Review: The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth

 

Title: The Blue Rose

Author: Kate Forsyth

Published: July 16th 2019, Vintage

Status: Read July 2019 courtesy Penguin AU

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

The Blue Rose is an enthralling tale of love, betrayal, peril, and adventure, set against the turmoil of the French Revolution, and the inscrutable Empire of China.

After disgracing her father, Marquis de Ravoisier, at the court of Versailles, Viviane de Faitaud is exiled to her late mother’s estate, the Chateau de Belisama-sur-le-Lac in Brittany, where she spent her childhood. Though meant as a punishment, Viviane is happy in Belisama, far from her father’s cruel attentions, and able to regularly escape the notice of her chaperone.

While the estate is barely viable after years of the Marquis’s mismanagement and neglect, when Viviane’s father remarries, he decrees that an extravagant garden shall be created to honour his new bride and hires an ambitious young Welshman to design and oversee it’s construction. David Stronach hopes that the commission will launch his career among the French nobility, allowing him to support his family, and throws himself into the project, but he soon finds himself distracted by the beauty and grace of Viviane.

Despite the impossibility of the match, Viviane and David fall in love, but when the Marquis discovers their romance, David barely escapes the chateau with his life, and Viviane is given no choice but to marry a rich Duke more than twice her age. Believing her lover dead, Vivienne returns to the palace of Louis XVI, just as the revolution begins to gather momentum, while David, believing himself betrayed, joins a British diplomatic mission to Imperial China at the behest of Sir Joseph Banks.

Forsyth deftly illustrates the decadence of life at the court of Versailles under the reign of Louis XVI, and the extraordinary evolution of the French Revolution. After the death of her hated husband during riots in Paris, Vivane serves as a lady in waiting to Marie-Antoinette and stays with the beleaguered royal family as their rule falters. Seen through Viviane’s eyes, the French royal family, especially the much maligned Marie-Antoinette, become humanised as they face the situation with bewilderment, grief, and growing horror. The author’s recounting of the astonishing historical events that defined the Revolution, from the demands of the Third Estate, to the storming of Bastille, and finally to the wholesale imprisonment and gruesome beheadings of the country’s aristocracy, is utterly engrossing.

David’s journey was inspired by the author’s discovery of a diplomatic mission led by Lord Macartney at the behest of King George III to request the Chinese Emperor open trade with Britain, during which a member of the party gathered botanicals and shipped them to Sir Joseph Banks. This trip fits neatly into the timeline of the story, and ties beautifully into David’s desire to obtain a blood-red rose, unavailable in Europe at the time. I found David’s expedition by sea, and his impressions of Imperial China, interesting.

As with much of Forsyth’s recent work, The Blue Rose also takes some inspiration from traditional lore, in this instance a version of The Blue Rose, a Chinese folk tale. It is a romantic story that ties beautifully into David’s quest, and his relationship with Vivane.

An enchanting, captivating novel, with a plausible, seamless narrative which melds compelling historical fact, with vividly imagined fiction, The Blue Rose is another spectacular story from Kate Forsyth.

Read an Excerpt

++++++

Available from Penguin Au

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

******

Also by Kate Forsyth reviewed at Book’d Out

 

 

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

 

Life…

 

So Netflix Australia added Seasons 1-10 of The Big Bang Theory last week, guess what we’ve been doing…it even lured my kids from their bedrooms (after midday of course – it is the school holidays), turning the bingewatch into a family event, which happily didn’t require us to leave the house, or spend money… I call that a win!

Sigh, I will miss this show!

——————————————-

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

 

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth

 

———————————————

New Posts

 

Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Review: The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl

Review: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Review: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

Weekend Cooking: Cozy Culinary Mysteries

 

———————————————

What I’m Reading This Week

Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes. Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.

Because, after all, it’s her funeral…

The perfect antidote to all books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley’s Bridesmaids, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Good Place.

+++++++

 

Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Survivors.

