All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Outback Heart – Fiona Palmer

on September 27, 2013

Outback HeartThe Outback Heart
Fiona Palmer
Penguin Books Aus
2013, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Indianna Wilson loves her small town Hyden with a passion. But like a lot of other country towns, people are leaving for the city. The community spirit and passion is suffering. The local footy team the Saints, once responsible for bringing those that live locally together to socialise as they support the team are languishing on the bottom of the local footy ladder and people have stopped going to the games. Indi is passionate about her football – she cares about it just as much as she cares about her town. Unfortunately, she was born the wrong sex so she can’t play in the local team and she’s not sure they’d take her seriously as a coach either. So she finds Troy Mitchell.

Once a football prodigy with the world at his feet, Troy hasn’t played in years. He coaches instead, moving around from team to team, lifting them up into the finals with his passion, knowledge and drive. But he might’ve bitten off more than he can chew with the Saints when only a handful of them turn up for the first training session. Troy sends them packing, ordering each man to come back with another person to the next session. If they’re going to be a team, especially a team that wins, then they need to up the dedication and start training.

Troy proves to be just the thing that Hyden, the Saints – and Indi – need. He gets the boys fired up and training well and although success doesn’t come overnight, their performances are improving and when they win their first game, people are there to see it. Before long, the crowds are growing and Indi sees that it can be like the old days once more, the footy games bringing the town back together.

But Troy isn’t known for sticking around. Indi knows that he fires something in her that no one ever has before and she thinks he might feel something for her too – but why does he keep pushing her away? What secret is he hiding that prevents him from allowing her to get closer to him? That prevents both of them from taking the happiness that seems to be right in front of them?

I’ve read two of Fiona Palmer’s books before and she’s become a bit of a must-read for me and this book is no exception – in fact it’s the best one I’ve read. The story centers around Indi, a young woman who abandoned her studies in Perth to come back to her country town and care for her ill mother. Indi has stepped into her mother’s shoes in so many ways – she takes care of her father and her brothers and she helps out with just about everything around town. She also finds the time to maintain a full time job and she is also crazy about the local AFL football team where she fulfills a sort of assistant coach role as strapper, physiotherapist, runner and general dogsbody. She desperately wants it to be competitive again and she’s pretty sure Troy Mitchell is the answer.

Whereas Indi is surrounded by people, Troy lives a very solitary life. He was a burgeoning football superstar in his teens until it was all snatched away from him but that pales in comparison to what else was taken away. Troy has erased people from his life and he thinks he has the perfect reason to have done so. He moves around a lot, never making strong friend connections, never having relationships. When he finds himself attracted to Indi, he knows that he needs to get out when the local football season is over. He can’t afford to stay – to stay would be dangerous. He tries to warn Indi away from him but she just refuses to listen. And that threatens Troy’s self control.

Oh these two poor characters! I felt so sorry for them and the way in which they were tortured! I loved Troy and the reasons behind his actions – his heartache was so real and so well written. I understood his motivations – I think it would be easy to think the way Troy did in the same situation, to be tempted to isolate yourself in that way. He thinks he’s doing the right thing but all he’s doing is making people miserable, especially himself. It was really interesting to read about what happened to Troy and the procedures around it and what he had to go through and how it still continued to affect his day to day life. It’s clear that Troy is really attracted to Indi and he is tempted by a future that he thinks doesn’t belong to him. Indi isn’t shy about her feelings about him or what she wants and at first, this only leads to him rejecting her time and time again, but also sending her mixed signals as he fights to keep his growing feelings for her under control. It almost made me cry actually at one stage, so heartbroken for Indi was I. Actually, for both of them, because Troy wasn’t doing it to be a jerk, or because he was frightened of commitment for some ridiculous reason. He actually had a really good reason to fear it but as Indi finally tells him, he has to let her make the choice about whether or not she takes the risk.

I really liked this book – loved the inclusion of football and the way in which it was done. Not long ago several bloggers were talking on twitter about a lack of really good romances that contain football and I’ll be happy to recommend this one in future if the topic ever comes up again. However I do question the epilogue. It left me feeling really deflated and a bit confused because it felt like it was in the wrong spot. I don’t want to say too much about what it contained, because I don’t want to give it away but to sucker punch the reader like that at the end, felt a bit…harsh. That’s not the note on which I like to finish a book that’s going to be marketed as a rural romance.

However – despite the fact that I believe that event should’ve occurred at a different spot within the story, I loved the characters and the writing and the family and friendships. I especially have to mention Troy’s friendship with his childhood friend Freddie. Awesomely done.


Book #249 of 2013


The Outback Heart is book #90 for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

2 responses to “The Outback Heart – Fiona Palmer

  1. Marg says:

    I haven’t read any Fiona Palmer yet, but I think I am going to have to get this one!

  2. mimi says:

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    I will bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
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