All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Road Home – Fiona Palmer

on April 28, 2012

The Road Home
Fiona Palmer
Penguin AU
2012, 355p
Read from my local library

Lara Turner grew up on a farm in rural Western Australia until she went to high school. Although she wanted to stay on the farm, her parents had other plans for their girl and she went to the city for boarding school, stayed for university and then got herself a job with a finance company. When her parents died, their assets were split between Lara and her brother Noah, with Noah getting the farm and Lara getting the Perth house. Lara worked in the city for a couple of years, returning home rarely after the loss of her parents until Noah calls her and asks her to come down so he can talk to her.

Noah wants to sell the farm. He’s getting married and his father-in-law to be has offered him their cattle farm, which is the sort of farm Noah wants to run. He despises sheep, but he has to run them on the family property in order to balance the books. Lara is devastated when Noah confesses he wants to sell – this is her family home. She decides that she wants to sell the Perth house and buy Noah out of the farm and make a go of it herself. She knows that she has to try and save the farm, to keep it in their family. Lara knows it’s not going to be easy – things have been hard in recent years and there’s no money to hire any help. Lara will have to be mostly going it alone, trying to get everything done on time and the bills paid. This proves to be harder than she first imagined when there’s a few discrepancies with large sums of money.

Jack Morgan is one of Noah’s best mates. He’s a Kiwi who came over to work in Australia and stayed. He works on a nearby farm but he often helps out and Noah has asked him to keep an eye on Lara now that Noah is off to his future in-laws. Jack and Lara have a simmering attraction between them but Lara is surprised by Jack’s brusque manner and standoffishness when she moves back to the farm. Previously he’d been quite…friendly. She wonders exactly what the chip on his shoulder is all about and why it seems to be directed solely at her.

The Road Home is a comforting novel that embraces the land and finding your true home. Lara’s a well developed character – when we meet her, she’s suitably ‘citified’, working in Perth as a financial planner, dressing in beautiful clothes with her nails done. When her brother recalls her to the family farm for a chat – a place that has become somewhere Lara has visited rarely since the death of her parents – she’s also reeling from a love affair gone wrong. She finds herself dissatisfied with her job and the fact that she was made to leave the farm for a better education, something her mother always rued that she herself didn’t complete before moving to the farm. It seems like the stars are all aligning for Lara – Noah wants to sell and she has discovered that she’s ready to move back home and farm the land herself.

She knows it isn’t going to be easy and she’s lucky that most of the local community are quite supportive. She expected support from her brother’s friend Jack but instead she gets some snide remarks and hostility. Lara is confused but doubly determined to prove herself and make people see that she isn’t just some city blow in – she belongs here. The evolution of Lara from well groomed 9-5 working girl to jeans-and-boots farm girl isn’t just physical one. She relaxes, she enjoys her challenges, even when things aren’t exactly going right for her, what she is doing still feels right inside. She is content, settled within herself now that she is back ‘home’. She also begins to deal with her parents death in a way that she couldn’t whilst she was still living in the city.

Jack is very enjoyable character and I really loved the ‘differences’ in him – his Kiwi heritage and Maori tats, his gentle nature. He has his reasons for being a bit short with Lara that she isn’t privy to but the reader is and his attitude, whilst a little bit childish is also understandable. I thought they had good chemistry and the pacing of the evolution of their relationship was well done. No instalove here, just a good gentle build-up of attraction and feelings, even when there’s a little adversity in there too!

The Road Home is a lovely addition to the genre of rural lit that is growing in popularity enormously in Australia of late. The characters are strong and developed, from the main ones down to the smallest supporting ones and the passion for the land shines through and gives a very good indication of just what it might be like to try and make a go of farming. It’s the first book I’ve read by Fiona Palmer but she has two previous novels that I’ll be adding to my TBR list.

8/10

Book #68 of 2012

The Road Home counts towards my participation in the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012. It’s the 21st novel completed so far!


10 responses to “The Road Home – Fiona Palmer

  1. Wow, i have not heard of rural lit before, but love that its being written about, great review and awesome challenge. Bonne continuation.

  2. I loved this story too, particularly the slow build up of attraction between Lara and Jack and Lara’s determination to make the most of her situation. I picked up a copy of The Family Farm by the same author and read it recently and loved this one just as much (review not up yet)- so i recommend that one too.

    • Oh I’m glad you enjoyed another of her books just as much Jayne! I’m really looking forward to reading them, I saw one the other day and was going to buy it but I’d already spent enough… I’ll have to go back and grab it another time!

  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    I enjoyed this as well, particularly Lara’s strength and determination. Great review!

    • Rural fiction certainly is delivering some quite admirable protagonists. There’s something compelling about the ‘determined-woman-goes-it-alone’ story, especially on a farm that just sucks me right in. I think I wouldn’t mind having a farm….in theory!

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