1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.

Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolises her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive. 

But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.

Eloïse finds her hometown in a state of unrest and conflict. Those who are angry at the construction of the American airbase nearby, with its lethal nuclear armaments, confront those who support it, and anger flares into violence, stirred up by Soviet agents. Throughout all this unrest, Eloïse is still relentlessly hunting down the man who betrayed her brother and his country, and she is learning to look at those she loves and at herself with different eyes. She no longer knows who she can trust. Who is working for Soviet Intelligence and who is not? And what side do her own family lie on?

++++++

 

 

It’s the summer of 1982. The Man from Snowy River is a box office hit and Paul Hogan is on the TV.

In a seaside suburb of NSW, housewife Theresa Howard takes up swimming. She wants to get fit; she also wants a few precious minutes to herself. So at sunrise each day she strikes out past the waves.

From the same beach, the widowed Marie swims. With her husband gone, bathing is the one constant in her new life.

After finding herself in a desperate situation, 26-year-old Leanne only has herself to rely on. She became a nurse to help others, even as she resists help herself.

Elaine has recently moved from England. Far from home without her adult sons, her closest friend is a gin bottle.

In the waters of Shelly Bay, these four women find each other. They will survive shark sightings, bluebottle stings and heartbreak; they will laugh so hard they swallow water, and they will plunge their tears into the ocean’s salt. They will find solace and companionship in their friendship circle, and learn that love takes many forms.

———————————————

Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Cooking: Cozy Culinary Mysteries

 

One of my guilty reading pleasures has always been cozy mysteries.

Cozy mysteries series are generally themed, and culinary/food themes are some of the most popular. Many of the books in a series include recipes, and whether you favour chocolate or chilli, dinner or dessert, you can find something tasty that will appeal.

Below are the covers of the first book in a variety of series, click to learn more.

 

 

Feel free to share your own favourite cozy mystery in the comments.

 

 

Review: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

Title: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted

Author: Robert Hillman

Published: July 11th 2019, Faber & Faber

Status: Read July 2019, courtesy Faber & Faber/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is a literary novel from award winning Australian author, Robert Hillman.

In the Spring of 1968, as Tom Hope toils away on his farm, lonely after his wife has deserted him and taken her son with her, Hannah Babel arrives in rural Victoria intending to open a bookshop, and offer piano and flute lessons.

The farming community of Hometown seems an unlikely place for a woman like Hannah, a Jew who barely survived the horrors of Auschwitz and it’s aftermath, to settle, and in which to establish a bookshop with a goal to sell twenty five thousand books,in honour of her father, who died in an internment camp.

“She took an oblong of stiff paper, craft paper, the colour of parchment, sat at the counter and wrote a single line of neat Hebrew script with black ink and a steel-nibbed pen….And so Hannah’s first choice of a name for her business remained known only to her: Bookshop of the broken hearted.”

Hannah, and Tom, who responds to Hannah’s request for help hang a sign, become an unlikely couple. Hannah’s effusive persona contrasts with Tom’s taciturn nature, and the age difference (Hannah is more than a decade older) worries some of the townsfolk, especially those who know how much Tom misses his wife’s son, Peter. Tom however finds Hannah beguiling, if a bit mad, and is quietly thrilled that such an interesting woman seems to be so interested in him.

“He felt like a great block of stone talking to her, but she was interested in him, that’s what it felt like. He had never before in his life been made to feel interesting.”

This is much more than a love story though, one of the major themes Hillman explores is that of suffering. Hannah’s suffering during the Holocaust, including the loss of her husband and son; Tom’s suffering after the loss of Peter; and Peter’s suffering at the hands of his mother and the leaders of the ‘Jesus Camp’.

“Tom didn’t think of himself as observant, astute. He didn’t notice things. He more failed to notice. But when he pictured Mrs Babel’s—sorry, Hannah’s—face, as he did now, her eyes, her green eyes, he grasped that she was suffering. That huge smile, all of her teeth on show, one at the side a bit discoloured; but she was suffering. He had suffered. In the same way? He didn’t know.”

