Post Script: Dear Banjo – Sasha Wasley

Dear Banjo

Dear Banjo

Sasha Wasley

Penguin Random House Au

ISBN: 9780143784524

 

Description:

They were best friends who were never meant to fall in love – but for one of them, it was already way too late.

 

Willow ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Tom Forrest were raised on neighbouring cattle stations in the heart of the Kimberley. As young adults, sharing the same life dreams, something came between them that Willow cannot forget, and now ten years have passed. When her father falls ill, Willow is called home to take over the running of the family property, Patterson Downs. Her vision for a sustainable, organic cattle station is proving hard to achieve. She needs Tom’s help, but is it all too late, and too difficult, to make amends?

 

A pile of Tom’s heartfelt letters has remained unopened and unspoken between them. Willow must find the courage to finally bring them out. Their tattered pages reveal a love story like no other – and one you’ll never forget. Dear Banjo is a wildly romantic and utterly captivating story about first love and second chances, from an exciting new Australian author.

 

 

My View:

A few months ago now, author Sasha Wasley contacted me regarding the release of her new book Dear Banjo and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing. We struck up a “on line” friendship – based on our mutual love of our journeys to the north of Western Australia (the cover of her book had evoked many memories of camping/caravanning/working in that region) – based on that red pindan infused cover, I decided to give this book a chance.  And what a fabulous read I discovered!

 

This book is so much more than an Australian rural romance – in fact I would describe it as a coming of age or contemporary fiction, life literature with a dash of humanism. In this read there are three main characters – Willow “Banjo’ Paterson, Tom Forrest and the rugged Kimberly outback. Whilst Patterson Downs is a fictional town, the settings and the local community come to life on the page.

 

The protagonists aspire to sustainable farming practices – a unique perspective in rural writing and hopefully one that is becoming more popular with actual graziers. This aspect of the novel was fascinating, the hero of the book.

 

Engaging, well developed characters, realistic settings and a narrative that enchants this is a must read!

 

 

 

 

Guest Post – Sasha Wasley Talks Wine, Writing and Her New Release

Sasha Wasley

Welcome Sasha Wasley to my blog.

Sasha Wasley was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.

She has completed a PhD in cultural theory and loves nature, Jane Austen and puns.

Sasha is a farming wannabe, with a passion for animals and the land. Although she’s in her forties now, she still wants a pony.

Her debut novel, a young adult paranormal, was published in 2014. Today, she lives and writes in the Swan Valley wine region with her partner and two daughters, surrounded by dogs, cats and chickens.

Sasha writes mystery, paranormal and young adult novels as S.D. Wasley.

Welcome Sasha.

 

I was caught by your blog’s title and immediately tempted to find a way to match the theme – at the same time as introducing Dear Banjo to your followers. As I love wine, and my book is a love story, I felt it was a great opportunity to talk about … wine and love!
My favourite tipple is a fresh sauvignon blanc, and I love both the Australian and New Zealand varieties. In my book, however, my main characters love red wine. The story is set in Mount Clair, a fictional town in the Kimberley region of WA. It’s hot and humid up there, and I imagine red wine drinkers are in the minority, so this was a nice little trait for Willow and Tom to have in common. Let me share the scene where their love of red wine is particularly relevant. Formerly best friends, the two have experienced a long rift, during which they did not have any contact at all. But they’ve made peace and are friends again in this scene, and Willow and her family visit the neighbouring cattle station for Tom’s birthday barbecue.
From Chapter 14
There was a small bunch of people Willow didn’t know, presum¬ably Tom’s friends from town, sitting in a group. Willow went to say hello to the Forrests. Tom, already cleaning the barbecue, offered her a drink.
‘I’ve brought wine,’ she told him. ‘I just need a glass.’
‘Red?’
‘Of course.’
‘Come with me. I’ve got something special for you to drink tonight.’
She followed him into the house and he took her into the spare room. He bent down to open what looked like a dark cabinet in the corner and she heard the clink of bottles.
‘What’s that? A bar fridge?’
‘A wine fridge. I love reds but you can’t keep them properly in this climate. My wine fridge stores wine at the right temperature.’
He straightened and showed her what was in her hand. She gasped.
‘No way. Henschke Hill of Grace?’
Tom waved the bottle in front of her face, his eyes alight with anticipation. ‘Shall we?’
‘You shouldn’t open this tonight. Wait till your thirtieth.’
‘I’ve got something even more special for my thirtieth.’ He opened the fridge and pulled out another bottle.
‘What the hell?’ She stared at him. ‘Grange? Just how well are you guys doing here?’
‘It’s only one bottle. We don’t have a cellar full. I bought it a cou¬ple of years ago and decided to save it for my thirtieth.’
‘And the Hill of Grace for your twenty-ninth?’
He shrugged. ‘That was more of an impulse decision. But you like red, I like red. Hardly anyone in Mount Clair does. So …’
The corner of his mouth was tugged up in an expectant half-smile. She couldn’t help a little answering enthusiasm. ‘Let’s do it!’ He had the corkscrew in his hand before she’d even finished speak¬ing. ‘Cork,’ she breathed.
‘No screw tops for us!’
‘Where are the glasses?’
He nodded towards a cabinet against the wall and she opened the glass slider to pull out two big, dusty wineglasses. Spotting a pillow on the spare bed, Willow whipped off the pillow case and used it to polish the glasses.
Tom guffawed. ‘Classy.’
‘Resourceful,’ she returned.
He popped the cork and sniffed gingerly. ‘Oh, god. Yes.’
Willow almost bounced on the spot with excitement. ‘Is it good?’
‘Beyond good.’ He poured and handed her one. ‘Check us out, hiding in the spare room to drink the good stuff.’
‘Ours. Ours alone,’ she intoned and he doubled over laughing.
They clinked glasses carefully and sipped, watching each other’s faces. Tom waited for her judgement, although she could see he liked it just from his expression. The wine was beautiful and she sighed with pleasure.
‘Tom. It’s the nectar of the gods.’
‘It’s the aged nectar of the gods,’ he said. He gestured towards his wine fridge. ‘Wait till my thirtieth. It’s just a shame I offered half to another living human,’ he added, narrowing his eyes at her in classic villain style.
‘You’ll be lucky to get half the bottle, sharing with me,’ she said.
He laughed, but those blue eyes were on hers and they seemed a little intense. She sipped again, her body heating up uncomfortably.

