Review: The Cedar Tree by Nicole Alexander

Title: The Cedar Tree

Author: Nicole Alexander

Published: March 2020, Bantam

Read: March 2020 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Au

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Cedar Tree is a compelling generational saga by Nicole Alexander.

“She supposed that all of them were branded, in some way. By parents and lovers, siblings and friends, even husbands and wives. And some cuts went far deeper than others.”

In 1864 cousins, Brandon and Sean O’Riain, are accused of murder and, forced to flee Ireland or be hanged, they emigrate to Australia. There they find work as cedar cutters in Richmond Valley, northern NSW, but while Brandon looks towards the future, Sean can’t let go of the past.

In 1949, Stella O’Riain, recently widowed, arrives at her brother-in- law’s cane sugar farm in the Richmond Valley where she has agreed to care for his injured wife in return for bed and board. Here, Stella hopes to find answers that will explain her husband’s obsession with their former home, Kirooma Station in the far west of NSW, that ultimately lead to his death.

Exploring the themes of family, duty, faith, and freedom, the narrative of The Cedar Tree unfolds primarily from the perspectives of Brandon O’Riain and Stella O’Riain, alternating between timelines until it reaches the point the two characters intersect.

I was quickly caught up in the conflicts between the O’Riain cousins as Brandon’s repeated attempts to protect his cousin from Sean’s own selfish and reckless behaviour backfires, eventually leading to an accident that results in a deep rift between them. Unwilling to accept responsibility for his own actions, Sean nurtures a grudge so strong it blights the lives of his sons, Harry and Joe.

I found Stella to be a sympathetic character as a naive young woman who finds herself out of her depth on an isolated property with an inattentive husband. His death, and the death of her child, leaves her desperate to understand the choices Joe O’Riain made, but for which his estranged brother, Harry, purports to have no answers. As the two timelines converge however Stella finally learns some of the secrets that provides her with explanation she craves, and reveals her own.

With a strong sense of place, interesting historical detail, and compelling characterisation, The Cedar Tree is a well-written, absorbing tale sure to engage and entertain.

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Read an Extract

Also by Nicole Alexander on Book’d Out

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Claire Louisa
    Mar 16, 2020 @ 14:32:51

    I’m a big fan of Nicole Alexander, this is on my wishlist.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  3. Marg
    Mar 16, 2020 @ 19:35:48

    I have never read Nicole Alexander. I probably should!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Davida Chazan
    Mar 29, 2020 @ 01:47:57

    Never read this author. Thanks for the review.

    Like

    Reply

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