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is a languid, poignant story about loss, heartbreak, survival, hope and redemption.

++++++

Available from Faber & Faber

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

 

Title: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: A Definitive How To Guide

Author: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Published: May 28th 2019, Forge Books

Status: Read July 2019

++++++

My Thoughts:

I’m a recent ‘Murderino’, which marks me as an avid listener of Karen and Georgia’s true crime/comedy podcast, My Favorite Murder. If you are not familiar with this weekly broadcast, Kilgariff and Hardstark each select a single murder, true crime story, or survivor story to recount and discuss in an empathetic but humorous manner. More recently the podcast has also featured Minisodes – which consist of audience write-ins detailing their near misses, or tangential relationships to murder cases; and broadcasts of their live shows. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered is their signature show sign off.

I probably shouldn’t have bought Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered without reading the description (though I likely would have got it anyway), because it wasn’t what I was expecting.

I wanted something more closely related to the podcast, a mix of true crime stories with reference to their patented advice such as ‘F*ck Politeness’ and ‘You’re in a Cult, Call your Dad’.

Instead this is largely a memoir/selfhelp book detailing the hosts’ dysfunctional childhood/adolescence/young adult years including their issues with addiction, eating disorders, mental health, and relationships.

It’s not that these stories aren’t interesting, or funny, and occasionally relatable (I was a latchkey kid like Karen, and I had a brief flirtation with kleptomania at thirteen like Georgia- a single Mars Bar I still feel guilty about), but stories like Georgia’s ‘red flag’ encounter, and the essay in ‘Stay Out of the Forest’, which includes some information about the murder of Michele Wallace, were probably closest to what I wanted.

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered is really a book for fans of the personalities of Karen and Georgia, those more interested in the true crime aspect of their podcast may be slightly disappointed. I did enjoy it, I just would have appreciated a different approach more.

Read an Extract

++++++

 

Review: The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl

 

Title: The Heart Keeper

Author: Alex Dahl

Published: July 11th 2019, Head of Zeus

Status: July 2019, courtesy HarperCollins/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“Hearts are wild creatures, that’s why our ribs are cages.”

The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl is an intensely emotional story of grief, loss and hope.

Devastated by the accidental drowning death of her beloved six year old daughter, Alison reels brokenly between crippling emotional agony and a drug and alcohol induced stupor, unable to accept her loss. When her stepson raises the theory of cellular memory, which suggests that a transplanted organ retains some of the memories or personality traits of the donor that manifest in the recipient, Alison becomes obsessed with the idea that somewhere Amalie lives on…and she wants her back.

“I envision her heart beating in this moment, sutured in place in a little stranger’s chest. I see fresh, clean blood pumped out and around a young body, carrying miniscule particles of my own child. I stand up and press my face to the window. Out there, somewhere, her heart is beating.”

The narrative of The Heart Keeper moves between the first person perspectives of Alison, and Iselin, whose paths cross when Alison seeks out the recipient of her daughters heart, seven year old Kaia. At first Alison believes just a glimpse of her child’s ‘heart keeper’ will ease the ache, but it’s not enough, and she arranges a meeting with Iselin, ostensibly to commission some artwork, which simply feeds her obsession.

“I couldn’t have grasped, then, that it would grow bigger and sharper every day, that it would rot my heart, that it would devour everything that was once good,…”

Alison’s pain is so viscerally described by Dahl, the intensity is difficult to cope with at times. Her slow unraveling is utterly compelling, and though it’s known from the outset the direction the plot will take, Alison’s journey, her longing for her daughter, is what drives the story.

“You and her, you’re one and the same. I can’t believe I didn’t realize this before, that all of this time, you were right there.”

