Review: The Fine Colour of Rust by Paddy O’Reilly

Title: The Fine Colour of Rust

Author: P.A. O’Reilly

Published: Harper Collins Australia Feb 2012

Synopsis: Single mother and dreamer Loretta Boskovic lives in Gunapan, a town lost in the scrubby Australian bush. She has fantasies about dumping her two kids in the orphanage and riding off on a Harley with her dream lover. Her best pal is a crusty old junk man called Norm. She needs a lawnmower; he gives her two goats called Terror and Panic.
Loretta’s a self-dubbed ‘old scrag’, but she’s got a big heart and a strong sense of injustice. So when the government threatens to close down Gunapan’s primary school, and there’s a whiff of corruption wafting through the corridors of the local council, Loretta stirs into action. She may be short of money, influence and a fully functioning car, but she has loyal friends. Together they can organise protests, supermarket sausage sizzles, a tour of the abattoir — whatever it takes to hold on to the scrap of world that is home.

Status: Read from January 26 to 28, 2012 — I own a copy  {Courtesy Harper Collins Australia/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

Left behind in Gunapan by her lousy husband with her two children, Loretta Boskovic drives the dusty road from her house to town, staring out at the scrubby bushland dreaming of rescue by a handsome lover and a car radio that gets something other than racing commentary. In this unique, wryly observed novel, Paddy O’Reilly captures the essence of a lonely Australian bush town and it’s ordinary residents with humour and heart.
The author’s protagonist is a woman you will find in any small town, she is a single mother juggling child raising with work, a budget that only allows for discounted undies and a longing for an intimate relationship. Loretta copes with the spareness of her life with a wicked sense of humour, and roll-up-your-sleeves and get-on-with-it attitude. Her children are everything to her, even though she regularly fantasises about being whisked away from their whining demands. Raising her two children on her own isn’t easy, they miss their father and his sudden (though mercifully brief) reappearance seems to trigger their worst instincts leaving Loretta floundering.

In an unconscious effort to stave off her loneliness, Loretta rallies the community in an effort to stop the closure of their school and when that is accomplished, finds a new cause involving a shady development deal and corruption Councillors. In a small town like Gunapan the community is the lifeblood of the town and depends on its’ residents to fight for it to stay alive. Loretta isn’t completely alone, her neighbour, Norm – a laconic and slightly eccentric collector – is her dearest friend and champion. Her best friend is also a single woman on the prowl and in a community like Gunupan everyone knows everyone else.
Small urban towns rarely get much attention in fiction with the dazzling Sydney Harbour or wild, romantic outback providing more popular and scenic backdrops. It is rare to find Australian novels with a vivid sense of such a place but O’Reilly evokes this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, slowly dying as services and amenities disappear. Public swimming pools are drained and sports fields are unplayable thanks to the extended drought and the youth grow up and leave for greener pastures.

Loretta’s every day life in an ordinary town makes for a surprisingly compelling story. The Fine Colour of Rust is a character driven novel that also addresses a variety of themes such as social injustice and inequality within a subtly layered plot. It will make you laugh and cry and is a fine example of contemporary Australian fiction that captures the essence of who we are, and who we want to be.

I am thrilled to be hosting a guest post by Paddy O’Reilly at Book’d Out, read it HERE. Make sure you visit! In the meantime listen to her talk about The Fine Colour of Rust in the short video below.

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Available to Purchase

Australia: @ BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

International: @ Amazon US I @ Amazon UK@ BookDepository

Alternate Cover

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 07:10:13

    I love the sound of this story and this character! Even though I’ve never been to Australia, I could immediately feel connected to this single mother and her plight, as well as her causes. I’m adding this one to my list!

    Like

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 24, 2012 @ 12:05:22

      The best news in Laurel it is also being published in the US and UK so it will be easy to find!

      Like

      Reply

  2. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 11:32:52

    Oh, I love the sound of this, Shelleyrae! I was hooked by the blurb, and your review has definitely convinced me to pick up a copy. (I’m a sucker for small town settings!)

    Like

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  3. oanh
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 15:30:53

    This sounds excellent!

    But I’m curious about your comment, “It is rare to find Australian novels with a vivid sense of place…”: I find the complete opposite! Our Australian writers always seem so grounded in location and in attempting to evoke landscapes and the impact of the environment on characters’ behaviour.

    In any event, this is being added to me TBR list 🙂

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 24, 2012 @ 16:53:57

      I remember reading an article, though it was years ago now, where a publisher admitted they toned down Australian settings, in the hopes of appealing to the international publishing market, unless the focus was an iconic, stereotypical landscape – like the outback. I find it is often an all or nothing type of thing – very Australian with red dust and kangaroos or oddly generic cities and suburbs, so perhaps I need to amend my statement to be more specific.

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  4. Jenny Schwartz (@Jenny_Schwartz)
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 16:58:45

    This sounds wonderful. You know, you’re killing my book budget, ShelleyRae 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  5. parrish
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 21:40:29

    this is intriguing, like the idea, but don’t know if I’ll get around to getting it, maybe one for the kindle, for when there’s a spare moment?

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    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:08:17

      I’m not sure it would be your type of read Parrish but I guess you never know til you try 🙂

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      Reply

  6. Nikki-ann
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:04:07

    Sounds interesting! Funnily enough, I’ve just read an Australian novel myself (Bereft by Chris Womersley and would definitely recommened it, if you haven’t already read it).

    Like

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  7. Trackback: AWW Feature: How To Speak In A Book by Paddy O’Reilly « book'd out
  8. Trackback: Some reviews » Paddy O'Reilly
  9. Teddyree
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 23:14:07

    Fabulous review, thanks for highlighting this one, I probably would have overlooked it and missed out on something special.

    Like

    Reply

  10. Michelle ~ Book to the Future
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 22:13:28

    Ooh, lovely review! This looks great. I’ll definitely be adding this to my AWW review pile when I can find a copy…

    Like

    Reply

  11. Trackback: Some reviews from book bloggers and readers » Paddy O'Reilly
  12. Trackback: Great Aussie Reviews » Blog Archive » The Fine Colour of Rust by P.A. O’Reilly (Reviewed by Shelleyrae)
  13. Trackback: ‘Stella!!’ – AWW tops 1000 reviews « Australian Women Writers Challenge
  14. Julie @ Knitting and Sundries
    Sep 04, 2012 @ 01:51:25

    I want this one … I followed a link from The Eclectic Reader’s review to yours. It’s on my to-buy list as we speak!

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  15. Trackback: Review: The Fine Colour of Rust | Giraffe Days
  16. Trackback: ‘Stella!!’ – AWW tops 1000 reviews | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog
  17. Trackback: 2012 releases reviewed for AWW: What’s in a genre? | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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