Post Script: Secrets of The Springs – Kerry McGinnis

Secrets of the Springs

Kerry McGinnis

Secret of the Springs

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143784586

 

Description:

When Orla Macrae receives a letter asking her to return to the family cattle property where she grew up, she does so grudgingly. Her estranged uncle Palmer may be dying, but he is the last person she wants to see, not when she’s made a new life far away from where she lost so much. But on his deathbed he utters a few enigmatic words about a secret locked away and a clue as to its whereabouts.

 

Intrigued, Orla decides to stay, reconnecting with old friends and taking a chance on a long-time dream of opening the homestead to tourists. Continuing the search for her uncle’s elusive secret, she discovers far more than she bargained for – a shocking truth about her parents’ marriage, and the confession of a chilling murder.

 

Set in the stunning countryside north of the Barrier Ranges near Broken Hill, this is an authentic tale of life on the land and a gripping mystery about old family secrets and finding love in the harsh Australian bush.

 

My View:

“Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and, at the age of twelve, took up a life of droving with her father and three siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener, stock-camp and station cook, eventually running a property at Bowthorn, near Mount Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir and now lives in Bundaberg,” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1219708.Kerry_McGinnis

 

I have now read three (of eight books) Kerry McGinnis’s has written, all have been five star reads. In each the landscapes are diverse in location yet feature rural communities and vibrant likeable characters who you want to cheer on, to do well. McGinnis’s female leads are always strong, intelligent, resourceful women and the protagonist in this book, Orla Macrae fits this mould – strongminded, resourceful, a quick thinker and ahead of her times in commercial acumen (think Airbnb for farm stays set in the 1980’s.) Orla realises that to survive on the land diverse income streams are needed.

 

In this narrative, family dramas and dastardly revelations will surprise the reader, these were different times.

 

Each page is infused with McGinnis’s trade mark love of the land, it is infectious.  Slip under the cover of this impressive book and be transported, listen to the wisdom McGinnis shares: ‘You couldn’t change the past; that was a finished page, one turned over, done with, not to be rewritten. But by constantly harking back to it you could imbue it with the power to cause past deeds to impinge upon the future.’ p353

 

 

 

Post Script: The Rarest Thing – Deborah O’Brien

the-rarest-thing

The Rarest Thing

Deborah O’Brien

Lomandra Press

ISBN: 9780994634603

 

Description:

It’s 1966, and a mountain pygmy possum – a species that scientists considered to be long-extinct – is discovered in the Victorian High Country and transported to Melbourne where newspapers dub it ‘the world’s rarest creature’.

 

Thirty-year-old Dr Katharine Wynter is a palaeontologist who’s more comfortable with ancient bones than live human beings, particularly men – an exotic species of which she has little personal experience, apart from a predatory professor who has made her working life hell.

 

Having studied the tiny possum in fossil form, Katharine is curious to see it in the flesh, but her much anticipated visit is disrupted by the presence of wildlife photographer, Scott King, taking pictures for an international magazine.

 

Before long, Katharine finds herself thrown together with Scott on a quest to locate the miniature marsupials in their habitat – the rugged Australian Alps. Along the way, the timid scientist discovers a side to her character she never knew existed, while the dashing photographer abandons his bravado and confronts memories he’s hidden for decades.

 

As for the elusive possums, the cute little creatures lead their pursuers on a merry chase…

 

My View:

For this review I will try something a little different – I will start with the cover and work through the elements of the book I enjoyed – and I did enjoy this read.

 

To begin with I was approached by the author Deborah O’Brien to see if I was interested in receiving a copy of her latest book and perhaps reviewing it on my blog. This began a series of communications where I was introduced to the lovely Deborah, her new project and the mountain pygmy possum.  As a book reviewer and blogger there is nothing more pleasurable than establishing a working relationship with an author.  Relationship established I will now commence my review.

deborah-obrien_

Deborah O’Brien

 

“Looking along the Blue Rag Range towards Mt Hotham, the inside front and back covers: Wildflowers at Blue Rag Trig with Mt Feathertop in the background.” This is the special gift edition paperback with a 360 gsm cover (which won’t curl), coloured endpapers and other non-standard features. (It is also be available as an eBook), though you won’t get the same depth of vision with an eBook copy. This cover is stunning and allows the reader to imagine themselves into the setting of the book, Victorian High Country.

cover immage

The next page – the author states this book is inspired by a true event – “the discovery of a creature thought to be long extinct. It was such a big event at the time that the Guinness Book of Records featured the mountain pygmy possum as ‘the rarest animal on Earth’ in its 1967 edition.” (Author’s correspondence).   And prefaces the prologue with this quote by Oscar Wilde: “To live is the rarest thing in this world. Most people exist, that is all.” I was primed to read this book, to immerse myself in the isolated natural settings and all things 1960’s.

