Review: Absolution Creek by Nicole Alexander

@ Goodreads

Title: Absolution Creek

Author: Nicole Alexander

Published: Random House Australia September 2012

Synopsis: In 1923 nineteen-year-old Jack Manning watches the construction of the mighty Harbour Bridge and dreams of being more than just a grocer’s son. So when he’s offered the chance to manage Absolution Creek, a sheep property 800 miles from Sydney, he seizes the opportunity. But outback life is tough, particularly if you’re young, inexperienced and have only a few textbooks to guide you. Then a thirteen-year-old girl, Squib Hamilton, quite literally washes up on his doorstep – setting in motion a devastating chain of events… Forty years later and Cora Hamilton is waging a constant battle to keep Absolution Creek in business. She’s ostracized by the local community and hindered by her inability to move on from the terrible events of her past, which haunt her both physically and emotionally. Only one man knows what really happened in 1923. A dying man who is riding towards Absolution Creek, seeking his own salvation… From the gleaming foreshores of Sydney Harbour to the vast Australian outback, this is a story of betrayal and redemption and of an enduring love which defies even death. Read an excerpt

Status: Read from November 25 to 27, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy TheReadingRoom/ Random House Australia}

My Thoughts:

As a fourth generation grazier, Nicole Alexander writes what she knows, sweeping sagas set in Australia’s rural farming land. Absolution Creek is her third novel, with dual narratives set in 1923 and 1965.

Jack Manning is eager to escape the family run grocery store in Sydney’s grimy city streets and make his fortune so when a kindly neighbour offers him the opportunity to make a living on the land he jumps at the chance. Promising to send for his sweetheart, Olive, in a few months, Jack sets off to Absolution Creek determined to establish New South Wales finest station. With only a few books to guide him he purchases sheep and begins the arduous task of taming the bush.
More than forty years later, as an old man begins his journey from southern Queensland in search of redemption, Cora chases a wild pig from the banks of Absolution Creek in the predawn light and considers the imminent arrival of the niece she has never met, and her plan for revenge against the step sister who destroyed her family.

Initially the shift between timelines is quite disorientating as the characters seem entirely unrelated but as the narrative unfolds revealing the past and present, the stunning connections between Jack, Scrubber, Cora slowly begins to emerge. Three quarters of the way through the lengthy book I was tempted to complain about the sheer crowd of characters but as the book concludes each finds a path that adds to the depth of the plot. It was Squib’s, and later Cora’s, story I found most intriguing though, as the epicenter for novel’s story.

The historical details in the novel are fascinating, beginning with the forced acquisition of homes and businesses to make way for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I can barely imagine the city without the iconic structure in place. I was also unfamiliar with the story of the ram featured on our fifty cent piece, (I am sure I have mentioned it before but Australian history was completely neglected when I was at school and I am constantly amazed at what I am finally learning through fiction) which I found interesting. At least I know a little about the hard work it took (and still takes) to farm in rural Australia and I felt Alexander’s portrayal of the life authentic.

Absolution Creek is a complex tale of love, betrayal, jealousy, murder and revenge. I found it to be an absorbing read and I’d recommend Absolution Creek to fans of both historical fiction and the rural lit/romance genres. I am only sorry it took it’s time making it’s way to the top of my reading list.

Available To Purchase

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nicole Alexander - Australian Storyteller
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 15:23:58

    Thanks for the thumbs up.

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  2. Denise Maclaren
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 16:14:25

    Sounds like a great book, just the type I like.

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  3. The Australian Bookshelf
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 20:26:19

    Great review Shelleyrae, this sounds like a fantastic read. I am a fan of historical fiction and rural lit, so this one may be just up my alley!

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  4. Kate Loveday
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 09:10:55

    This sounds like definitely my kind of book. I’m anxious to read it and am going to add it to my ereader today! thanks for a great review.

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  5. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Dec 11, 2012 @ 11:46:50

    Congratulations to Nicole for another wonderful effort!

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  6. Frank T
    Apr 02, 2014 @ 19:51:54

    I am finding reading this book very difficult and very disjointed. I can’t make out who the characters are and the to ing and fro ing between times is awful. I love the detail of the settings, both in Sydney and outback, but I have no idea who is who and where any connections are. I have given up reading it, even though it seems things come together (according to other comments) but I can’t struggle towards that any more. There is much more pain than joy in this book for me

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