Review: Welcome to Nowhere River by Meg Bignell


Title: Welcome To Nowhere River

Author: Meg Bignell

Published: 2nd March 2021, Michael Joseph

Status: Read March 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

Centred on the small (fictional) town of Nowhere River in the Tasmanian Highlands, Welcome to Nowhere River is a charming novel from Meg Bignell about family, friendship and community.

In a bid to revive the standards of the Nowhere River township, affected by drought and a dwindling population, the imperious president of the St Margery’s Ladies’ Club announces a contest. The member who conceives of, and develops the most effective idea to revitalise the riverside village (while upholding a standard of decorum) will be crowned Miss Fresh & Lovely, and win $100,000. With such high stakes, the competition has no shortage of entrants and soon the community is a hive of activity as plans are put into action.

“Everyone knows everyone, but no one knows anyone at all.”

Among the residents vying for the crown are three women who are central to the novel – Carra, her mother-in-law Lucie, and local farmer, Josie. Each have their own reasons for entering the competition, but all are distracted by personal issues. Carra, married to Nowhere River’s local golden boy, Duncan, and the mother of infant twins, is overwhelmed and unhappy. Lucie’s grief for her young daughter who went missing in Nowhere River decades before, resurfaces; and the viability of Josie’s family farm, already struggling due to drought, is further threatened. I enjoyed getting to know these well crafted characters, I empathised with their challenges, and wished the best for them all.

Welcome To Nowhere River also has a lively raft of supporting characters, including eccentrics like the elderly Cliffity, who collects gnomes and ferrets, and the grumpy grocery store owners, the Pfaff’s. I delighted in getting to know the members of this community, aided by snippets from Lucie’s Miss Fresh & Lovely project interviews with a dozen or so residents. Fair warning, there a few with a mouth on them, but mostly they should make you laugh with their very Australian turn of phrases. Living in a country town myself (beside a river no less) I found the dynamics of the community familiar, especially in regards to the importance of the Show to the town, and in what is a rather extraordinary coincidence, (MINOR SPOILER) this week (March 2021) my town was ravaged by flood, just as Nowhere River is.

“It always amazes me…how there are no secrets in this town, but so many mysteries.”

While Welcome To Nowhere River is largely a character-driven story, there is a thread of poignant mystery in relation to the fate of Lucie’s missing daughter. There are also some twists as the story unfolds, and some surprises in the epilogue.

Written with warmth and humour, celebrating character and community spirit, I found Welcome to Nowhere River to be a delightful read, much as I did Meg Bignell’s debut novel, The Sparkle Pages. I’m already looking forward to her next.

+++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia 

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

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen Murdoch
    Mar 26, 2021 @ 10:26:14

    This sounds like a charming novel. I like the idea of a town’s competition bringing the characters together.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Izabel Brekilien
    Mar 28, 2021 @ 03:26:34

    Lovely review, Shelleyrae 🙂

    Like

    Reply

  3. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  4. 1girl2manybooks
    Mar 31, 2021 @ 17:28:26

    Ooh, happy to see you enjoyed this one! It’s on my pile for the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out

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