The rarest thing

 

And what followed was totally unexpected. The prologue, set in Sydney 1941 details a rich and loving relationship between a father and his young daughter (the protagonist, Kathy, as a child).  Here the father plants the seed that the daughter can be anything she likes, even a palaeontologist (and don’t forget this is 1941 – such ambitions for a woman were unheard of). I loved the relationships described in this opening – there is love, laughter, respect and mutual admiration and support. Further, the elements of family, conservation and feminism are subtly woven into the prologue and are to become important themes in the narrative.

 

For me the overarching theme in this narrative is one of the feminists’ struggle for equal opportunities in education, the workplace and …life and relationships in 1960’s and beyond. O’Brien exposes some heartbreaking criminal behaviour in this novel (no spoilers here)…sadly behaviours like this have not been eliminated in our so called enlightened age.  (See Zoë Morrison’s Music and Freedom for more on this theme).

 

So despite the sumptuous cover, the elegant introduction and the heart-warming scenes of family in the early pages, this narrative has a dark core that will surprise you. There are plenty of meaty issues within these pages to affect the discerning reader and a number of twists and some references to an unreliable narrator that will keep you on your toes.

 

This is a surprising read; at times it reads almost as a journal, private and personal. Yet the narrative is larger than just the personal, this multilayered drama is peppered with pop culture references, history, conservation, social issues, isolated beautiful settings and is written with a feminist bent. This is a story that will fully engage you, surprise you and at the same time shock you as family secrets are revealed.

 

A most enjoyable read. Thank you Deborah O’Brien – it has been a pleasure to discover your writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: You Will Know Me – Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me

Megan Abbott

Pan Macmillan Australia

Picador

ISBN: 9781509817276

 

Description:

Katie and her husband Eric have made their daughter Devon the centre of their world. Talented, determined, a rising gymnastics star, Devon is the focus of her parents’ lives and the lynchpin of their marriage. There is nothing they wouldn’t do for her.

 

When a violent hit-and-run accident sends shockwaves through their close-knit community, Katie is immediately concerned for her daughter. She and Eric have worked so hard to protect Devon from anything that might distract or hurt her. That’s what every parent wants for their child, after all. Even if they don’t realize how much you’ve sacrificed for them. Even if they are keeping secrets from you…

 

A mother knows best… doesn’t she?

 

 

My View:

You might think you know what is going to happen, you might think you know what really happened…but you dont!

 

This is a book where the tension and the mystery sneaks up on you, it starts of feeling a little bit ordinary, an interesting fly on the wall perspective of elite sports; the sacrifices all family members make for the potential success of just one, the tight knit community dedicated to winning/to their child…to the sport but this is so much more.

 

This is a mystery, a story of guilt, parenting, family, love and winning at all costs! What a delightful wicked read! I loved how the author manages to sucker you in; you feel you know what is going to happen next, you anticipate the big reveal or should I say reveals? You think you know best…but you don’t!  Surprise after surprise!

 

This is an author I will definitely add to my Must Read List.

 

PS did I mention this very quiet unassuming character – the younger brother –Drew? Watch out for him – listen to his voice…

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Sugar and Snails – Anne Goodwin

What an outstanding read

Sugar And Snails

Sugar and Snails

Anne Goodwin

Inspired Quill

ISBN: 9781908600479

 

Description:

Diana Dodsworth, a Psychology lecturer, specialises in adolescent decision-making and, on the surface at least, her own decisions have led to a catalogue of successes: close friends, big house, good job. All that seems to be missing is romance, so when Simon crosses her path at a dinner party and proves to be the perfect partner, why is it so hard to tick the last box? In a marvellous twist, it soon becomes abundantly clear that one decision in particular, at the tender age of fifteen, still holds sway over Diana’s life. Can she reconcile her past self with the woman she aspires to be, or will she lose everything that has been so hard won?

 

Sugar and Snails, the debut novel from accomplished short story writer Anne Goodwin, takes sensitive subject matter, handles it with all the force of a freight train and leaves behind nothing but a truly immersive reading experience. Taking place in both the present and the past, between the urban streets of Newcastle and the pyramids of Cairo, the story is one of startling honesty and emotional connections. It carries comfortably the mantles of literary and LGBT fiction but, at its heart, is nothing more or less than a superb piece of modern storytelling.

 

 

My View:

What an outstanding read – the themes in this book are about identity and conforming to expectations, about sexuality, bullying, self-harm, adolescence…secrets and more (no spoilers here). I have not read anything like this before: powerful, engaging, intelligent, well written, with a mystery that is gradually revealed. I was really surprised at what this book had to offer – the synopsis just didn’t prepare me for the complexity of the issues and the emotional journey encountered in these pages.

 

A good read is entertaining, is engaging, is well written and if we are lucky shares a perspective that maybe the reader hasn’t considered before- Sugar and Snails ticks all these boxes and more. Anne Goodwin is a talented writer and I am sure we will be hearing more from her in the near future.

