Review: Sunset Ridge by Nicole Alexander

Title: Sunset Ridge

Author: Nicole Alexander

Published: Random House Au September 2013

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Status: Read from September 09 to 11, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Moving between South East Queensland and the First World War battlefields of France, Sunset Ridge is an epic tale of family, love and war. Nominated as one of ’50 Book’s You Can’t Put Down’ by Australia’s nationwide Get Reading program for 2013, it is a compelling novel, well deserving of the recognition.

At the urging of her mother, Jude, art historian Madeleine Harrow-Boyne has agreed to consider the feasibility of a retrospective art exhibition to feature her grandfather’s landscapes, but to tempt a gallery to sponsor the project Madeleine needs to learn more about David Harrow, who died before she was born. Hoping to discover something of interest, Madeleine returns to the family property, Sunset Ridge, in South East Queensland, currently managed by her brother, where her grandfather was born and raised. It is there that Madeleine stumbles upon the remarkable legacy David Harrow left behind, one that extends beyond his art, and the boundary of Sunset Ridge.

I was fortunate to meet Nicole Alexander at an author event recently and learnt that Sunset Creek was inspired by her own grandfather’s life. Alexander is a fourth generation grazier in north west NSW where her fami

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ly farm cattle, sheep and crops. Sunset Creek is, at least in part, modeled on her family property and the author has drawn on her family’s stories to lend authenticity to her setting and characters.

David Harrow is the youngest of three brothers, heirs to Sunset Ridge. It is 1916 and Thaddeus and Luther are growing restless under the thumb of their tyrannical father. When G.W. pushes his sons too far they escape, enlist in the army and are sent to France to fight in the Great War.

For details of life at the Front, Alexander had access to wartime correspondence and news clippings kept by her family, supplemented by meticulous research. Alexander’s descriptions of life in the trenches in Verdun and Somme are harrowing and vivid. She beautifully captures the experiences of David and his comrades, the poignant mix of heroic spirit and abject terror found on the battlefields, tales of bravery, sacrifice and tragedy.

In France, Alexander forges the link between David and the Chessy family. Madame Marie has reluctantly seen her twin sons, Antoine and Francois, accompanied by their pet dog, Roland, off to fight, having already lost her husband to the war. Her small farm is often used by allied forces to provide respite to its soldiers and it is here, Madeleine will eventually learn, part of David’s legacy rests.

A stunning Australian saga told by a consummate storyteller, Sunset Ridge is an absorbing read and one I won’t hesitate to recommended.

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sue Legg
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 20:40:09

    Residing overseas it is difficult to keep up with the number of brilliant Australian authors and their writings considering I really only have access to Amazon, so hopefully this will be another avenue to keeping in touch. I look forward to reading Nicole’s latest epic and from the above article it sounds excellent. Thanks very much from an Aussie miles away from home.

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  2. Jenn J McLeod | House for all Seasons
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 23:37:26

    Great review. i loved Sunset Ridge and was lucky enough to chat over dinner with Nicole in Coffs last week. She is just as passionate a presenter as she is a writer!

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  3. 1girl2manybooks
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:45:20

    I wanted to try this one but I just couldn’t fit it in! Maybe down the track a little bit

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  4. Teddyree
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 12:57:38

    Fantastic review Shelleyrae, I’m adding it to my must read list. Is it a stand-a-lone novel or is Absolution Creek loosely linked?

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  5. Trackback: Nicole Alexander – Sunset Ridge | Vigour Graphics
  6. Nicole Alexander
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 19:12:42

    Thanks Shellyrae for the great review lovely meeting you in person. N

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  7. Trackback: August/September 2013 Round up: Historical Fiction | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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