Review: Blackwattle Lake by Pamela Cook

BLACKWATTLE_LAKE_Cover

Title: Blackwattle Lake

Author: Pamela Cook

Published: Hachette December 2012

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from February 11 to 13, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the Author}

My Thoughts:
In Pamela Cook’s debut novel, Blackwattle Lake, Eve Nicholls has returned to her hometown after an absence of twenty years, having inherited the family farm upon her mother’s death. She plans to sell up and move on as quickly as possible, unwilling to remain in the community that drove her away twenty years ago. But as Eve sorts through a lifetime of clutter and memories, she is forced to confront the consequences of the choices she made as a teenager, and find a way to live with them if she is to have the future she hopes for.

I was expecting what has become a reasonably formulaic storyline for the rural fiction genre (misled in part by the cover) only to be pleasantly surprised by Blackwattle Lake. This is largely a character driven novel focusing on the protagonist’s need to confront the tragic circumstances that precipitated her abandoning her home, family and friends, though she is also forced to cope with external challenges including a raging bushfire that menaces the community.

The moment Eve swore, lit a cigarette and poured herself a drink while her kelpie, Banjo, lay panting at her feet, I knew we were going to get along. She felt familiar in an indefinable way and is probably one of the most authentic characters I have encountered in a while. She is complicated in ordinary ways and though defensive and abrupt at times, Eve invokes sympathy without pity.

For me, the absence of a traditional romantic subplot was refreshing. There are a few interesting moments with the childhood sweetheart she left behind, the cheating ex who follows her to beg for forgiveness and the vet who saves Banjo’s life but they contribute to developing Eve’s character rather than providing a convenient distraction from her journey.

I found the realism of character, crisis and landscape in Blackwattle Lake very engaging. Cook proves to be a skilled writer, deftly capturing natural dialogue and behaviour. From the first page I was able to create a mental picture of Eve’s surroundings with small details, such as the “crushed Coke can littering the path”, and the “humming of cicadas working their way up to a crescendo somewhere above her head” providing sensory realism to the scene.

Well written, with appealing characterisation and an engaging storyline, Blackwattle Lake is an appealing contemporary novel set in rural Australia which I truly enjoyed. I look forward to reading more from Pamela Cook in the future.

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Available To Purchase

All good bookstores including Dymocks and Unleash. Also available at Target, Big W and Kmart.

Harbour Bookshop Ulladulla

Booktopia

Amazon

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marg
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 20:52:08

    This sounds like a good read. As much as I love a good romance, this does sound like a refreshingly different read.

    Reply

  2. Kate Lovedaykate loveday
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 14:10:21

    I love stories of rural Australia and this one sounds as if it’s one I must read. Thanks for the review Shelleyrae.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: February 2013 Roundup: Contemporary Fiction | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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