Review: The Long Weekend by Fiona Palmer


Title: The Long Weekend

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: 1st December 2021, Hachette Australia

Status: Read December 2021 courtesy Hachette Australia


My Thoughts:


In the contemporary new release from Fiona Palmer, The Long Weekend, four strangers attend a writing workshop retreat in southern Western Australia run by a bestselling author.

Wife and mother Alice, wants advice on crafting a memoir she hopes will reach women who share her experience of motherhood.

Simone, an Instagram influencer, has been contracted to write a book about her inspirational weight loss journey.

Buff gym owner Jamie, the only male, is coy about his aspirations.

Single mother Beth has come to the retreat at the urging of her sister Poppy, but what she wants to learn from their facilitator, Jan Goldstein, is not something that can be taught.

A largely character driven story, The Long Weekend explores several themes including trauma, loss, forgiveness, redemption, and self discovery. Prompted by a writing exercise, the five protagonists confront and let go of the secrets, mistakes and insecurities that haunt them. There is a lot of emotion in their individual stories, touching on a range of contemporary social issues, which Palmer handles sensitively.

There’s some drama between the characters. Alice and Jamie aren’t strangers after all, though they haven’t seen each other for years, Simone oversteps with her Instagram obsession, and Beth can barely hide her contempt for Jan. Even though it’s not terribly realistic, I liked the romance that flared between two of the protagonists. The connection that forms between all of the characters was more convincing, and I particularly enjoyed the epilogue.

The Long Weekend is an engaging and ultimately uplifting novel, an easy afternoon’s read.


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Review: Tiny White Lies by Fiona Palmer

Title: Tiny White Lies

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: August 8th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read August 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia


My Thoughts:

Tiny White Lies is an engaging contemporary tale from best selling Western Australian author Fiona Palmer.

When Ashley discovers her fifteen year old daughter is the subject of bullying both at school and online from her classmates, she is heartbroken. Already struggling to cope in the aftermath of her husband’s recent suicide, she suggests that they escape for the school holidays in the hopes of at least temporarily leaving bad memories behind.

After a difficult year that has left her feeling disconnected from herself, her husband and her device-obsessed teenage children, Nikki, inspired by her best friend’s idea for a vacation, suggests Ash and Emily join them at her husband’s cousins farm near Bremer Bay on the southern coast of W.A.

Ash and Nikki are delighted as their children adjust to a new tech-free routine, enjoying the ocean, bushland and farm activities Luke’s farm provides, but for the adults the lack of distractions becomes uncomfortable as the little white lies they have told one another, and themselves, cast a pall over their vacation.

A story of relationships, secrets, lies and love, there is plenty of high emotion, drama and even romance on offer in Tiny White Lies. Palmer briefly examines a raft of serious issues including mental illness, suicide, bullying, cancer, marriage difficulties, and body-image but its strongest focus is on the theme of disconnection.

I found Ash and Nikki to be likeable and sympathetic characters, though I don’t have much in common with either of them, I still felt they were relatable. As a mother of teenagers their concerns about their children, particularly in relation to electronic media use, are familiar, as are their children’s attitudes.

I loved the setting, having spent plenty of school holidays in southern Western Australia, and in both Albany and Esperance, which are west and east, along the coast, of Bremer Bay respectively. Palmer evokes the wild beauty of the area with its dense bushland and gorgeous white sand beaches, spending a few weeks at Luke’s farm would definitely be no hardship.

Written with warmth and insight into the challenges faced by modern families, I enjoyed reading Tiny Little Lies, as I’m sure all fans of Australian rural contemporary fiction will.


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Also by Fiona Palmer reviewed at Book’d Out




Review: Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer


Title: Matters of the Heart

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: August 27th 2019, Hachette Australia

Status: Read August 2019 courtesy Hachette/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ has been the subject of numerous retellings, especially of late, and to be honest, I was a little hesitant about selecting this for review. As it happens, my doubts were unfounded, Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer is a charming, delightful and thoroughly enjoyable adaption of the classic romance novel.