 

There are so many social issues to contemplate in this narrative (and I am having so much difficulty trying to avoid spoilers, I want you discover the depth of this story yourself.). The reader is given plenty of opportunity to consider what is being offered up whilst tying to work out the mystery that Cairo holds.   Goodwin writes a dual time line/dual narrative – Diane Dodsworth’s life as a young person and Diane‘s life now,. Diane’s early life is gradually revealed; going to school, facing many of the same challenges we may have faced in our youth – feelings of isolation, or not fitting in, not being the popular one in school…trying to work out where we fit in the world and what we want to do with our lives. Diane’s life now – is reflective; she is still contemplating the decisions she made in her youth that have directed her adult life, she still trying to work out where she fits in the world.   Identity.  Such an important part of how we see ourselves and expect others to see us and treat us but how much thought do you consciously give to this aspect of your personality? Some maybe more than others.

 

This is a wonderful coming of age (all be it a mature age) narrative with unique perspectives that will open your eyes to the world you are part of.

 

Check out Anne’s website: http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/

Post Script: All That Is Lost Between Us – Sara Foster

Fabulous West Australian author Sara Foster: 

All That Is Lost Between Us

Sara Foster

All That Is Lost Between Us

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781925184785

 

Description:

Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret – one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn’t know why. And before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness.

 

As a school psychologist, Georgia’s mother Anya should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it’s very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia’s father is wracked with a guilt he can’t share; and when Zac, Georgia’s younger brother, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships really begin to unravel.

 

Georgia’s secret is about to go viral. And yet, it will be the stranger heading for the family home who will leave her running through the countryside into terrible danger. Can the Turner family rise above the lies they have told to betray or protect one another, in order to fight for what matters most of all?

 

Set against the stark, rugged beauty of England’s Lake District, All That is Lost Between Us is a timeless thriller with a modern twist. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/

 

 

My View:

Sara Foster draws us into a chillingly tense narrative of secrets and lies with an explosive prologue that has her protagonist Georgia in a very dire situation (no spoilers here). The stage is now set, the scenery and back drops in place, and the principal characters ready – the excitement is building!

 

Sara Foster has produced a domestic narrative that is tension packed and full of surprises. Georgia’s secret is devastating and tantalising, slowly, ever so slowly we are given hints as to the nature of this secret, and it is one that will shatter the innocence of youth and test the multiple relationships discussed in this book.

 

Tension is just one element that Sara Foster excels in, she also captures that difficult relationship between parents (particularly mothers) and their teenage children – the dialogue or lack of it, the mood swings, the umbilical cord of protection almost severed by the child’s growing independence …the child like almost adult exposed for the world to see. A great accounting of these difficult times.

 

“Georgia has a secret…it is about to go viral….”   Get your copy now and find yourself enmeshed in this family’s troubled life. It could easily be yours.

 

 

A sneak peak of chapter one here: :http://issuu.com/simonschusteraustralia/docs/all_that_is_lost_between_us_sampler

 

 

All-that-is-lost-Blog-Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Thicker Than Water – Richard Rossiter

 

A feminist’s perspective: echoes of forbidden love and family violence rebound in this narrative.

22488954

Thicker Than Water

Richard Rossiter

University of Western Australia Press

ISBN: 9781742586052

 

Description:

After years of living in England, Marie returns to the family home in southwest Australia, to a father whose destructive impulses have been curbed by a stroke and to a mother whose passivity Marie never understood. Behind her is Edy and the deep love they shared before he left, suddenly and without explanation. Even further back still is Marie’s memory of her father and his fraught relationships with his mother, brother, and stepfather. Yet, when Edy follows Marie back to Australia, her father’s shocking revelation brings hidden things to the surface. Thicker Than Water is quintessential Richard Rossiter fiction: an intense, poetic, family drama, as well as a psychological tragedy.

 

 My View:

This is a small book that punches well above it weight. If you are expecting a light easy going read you are mistaken for this is a story of deep sadness and intense emotions that shares more than a hint of feminist awareness in its discussion of love, attraction and domestic violence. Domestic/ family violence does not necessitate the act of physical violence; power over, control, are just as violating and debilitating as physical violence as the relationships between Kenneth and his wife, Helena and Kenneth and his children demonstrates. This relationship only just starts to tip in the favour of Helena when Kenneth’s power is reduced by a debilitating stroke. For a short while at least Kenneth needs her help. And that of his daughter. I wonder why Marie bothered – he has treated her and her brother appallingly. Is it a sense of duty? Kenneth’s arrogance and brutality are unforgivable – throwing both his children out of the family home because they choose to exert free will and then to insist Maire have a birthday party at home only to cancel it on the day of the party; how sadistic. Just a few examples of Kenneth’s true nature. I did not like this character.

 

Through the narrative we are aware that there are family secrets and as each one is slowly revealed we think we know where this story is heading, what the big reveal will be. But you will be wrong and you will shocked and you will be outraged. This is not how you wanted this story to end. It is not fair. And it is painful. And the ending begs the question – what would you do in these circumstances?

 

PS

The Margaret River Bookshop is launching this novella tonight – will you be there?