Review: Feral Bells by Peta Jo

Title: Feral Bells

Author: Peta-Jo

Published: 2011

Synopsis: Lydia Vermont’s life isn’t all that complicated. Work hard, have a nice apartment and don’t end up back in Townsville – rules that have served her well. That is until her sister, newly wed, pregnant and on the fast track to divorce, moves in. Now family obligations, interfering friends and a disastrous one-night stand have Lydia in a spin. Is this the life she really wants? It’s only after tragedy strikes, Lydia realises the rules no longer apply and she must come to grips with new boundaries and new possibilities.

Status: Read from November 09 to 10, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

With humour and heart, Feral Bells (formerly title Wedding Etiquette for Ferals), explores the complications of family, ambition and falling in love.

Feral Bells is written primarily in the third person from the perspective of twenty something Lydia Vermont, alternating with the first person point of view of Chris Taylor. While Lydia was thrilled to escape provincial Townsville for the bright lights of Queensland’s capital city, Chris is eager to finally be returning to his family’s farm after three long years of study. Their paths initially cross in the most unusual of ways and from then, the pair seem to be on an inevitable collision course, but reconciling their dreams appears to be an impossible task.

Lydia certainly wasn’t looking for love. Apart from a lousy boss or two, she has her dream job and takes pride in her modern city apartment far from the Townsville population of ‘ferals’. It’s not until her newlywed, and pregnant, younger sister leaves her cheating husband on her wedding night and comes to stay, that she starts to wonder if her busy, sophisticated city life is all she dreamed of.
And when tragedy strikes, Lydia is forced to reassess her priorities.

On the verge of returning to the family farm on the outskirts of Townsville in Charters Towers to take over for his father, Chris is bemused by yet another elfin beauty fleeing his roommate’s questionable hygiene the morning after. Just a few day later he is shocked to discover the mystery woman is partnered with him in his sister’s wedding. Her taste in men should be enough to frighten him away, but his attraction doesn’t seem to be ruled by logic.

Feral Bells is a character driven novel and Peta Jo’s has created strong, well rounded leads, supported by minor characters who have their own personalities. The author retains the distinct rhythm of Australian speech and its regional accents, demonstrating a talented ear for dialogue. I thought there were a couple of plot dead ends, such as the surprise appearance of Lydia’s father, but overall the story pieced together nicely and I appreciated the epilogue to tie up the loose ends.

While I want to avoid spoilers, I have to mention that Peta Jo approaches a particularly sensitive subject within the storyline with a genuine appreciation for the trauma surrounding it. Having been through the experience more than once I felt that the author treated the matter with the respect it deserves, but rarely gets, in either fiction or real life.

A satisfying fiction debut from a fledgling Australian author to watch, Feral Bells is an engaging novel of romance, drama and humor, touching on several relevant contemporary issues.

For your chance to WIN a copy of Feral Bells, click here to read Peta-Jo’s guest post

Available to Purchase

@ Bermingham Books

Read an Excerpt


Feral Bells by Peta Jo

 “In taking leave of a group of strangers – it makes no difference whether you have been introduced to them or merely included in their conversation – you bow “good-bye” to any who happen to be looking at you, but you do not attempt to attract the attention of those who are unaware that you are turning away.” – Emily Post, 1922.

FRAGMENTS of Lydia’s evening came filtering through like starbursts. She met her friend Kathleen for drinks after work to decompress. What had started out as a momentous day in her fledgling career became another exhausting attempt to get along with her supervisor.

But Kathleen had her own news. Big news. She was drinking a mocktail, she had pointed out ever-so innocently, and this meant two things: one, she was pregnant, and two, all that irritating, carefree vivacity of hers would evaporate into a self-absorbed, baby-talking zombie, the likes of which Lydia had nothing in common, let alone time to indulge.

Laying still, Lydia was at least relieved to recall that she’d had the decency to congratulate Kathleen before drinking herself into a legless, self-pitying stupor.

As the cognitive wheels turned, Lydia realised just how many glasses of alcohol had met her lips last night.

She remembered sculling a drink in cahoots with a bar-fly stranger, insisting he drink with her in the absence of Kathleen’s voracity. Wine had sloshed beside her laughing mouth, down her chin and over the most expensive item from her wardrobe, a DKNY set.  Recalling her disregard for the large, wet stain it had left, Lydia knew she’d been a mess last night… and had she really been wearing an Akubra?!

Larger shards of memory pierced Lydia’s slumber. She stirred and frowned at herself. Shrouding lights reflecting off a shot-glass and a burning sensation deep in her chest. She couldn’t remember Kathleen being there, couldn’t remember anybody’s actual face, though she was certainly surrounded by a group of people.

Another panel of clarity, revealing flannel, a heavy scent of pine aftershave and beer brought Lydia to the fore.

Beard rash on her face and the recollection of being hauled off the dance floor dared Lydia to open her eyes once and for all.

Hesitantly, she took in a roof with beige paint coming off in large bubbles. This was not her bedroom.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marcia Bezuidenhout
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 19:34:45

    Wow, thanks so much Shelleyrae – I can’t believe I won Feral Bells. Thank you so much for hosting the competition. I am so excited.



  2. Trackback: AWW Feature: Peta Jo and The Crushing Season | book'd out

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