Review: Charlotte’s Creek by Therese Creed

 

Title: Charlotte’s Creek

Author: Therese Creed

Published: Allen & Unwin May 2014

Status: Read from May 13 to 15, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Feeling stifled and restless in her teaching position at a privileged private school, Lucia Francis quits and impulsively accepts a position as a governess on a remote property in North Queensland. Arriving at Charlotte’s Creek, Lucy is met by the brusque Dennis, sharp tongued Melissa and four rambunctious children more interested in being seated on a horse than in a classroom. Though feeling overwhelmed, Lucy is nevertheless determined to rise to the challenge and slowly earns the respect of the West Family and their enigmatic ringer, Ted, as she wrangles the kids and pitches in around the house and farm. Despite the hard work and isolation, Lucy begins to fall in love with Charlotte’s Creek, and its residents, but when tragedy strikes and Lucy is forced to return to the city, she wonders is she will ever be able to call it home again.

Therese Creed writes from experience. She married a farmer and lives and works on the family’s 17,000 acre cattle station in central Queensland. I appreciate that the author doesn’t romanticise the hard work it takes to run a property, Dennis and Ted spend long days mustering, mending fences, caring for livestock and performing general maintenance. Mel, despite being pregnant for much of the novel, has not only the household chores, cooking and the children to attend to, but is also responsible for managing the finances and farm resources, and is required to pitch as and where needed on the property. The children, even four year old twins Molly and Wade, are also expected to help out with tasks city kids couldn’t imagine.

I really admired Lucy’s have-a-go attitude, despite her lack of experience and knowledge she is eager to learn and help where needed even if it means facing down White Trash to collect the eggs, learning to drive a manual car from 11 year old Connor and taking riding instruction on a Clydesdale. Lucy also proves to be a patient teacher and loyal friend. I did feel she was perhaps a touch too naive at times, even given her coddled city background, not only in relation to the realities of farm life but also in her interactions with Adam and Ted.

Creed briefly explores some relevant and topical concerns related to farming in Charlotte’s Creek including coal seam mining, foreign investment, and natural hazards like fire and drought. Succession though is the major issue in Charlotte’s Creek, despite the hard work Dennis and Mel have put into the property, it belongs to Dennis’s parents and they are reluctant to relinquish control. I thought this subject was explored very well.

I do think the book is a little over long, though the daily activity on the station is interesting, it does become somewhat repetitive. One major story arc which I was interested in ends without much fanfare midway through the book, and the chaste relationship between Lucy and Ted doesn’t seem to be going anywhere until the last few chapters.

Charlotte’s Creek is the second novel by Therese Creed, and as in Redstone Station, I thought it well written with natural dialogue. The characters are particularly appealing and well developed, the setting is vividly drawn, and despite weaknesses in the plot, overall it is an enjoyable read.

 

 

Charlotte’s Creek  is Available to Purchase from

Allen & Unwin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU I Amazon US

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