With richly drawn characters and raw emotive writing The Heart Keeper is an engrossing, poignant and heartrending story about death, and life.

++++++

Available from HarperCollins AU

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Title: The Chain

Author: Adrian McKinty

Published: July 9th 2019, Hachette Australia

Status: July 2019 courtesy BFredricksPR

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“Number one: you are not the first and you will certainly not be the last. Number two: remember, it’s not about the money—it’s about The Chain.”

Adrian McKinty’s The Chain is a riveting thriller with a terrifying premise.

The Chain works like this: your child is kidnapped, and the only thing that will ensure their safe release is the payment of a ransom, and for you to then kidnap a child, whose parents must in turn pay a ransom, and kidnap a child. If you fail to comply, your child will die, if your victim’s parents fail to comply, you must kill their child and choose another target, or your child will die. Attempt to inform law enforcement, or in anyway interrupt The Chain and you and your entire family will be the first to die.

Rachel Klein is not an obvious target for this macabre network. She is newly divorced, recently in remission after treatment for breast cancer, and has very little money. When her thirteen year old daughter, Kylie, is abducted, and Rachel receives the chilling instructions as the newest link in The Chain, she balks, as most right-minded people would. What Rachel is being asked to do is unthinkable, but with the life of her beloved daughter at stake, Rachel realises she has no choice.

The first half of the book is an absolute page turner, I raced through it wondering just how far Rachel was willing to go. McKinty skilfully communicates the fear and desperation experienced by victims of The Chain. When the lives of our children are threatened there is very little a parent won’t do to protect them, and it is exactly that primal instinct that the sociopathic minds behind The Chain exploit.

“Be thankful for our mercy and remember that once you are on The Chain, you are on it forever. You are not the first and you will not be the last. We are watching, we are listening; we can come for you at any time.”

The pace slowed somewhat during the second half as Rachel, and Kylie, struggle with the aftermath of their experience, but it ramps up again as Rachel realises the only way she and her daughter will ever escape The Chain, is to expose the diabolical masterminds behind the scheme.

The Chain is an impressive thriller that will get your heart racing and keep the pages turning. Don’t miss being part of The Chain.

Read an Extract

++++++

Available from your preferred retailer or

Hachette Australia

Mulholland Books US

Book Depository

or your preferred retailer

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

Life…

I really enjoyed attending the Triple M concert midweek, where my middle children sang Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ with their a capella group. The other performers which ranged from rock bands to a very talented clarinet player, were also impressive, and in all it was a great night.

My son is second from the left (his music teacher is next to him), only a sliver of my daughter is  visible on the far right).

I was also very proud to learn my son earned a place in the top five students of his grade at his mid year assembly. My youngest son also came home with good results on his mid year report.

Unfortunately the rest of the week got away from me and between one thing and another, I just barely got my reviews up, and all I managed to read were two books.

School holidays start today for my kids, though as teenagers they sleep til noon and keep themselves amused mostly. We have some vague plans but much will depend on the weather.

And CONGRATULATIONS to Claire Louisa who has won a copy of All That Impossible Space by Anna Morgan courtesy Hachette Australia

I hope you have a great week!

——————————————-

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

The Chain by Andrew McKinty

The Heart Keeper by Alex Dahl

———————————————

New Posts

Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang ★★★1/2

Review: Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern ★★★★

Review: Wild Horses of the Summer Sun by Tory Bilski ★★★

Review: The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis ★★★

Six Degrees of Separation

———————————————

What I’m Reading This Week

 

 

Tom Hope doesn’t chase rainbows. He does his best on the farm – he milks the cows, harvests the apples, looks after the sheep – but Tom’s been lonely since his wife Trudy left, taking little Peter with her to go join the holy rollers.

Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic smalltown bookseller: the second Jew – and the most vivid person – Tom has ever met. When she asks him to move in, and help her build Australia’s most beautiful bookshop, Tom dares to believe they could make each other happy.

But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a battle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.

