Review: A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe

Title: A Home Like Ours

Author: Fiona Lowe

Published: 3rd March 2021, HQ Fiction

Status: Read March 2021, courtesy Harlequin Australia /Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

“Life was an unpredictable lottery. But surrounded by a community and a garden, the future was easier to face.”

An insightful, warm and engaging story, A Home Like Ours is another fabulous novel from award winning Australian author Fiona Lowe.

When Helen arrived in the small town of Boolanga in rural Victoria three years ago, she had been living in her car, searching for work, and a place to call home. Now, having secured a position as a caretaker of the town’s community garden which provides her with a small cottage, her new found stability is threatened when she insists a local group of refugee women be provided with plots.

Jade is a young mother with no family to speak of and a deadbeat, often absent, partner. To supplement her meagre pension, and provide her baby son with organic produce, she reluctantly agrees to assist Helen in the community garden. Though initially distrustful of everyone, especially the refugees, Jade slowly discovers a place she could belong.

Tara doesn’t understand why her husband, hardware store owner, Jon, seems to have lost interest in her. Wrapped up in her own self-pity, she is stunned when he is diagnosed with a debilitating condition, and is forced to consider what community really means.

The central theme of A Home Like Ours focuses on the effects of displacement. Like the protagonists of Lowe’s story, almost all of us are vulnerable to events such as illness, injury, relationship breakdown, unemployment, unplanned pregnancy, as well as extreme situations like war, which could result in a complete change of circumstance.

To face these sorts of unexpected challenges requires the support of a community – of family, of friends, and often even strangers. Lowe’s decision to centre the story on the town’s community garden is a clever one. Not only is it a site that allows her to reflect the population of the town at large, but it’s also a setting in which her very different characters can plausibly meet.

Portrayed with a realistic complexity, I really liked Lowe’s characters and found their stories to be engaging. It’s impressive that she is able to credibly depict women who are of widely disparate ages and backgrounds, and have diverse concerns. I would have liked for Fiza, a Sudanese refugee, to have had a larger role in the story, though I can understand why Lowe likely shied away from doing so.

Lowe also explores a range of specific issues relevant in Australia at the moment including racist attitudes towards refugees from African countries, the rise of homelessness experienced by women over 55, the inadequacy of current social support payments, the lack of support programs in rural areas, and government corruption. It seems like a lot, but these issues overlap and intertwine, enriching the story, and informing the reader.

I barely noticed that A Home Like Ours was almost 600 pages long, engrossed in the well-paced story I finished it in a day. This is an wonderful read that encourages empathy, compassion and community.

++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. denisenewton1960
    Mar 04, 2021 @ 10:11:05

    Great review, this sounds like a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Helen Murdoch
    Mar 04, 2021 @ 10:30:50

    This sounds like a lovely read! I like the idea of the community coming together over a shared garden and the tensions it can create.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Jennifer
    Mar 04, 2021 @ 12:16:57

    I agree, Shelleyrae. This is a magnificent read.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. Kathryn
    Mar 04, 2021 @ 16:28:36

    My top read of February. She is such a good writer I didn’t notice the page count either. I still want to visit them all!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. sandysbookaday
    Mar 04, 2021 @ 18:19:42

    Lovely review Shelleyrae. I have just started this. ❤📚

    Like

    Reply

  6. Davida Chazan
    Mar 05, 2021 @ 01:33:25

    Well, this does sound interesting. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Mar @ BOOVIVERSE & ESSENTIAL MATTER
    Mar 05, 2021 @ 08:11:02

    refugees stories are usually very powerful. Not surprised you loved it! I’ll check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. 1girl2manybooks
    Mar 05, 2021 @ 08:52:20

    Haha this one is on MY schedule for probably next week! I’m glad that you didn’t notice the size because it is quite chunky

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. Liz Dexter
    Mar 06, 2021 @ 01:58:46

    This sounds like an excellent read, I’m going to have a look for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  11. Laurel-Rain Snow
    Mar 08, 2021 @ 01:52:08

    Great review! I have been eyeing this one. I couldn’t find it on Amazon, except in audio or an expensive paperback version. Sigh.

    Like

    Reply

  12. thebookishlibra
    Mar 09, 2021 @ 11:12:41

    I love it when a book is so well-paced you don’t even realize how long it really this. This sounds like a beautiful story and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. Trackback: Diversity Round Up: February/March 2021 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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