After 2 years at agricultural college, Alice Day is happy to be back home at Redstone, her grandparents huge property. She is full of exciting plans, things she has learned while she was at school and she can’t wait to implement them. Redstone has always been home to Alice and she appreciates that her grandfather treats her with respect, admiring her ideas and not assuming that she can’t do things just because she’s a woman. When she worked on farms during placements, she was surprised at the sexism she encountered and she’s grateful she was always raised to do anything she wanted.
To help out on the property and replace some of the aging stockmen who have worked there from before Alice was born, her grandfather Sam hires Jeremy (Jed) O’Donnell, the youngest son from a local family who is known for his wild-drinking and womanising ways. Despite Olive Day’s disapproval, Sam is convinced that the young lad deserves a chance and in the right environment, will thrive.
Sam, Alice and Jeremy made a solid team fencing, mustering, breeding and working on the farm. Despite his casual attitude and ribbing of Olive, Jeremy fits in and works hard. He makes casual overtures to Alice, who rebuffs him goodnaturedly. Alice knows his reputation and she thinks he’s not serious. Redstone is her first love and her priority. She knows that Olive and Sam are getting older and in slowly declining health and she wants to do as much as she can and make the farm as successful as possible. However as Alice will soon learn, a house and property are one thing – but it’s who lives and works on it that makes it a true home.
Back in the days I still lived with my parents, my Nan passed all her books on to me. She is a read once and discard reader whereas I am a hoarder. Now that I live interstate, she passes them onto my mother (a notoriously slow reader) who then passes them on to me when she’s done, if I want them. I am visiting my family due to the ill health of my grandfather and I immediately set about exploring my Nan’s stash of books, picking out this one immediately. It’s one of a few rural romance releases I haven’t read and so I was keen.
Redstone Station is very detailed on farm life – the daily routines of mustering, branding, castrating, milking, fencing etc. I got quite a clear picture of what life on the farm was like and I really enjoyed that because farming fascinates me (in theory!). I liked Alice’s rapport with animals and the way in which she devoted herself to them, which she seemed to have been gifted due to her partial Aboriginal heritage. Alice was raised by her grandparents when her young mother couldn’t deal with parenting and she has faced judgement, ridicule and outright bullying at her Catholic boarding school and even in the nearby town for being half Aboriginal. The casual racism in this book kind of surprised me because Aboriginal stockmen have not been unusual and I would’ve thought there’d be more tolerance in such a small town but obviously I am mistaken. Alice herself was very withdrawn and remote though – I didn’t get much of an idea about her except that she was passionate about the farm and that she deeply loved her grandparents. She didn’t seem to find much fun in things though, she seemed more fuelled by dedication, loyalty and duty.
However I am very sorry but I just did not like Jeremy. He annoyed me from beginning to end. I know he was young (Alice is 18 or 19 when this book starts and Jeremy is not much older I think) but that’s not really much of an excuse. For most of the book, he appears to be inhabited by the vocabulary of Alf Stewart from the TV show Home & Away. It’s all far too much “Struth!” and “fair dinkum” and “top sheilas” and “dinky-di” Aussie speak that drives me absolutely nuts to read. It’s not realistic and such blatant over the top ocker speak also ages the character enormously, which didn’t gel with the dribble that came out of his mouth most of the time. As Sam said “sometimes you go too far with your rot” except for me it wasn’t sometimes, it was all of the time. Who makes jokes to someone’s grandmother about sleeping with their granddaughter? It really wasn’t funny. Jeremy was a good worker and he had some flashes of sensibility but most of the time I found him just irritating. He and Alice had zero chemistry whatsoever. I feel that first and foremost the most important story in this book was the farm and that was well done and fleshed out but the secondary story of the budding “romance” between Alice and Jeremy felt very underdone. I never really got a sense of either of them developing a crush or feelings for the other. Jeremy made flirtatious remarks and occasionally propositioned Alice, Alice seemed to come to regard him rather fondly, but like someone might seem to look down on a rascally younger brother or something. This seems to remain the same for almost all of the book and then towards the end things suddenly develop at breakneck pace, but in passing. A lot of it happens “off the page”. I like to feel involved in a romance, like I have a good connection to the characters and feel invested in their outcome. Unfortunately I had zero investment in Alice and Jeremy and really didn’t care one way or another whether they got together or not.
Book #270 of 2013
Redstone Station is book #97 of 2013