Review:The Burnt Country – Joy Rhoades

The Burnt Country

The Woolgrowers Companion #2

Joy Rhoades

Penguin Random House

Bantam

ISBN: 9780143793724

RRP$ 32.99

 

Description:

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 . . .

 

 

My View:

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….

 

PS

I enjoyed the bonus recipes supplied at the end of the book.

 

 

 

Post Script: Spirits of The Ghan – Judy Nunn

Cover Spirits of the Ghan

Spirits of the Ghan

Judy Nunn

RHA

William Heinemann

ISBN: 9780857986733

 

Description:

Master storyteller Judy Nunn has now sold over 1 million books worldwide. In her spellbinding new bestseller she takes us on a breathtaking journey deep into the red heart of Australia.

 

It is 2001 and as the world charges into the new Millennium, a century-old dream is about to be realised in the Red Centre of Australia: the completion of the mighty Ghan railway, a long-lived vision to create the ‘backbone of the continent’, a line that will finally link Adelaide with the Top End.

 

But construction of the final leg between Alice Springs and Darwin will not be without its complications, for much of the desert it will cross is Aboriginal land.

 

Hired as a negotiator, Jessica Manning must walk a delicate line to reassure the Elders their sacred sites will be protected. Will her innate understanding of the spiritual landscape, rooted in her own Arunta heritage, win their trust? It’s not easy to keep the peace when Matthew Witherton and his survey team are quite literally blasting a rail corridor through the timeless land of the Never-Never.

 

When the paths of Jessica and Matthew finally cross, their respective cultures collide to reveal a mystery that demands attention. As they struggle against time to solve the puzzle, an ancient wrong is awakened and calls hauntingly across the vastness of the outback . . .

 

 

My View:

Australia has some great female authors and Judy Nunn is at the top of her field. Judy Nunn has a huge following and it is not difficult to understand why; her style of combining histories and the personal story are very affective. The narratives here share fictionalised historical based events of Australia’s colonial history and a fictionalised personal story of a child of The Stolen Generation (Rose’s story). The echoes of these stories impact and effect the contemporary narrative and the lives of the characters building the renowned remote railway track known as The Ghan Railway.

 

I enjoyed this style of writing, the histories, the settings, the characters. And even more I loved the spiritual element that plays a significant part in this narrative. I think this novel will play an important part in reintroducing the topic of the Stolen Generation to many readers. Judy Nunn introduces this emotional subject in her novel by the way of a very personal history; Rose’s experiences demonstrates the consequences of this policy. You cannot help but empathise with the plight of the individual and the generation affected. Kudos to Judy Nunn for tackling such a difficult issue and highlighting the damage that this policy continues to affect.

 

 

A combination of history, the personal, the outback and the mystical combine to make this an enjoyable and thought provoking read.