. You can choose to look deeper, at the issues it presents and you can think and learn and maybe decide to talk, really talk and listen; to your mother or sister or good friend or your husband or partner and really get to understand some of what they are thinking.

 

A great read.

 

 

Post Script: Tracking North – Kerry McGinnis

Full of surprises, wonderful insight, humour, a poignant country side, a flowing memorable narrative and rich likeable characters, this novel has it all!

Tracking North

In a place this remote, anything can happen…

Kerry McGinnis

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781921901478

 

Description:

‘Vividly transports you to the Gulf Country . . . settle in for a really enjoyable read.’ Susan Duncan, bestselling author of Salvation Creek

 

Kelly Roberts finds refuge in the rugged and remote cattle country of northern Australia, but when tragedy strikes she is forced to find a new life for herself and her children outside of Rainsford Station.

 

She retreats to the family’s only asset – a freehold block of land owned jointly by her eccentric father-in-law, Quinn. In the valley at Evergreen Springs, Quinn hopes the fractured family might all come together to start over again.

 

Life in Queensland’s far north is wildly unpredictable, with daily challenges and the wet season, in all its wild majesty, to survive. But when twelve-year-old Rob makes the gruesome discovery of a dead body in the valley, real peril comes far too close to home.

 

Tracking North is a beautiful family story about life in the stunning Gulf Country, one of the world’s most unique and fascinating places.

 

 

My View:

 

I was both surprised and delighted by this novel – the settings are superb; McGinnis writes with a  rich colourful palette bringing to life the rugged rural lifestyle of cattle country in Australia’s north, portraying the hardships, the isolation, the Wet Season and the stamina and strength of  the women living and working in these remote regions. The women in this novel are the true heroes; supporting their families, educating their children (with the aid of the School of the Air), living in isolated communities, working on the station and dealing with the change that is modern farming. Tracking North is a fitting tribute to all women who have worked/work now in the bush/on the farm.

 

But Tracking North is more than just a story with beautiful settings and heroic women; it is a narrative that is written with passion and love, the words flow, unable to be constrained by the mere page, blossoming with wit, humour and such wonderful insight about love, life, family relationships and growing up.  I have never come across a contemporary work of fiction that has had me itching to turn the page, reading till early hours of the morning…such is the power of this narrative; engaging and mesmerising.

 

McGinnis has a great command of language and is able to make her characters and their conversations step of the page onto the stage.

I particularly enjoyed the old canny grandfather, Quinn; full of quiet wisdom, with a wonderful sense of humour and with the powerful motivation of seeking redemption, he transforms this narrative into more than a rural romance.

 

This novel is a delight to read. And I just loved the cover art!