Title: The Outback Heart
Author: Fiona Palmer
Published: Penguin Au September 2013
Status: Read from September 02 to October 02, 2013 — I own a copy
The Outback Heart is Fiona Palmer’s fifth novel, a heartfelt story of loss, life and love in rural Western Australia.
Indianna ‘Indi’ Wilson loves her small outback town and is determined to ensure Hyden not only survives, but thrives. She is sure rebuilding the local Saints football team will unite the community, if only they can get off the bottom of the ladder. Troy ‘Yoda’ Mitchell has a reputation for turning teams around and Indi is thrilled when he agrees to move to Hyden and do what he can for the club. As training begins, Troy quickly proves to be not only the coach the team needs, but the man Indi wants.
Footy is such a ubiquitous Australian sport (the same way that baseball is in the US and soccer in Europe) and I found I really enjoyed the role it played within this novel. A year ago I would probably not have found the focus on the game (AFL to be particular) at all interesting but both my sons started with Auskick this year and their enthusiasm for the sport has naturally involved us.
You don’t need to be a footy fan to enjoy The Outback Heart however, the appealing characters and heartfelt story are sure to engage you. I liked Indi for her enthusiasm, her spirited attitude and her admirable commitment to her family and her community. Having lost her mother two years previously to breast cancer, Indi has stepped into her shoes, caring for her father and brother and supporting various committees and organisations like the CWA, despite a full time job driving grain trucks, but football is her passion and she relishes her role as assistant coach/strapper/cheerleader.
Troy is somewhat of an enigma. While he genuinely enjoys coaching AFL it is also a cutting reminder of all he has lost. Having convinced himself he is better off alone, Indi’s overt interest in him is unnerving and as the novel unfolds we learn why he is so reluctant to admit that he is attracted to her. I think the author handled Troy’s dilemma well, his motivation is credible and Troy evokes both sympathy and admiration in the reader.
The Outback Heart is moving and engaging story, told with warmth and humour. I was particularly touched to learn that the story was inspired by the life, and death, of a young man in the author’s community, to whom she pays tribute at the end of the book.
Part of the proceeds of this book are being donated to Transplant Australia and I implore you to visit and register at http://www.donatelife.gov.au/.
Available to Purchase From
Also available from Fiona Palmer