 

Henschke

Henschke Cellar Door, SA (pic: Henschke.com.au)

I went to visit the Henschke cellar door in South Australia during a visit to the Barossa region in 2009 and it was such a wonderful experience. Not only is the winery itself the most charming, picturesque, historical spot, surrounded by green valleys, vineyards, and those amazing German-style churches – but the wine is incredible.
I stayed in Angaston, home of the famous dried fruit company, and I didn’t quite make it to the town named for my ancestors, Wasleys, which is in the same region. Sadly, the town of Wasleys suffered from terrible Pinery fire that ravaged the region a couple of years ago. I certainly want to go back and explore the area more thoroughly – the history and the buildings, as well as my own family heritage. And the wine may have a little something to do with it, too!

Thank you, Reading, Writing and Riesling, for allowing me to ramble on about love and wine, two of my favourite topics! I do hope your readers enjoy Dear Banjo.

Follow Sasha

Post Script: Everything to Live For – Turia Pitt with Libby Harkness

Everything to Live For: The Inspirational Story of Turia Pitt

Everything to Live For

Turia Pitt with Libby Harkness

A William Heinemann book

Random House Australia

ISBN: 978 085798 026 7

 

 

 

 

Description:

Everything to Live For is the story of one young woman’s survival against extraordinary odds, a testament to the human spirit. In September 2011, Turia Pitt, a beautiful 25 – year – old mining engineer working her dream job in the far north of Western Australia, entered an ultra – marathon race that would change her life forever. Trapped by a fire in a gorge in the remote Kimberly region, Turia and five other competitors had nowhere to run. Turia escaped with catastrophic burns to 65 per cent of her body.

Battle up[on battle has followed: first to survive, next to adapt – to the remnants of her face, the loss of her fingers, daily therapy, endless operations – and then justice. Because the race should never have happened. Turia’s fight with the race organisers is ongoing.

 

Everything to Live For explores Turia’s journey and the web of people and events around it. It is a study of strength – of Turia will; of the love of her partner, Michael, and the couple’s families; and of the support from their community in Ulladulla, New South Wales, who have rallied, raising funds to help with huge medical bills.

 

It is a miracle Turia lived when she was expected to die. But Turia was not ready to die – she had too much to live for.

My View:

This is an amazing story of courage and a demonstration of inner strength and wonderful family and community support. I was moved by this story and want to applaud the many people involved in the initial rescue and aid supplied by those first on the scene – the fellow competitors, the helicopter crew… their demonstration of courage and determination to rescue/assist the victims of this fire in such adverse conditions is commendable.

This is a story of which many people (and in particular, Western Australians) are familiar with, through the media coverage of the disaster at the time. What we weren’t privy to is the huge physical and mental challenges a burn’s survivor faces; the many operations, the huge changes to the survivor’s life – survivors of severe burns require years of treatment and support. Turia is a survivor – not a victim – that is very clear.  Turia’s story is one of unconditional family love and by family I include her boyfriend, close friends, extended family and community; Turia truly does have everything to live for and her inner strength shines through these pages.