The story of Matters of the Heart doesn’t stray far from the original plot of ‘Pride and Prejudice, but it is effectively translated into a modern tale, exploring the themes of love, family, class prejudice, gender and of course, pride, in an Australian rural setting.

Palmer deftly reimagines the beloved characters of Pride and Prejudice, with the story focusing on Lizzy, the second oldest daughter of the Bennet family. Spirited, smart and passionate about working on the land, she is determined to ensure the success of their sheep farm, Longbourn.

The author introduces Will Darcy as the best friend of new neighbouring property owner, Charles Bingley. While Charlie and Lizzy’s older sister, Jane, hit it off immediately, Lizzy is less impressed with the wealthy Will, especially when she inadvertently overhears him make unflattering remarks about Longbourn’s viability under a woman’s (her) management.

Their relationship is beset by obstacles, not the least their poor first impressions of one another. Lizzy pegs Will as a snob, and he fails to give her the respect she is due.

Present also in the story are versions of Charlotte, as Lizzy’s best friend, Lizzy’s awkward suitor (Ken) Collins, and (Luke) Wickham, a charming rodeo rider who stirs up trouble, among others, including all of the Bennet sisters.

Crafted with wit, warmth and heart, even if you have never read, or watched, Pride and Prejudice, Matters of the Heart is an entertaining rural romance novel in its own right. I loved it.


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Also by Fiona Palmer reviewed at Book’d Out 



Review: The Sunburnt Country by Fiona Palmer

Title: The Sunburnt Country

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: Penguin Australia February 2013

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Status: Read from February 25 to 28, 2013 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

The Sunburnt Country is Fiona Palmer’s fourth engaging novel set in the regional area of her home state, Western Australia. In a small country town where the residents are struggling to survive the drought, bankers are the enemy.

Jonelle Baxter dreads having to meet with the new Bundara bank manager, her mechanical repair business is not in good financial shape despite keeping her as busy as ever and she is risking bankruptcy by falling behind in her loan repayments. She doesn’t expect to be attracted to the suited city boy who threatens everything she loves.
Daniel Tyler is in town to do a job, he has two months to tie up loose ends before the permanent bank manager will arrive and then he can return to his comfortable city life and a significant promotion. He doesn’t expect to find a home in Bundara… or love with the town’s only mechanic.

I found Jonelle aka “Jonny” a very likable character (though not her name so much). As a mechanic with a love of dirt car racing and a Torana her most prized, she is a little different to most romantic heroines, though definitely a tomboy she is still feminine. Her loyalty to her family, friends and community is her best trait. She risks her own business, accepting barter and delayed payment, in order to support those doing it tough and serves as an volunteer rescue crew member. She is close with her family which includes brother Zach and best friend Nae (Renee,) who provide a secondary romantic subplot and when childhood friend Ryan falls apart, she doesn’t hesitate to do all she can to help him get back on his feet.

Jonny’s close family and friendships contrast with Daniel’s lack of genuine relationships. His relationship with his father is complicated by the man’s narrow focus on work and his estrangement from his mother and younger brother after his parent’s divorce. Daniel is still very much in his father’s shadow but his time in Bundara gives him a fresh perspective. I liked the way in which Palmer developed Daniel’s character, though as a hero he was perhaps a little too passive for my tastes.

The romance between Jonelle and Daniel is fairly low key, developing naturally and pleasingly not beset by simple misunderstandings. There are good reasons for their wariness with each other – Jonelle will never leave Bundara while Daniel has a life in the city to return to. Though the romance is a feature of the novel, I really like that the author doesn’t rely on their relationship to promote personal growth for each of her characters. The decisions both Jonelle and Daniel make are about their individual needs, not the romance between them.

Fiona Palmer authentically captures the spirit of a community doing it tough, waiting for the rain, and I really liked the way in which she showed how the effects of the drought affect not only the farmers, but the town as a whole. She also touches on the issues of depression and suicide as Ryan struggles to deal with the end of his marriage and his failing farm.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Sunburnt Country, just as in The Road Home, Palmer’s own passion for the land bleeds into the story, her scenes are vivid and genuine, just as her characters are. This is another Australian rural fiction title I am happy recommend.

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