 

++++++

 

The highly anticipated first book by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the voices behind the #1 hit podcast My Favorite Murder!

Sharing never-before-heard stories ranging from their struggles with depression, eating disorders, and addiction, Karen and Georgia irreverently recount their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.

In Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered, Karen and Georgia focus on the importance of self-advocating and valuing personal safety over being ‘nice’ or ‘helpful.’ They delve into their own pasts, true crime stories, and beyond to discuss meaningful cultural and societal issues with fierce empathy and unapologetic frankness.

 

++++++

 

 

Moving between Imperial China and France during the ‘Terror’ of the French Revolution and inspired by the true story of the quest for a blood-red rose.

Viviane de Faitaud has grown up alone at the Chateau de Belisama-sur-le-Lac in Brittany, for her father, the Marquis de Ravoisier, lives at the court of Louis XVI in Versailles. After a hailstorm destroys the chateau’s orchards, gardens and fields an ambitious young Welshman, David Stronach, accepts the commission to plan the chateau’s new gardens in the hope of making his name as a landscape designer.

David and Viviane fall in love, but it is an impossible romance. Her father has betrothed her to a rich duke who she is forced to marry and David is hunted from the property. Viviane goes to court and becomes a maid-in-waiting to Marie-Antoinette and a member of the extended royal family. Angry and embittered, David sails away from England with Lord Macartney, the British ambassador, who hopes to open up trade with Imperial China.

In Canton, the British embassy at last receives news from home, including their first reports of the French Revolution. David hears the story of ‘The Blue Rose’, a Chinese fable of impossible love, and discovers the blood-red rose growing in the wintry garden. He realises that he is still in love with Viviane and must find her.

Viviane escapes the guillotine and returns to the ruin of Chateau de Belisima to rebuild her life. David carrying a cluster of rosehips finds her there, and together they decide to grow the fabled red rose of China in France.

++++++

What if the love of your life forgot who you were?

When outback midwife Ava May meets Zac on a flight to Alice Springs, they tumble into a whirlwind affair. But an exciting adventure leads to a terrible accident, with shattering consequences. The couple who had so much going for them now find themselves with everything to lose.

Devastated, Ava retreats to her family cattle station to help salvage what she can of the critical situation. But at home on the drought-ridden farm, her brother is being pushed to his limits, and as his depression intensifies, Ava must step in to prevent another family tragedy.

Against the majestic backdrop of Australia’s Red Centre, old dreams are shattered, new babies are born and true love takes flight.

By Australia’s renowned midwife and bestselling author of Mothers’ Day, The Desert Midwife is a romantic drama about strong women, medical miracles and new beginnings

———————————————

Thanks for stopping by!

Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees

Hosted by Kate at Books Are My favourite and Best, the Six Degrees of Separation meme asks you to start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where you end up!

This month’s starting point is Maurice Sendak’s childhood classic Where The Wild Things Are. It’s possible that I first read this, or it was read to me, as a child but my first clear introduction to the book was while I was studying children’s literature as part of my education degree. I know I read it often while teaching, and to my children when they were little. It’s still on the bookshelf in the room my teenage boys share.

 

While an ocean appears in Max’s bedroom to take to where the wild things are, in the adult novel, A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird, an ocean grows in Super Gumboots Willa’s backyard to help her to escape the ‘wild thing’ that is her father.

Super Gumboots Willa is her own superhero, so too is Elsa in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She is Sorry by Fredrik Backman. This heartfelt story shares seven year old Elsa’s quest to deliver letters of apology on behalf of her late grandmother.

Atonement by Ian McEwan shares similar themes of regret, grief, and forgiveness after thirteen year old Briony mistakenly ruins a young man’s life. To be honest I found the book, which I read many years ago, tedious, but I did enjoy the movie (starring Keira Knightly).

