Today we have guest reviewer Brenda sharing her thoughts on:
Red Dirt Odyssey
The campervan sits in the driveway waiting for Alice–a jaded academic–and her husband, Will, to retire and hit the road … any day now.
But when Will suddenly dies, Alice is lost. Unhappy at work, and with her future plans thwarted, she rises daily, puts one foot in front of the other, existing not living.
Until one day, she climbs into the campervan and decides to go it alone. Escaping from her city life she heads across the Nullarbor, taking work as a shearers’ cook, and meeting a colourful cast of characters who will change the way she views the world.
Red Dirt Odyssey is a reminder that life can change in a moment but when one door closes, another opens. A story of contemporary Australian life explored – loss and loneliness, friendship and renewal, risk and adventure, set against the dramatic landscapes of outback and coastal Australia.
Devastated at the sudden, shocking death of her beloved husband, Alice was buried in her grief. She took extended leave, then resigned, her academic position not enticing enough to keep her there. Will had been part of her life it seemed like forever – his death just prior to their retirement and travel in their campervan felt cruel and unjust. Alice’s married son and daughter were supportive but they were grieving as well…
Gradually Alice found a way out of the fog; a plan started to form in her mind for herself and her future. And when she tentatively and nervously told her children she was going to leave her home in Melbourne and head across the Nullarbor in her campervan, by herself, they were shocked. But after much preparation, Alice was finally on her way – heading for adventures she’d previously thought she’d share with Will; now doing it alone.
And adventures she found! A mistreated pup she named Matey joined Alice on her odyssey; before long they were inseparable. Alice was a good cook – her meeting of Tom, boss of a shearing team – and his invitation she join the crew as shearers’ cook was an eye opener for Alice. And she loved it – exhausted but happy, she made friends with the “boys” and they raved about her cooking. As she continued across the Nullarbor to Kalgoorlie and up the west coast, the people she met and scenery she viewed had a profound impact on her. When one door closed, another definitely opened…
Red Dirt Odyssey was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read. A mix of emotions rippled through this book – happiness and new friendships; sadness and loss; grief and new beginnings – and it was set to the backdrop of the magnificent outback and coast of Western Australia. Aussie author Kath Engebretson has blended Indigenous Australians with ease into Red Dirt Odyssey – the varied and diverse characters are wonderfully written. I have to add that I love the cover as well! Highly recommended as a new voice in Australian fiction. 5 stars.
With thanks to Atlas Productions for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.