There are several points of similarity between Briony and eleven year old Flavia de Luce, the main character in Alan Bradley’s series, which begins with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Both, for example, are British, precocious, and lonely, however while Briony falsely accused someone of a crime, eleven year old Flavia de Luce, with a fascination for chemistry, sets out to solve a crime of which her father has been falsely accused.

Food links the title of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. On her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein discovers she has a magical gift that is also a curse, she can taste the emotions of those who have prepared the food she eats.

Like Rose, twelve year old prodigy Paloma, in the Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery feels it is prudent to hide her thoughts. Her intelligence is both a blessing and a curse, it alienates her from her family and schoolmates to such an extent that Paloma is planning to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday, until she finds friendship with Mr. Kakuro and Renee.

So there you have it, some of you may also have noticed that the six books I have chosen are also linked, each features a child narrator

 

Join in anytime during the month – Click here for the rules!

 

Review: The Roadhouse by Kerry McGinnis

Title: The Roadhouse

Author: Kerry McGinnis

Published: July 2nd 2019, Michael Joseph: Penguin

Status: Read July 2019, courtesy Penguin AU

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Roadhouse is an engaging story of romantic suspense, the eleventh novel set in the Australian Outback region from author Kerry McGinnis.

When Charlie Carver learns of her cousin’s suicide, she decides to leave behind her life in Melbourne, making her way to the remote roadhouse, east of Alice Springs, that she calls home. Little seems to have changed during her five year absence, except her mother appears to be struggling, and within days of Charlie’s return, Molly has a heart attack is is airlifted to Adelaide for life saving surgery.

Charlie willingly steps up to run the roadhouse with the assistance of long time handyman, Bob, and a new cook, Polish backpacker Ute, and is also tasked with taking care of the details related to her cousin’s death. Though she disliked Annabelle, whose beauty barely masked her selfishness, and is beginning to suspect that the suicide could have been faked, Charlie is as shocked and puzzled as everyone else when the body of a murdered woman is found at a nearby abandoned mine site, and is identified as Annabelle.

When Charlie’s family home is ransacked shortly afterwards, she believes the incident is somehow connected to a visit Annabelle made shortly before her death, and danger could be closer to home than anyone expects.

I really enjoyed the mystery element of The Roadhouse, which firstly focuses on the possible motives for Annabelle’s suicide. Charlie is suspicious of the verdict from the outset, believing that even if Annabelle killed herself, she would never choose that particular manner in which to die. After the discovery of Annabelle’s body proves her right, Charlie speculates as to the meaning of a recent visit Annabelle made to the Roadhouse with a strange man in tow, and after the break in at her home, rashly follows a hunch and finds herself in a fight for her life in a tense and thrilling confrontation.

Unfortunately I did feel that the relationship between Charlie and Mike, a stockman she meets from a nearby station, was underdeveloped. The seeds of attraction were sown, but the couple spent very little time together, even less time alone together, and their relationship was unusually chaste for two twenty somethings in this day and age, all of which made Charlie’s ‘proposal’ awkwardly presumptuous, rather than romantic, in my opinion.

The Roadhouse is also a story about family. Molly was not a demonstrative mother, and Charlie’s feckless late father favoured Annabelle, who came to live with Charlie’s family as a young girl after the death of her own parents. Charlie felt overshadowed by her beautiful cousin whose spiteful behaviour towards her often went unnoticed. Charlie hopes to forge a closer relationship with her mother on her return home, and

over the course of the novel comes to understand more about her family’s dynamics.

Ute, with her unique grasp of English, was probably my favourite character in The Roadhouse, I enjoyed the humour she brought to the story and her practical approach to every facet of her life. I also liked the curmudgeonly Bob, whose gruff exterior fails to hide his soft spot for Charlie and Molly.

With a dramatic suspense plot, and likeable characters, in an uniquely Australian setting, I enjoyed The Roadhouse.

Read an Extract

++++++

Available from Penguin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

#lovebetweenthepages

Previous Older Entries