All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Iron Junction – Charlotte Nash

on April 5, 2014

Iron JunctionIron Junction
Charlotte Nash
Hachette AUS
2014, 384p
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Dr Beth Harding has made yet another decision that sets her apart from her family, one that she knows they’ll question, especially her mother. She feels the need to get away from it all, go somewhere where all of the pressure to fit in and expectations on her behaviour are gone. So she accepts a job as a locum at Iron Junction, a mining community in the Pilbara. It’s a long way from Manly in Sydney and that’s exactly what she wants.

The mine is growing rapidly and it seems that the added pressures on the workers to meet targets is leading to some injuries, some of which are worsening unnecessarily because the injured patients aren’t taking the time off required to rest and recuperate. Beth is concerned about what’s going on and the fact that she’s expected to just ignore these injuries and tell the workers that they are fine to return to duty. When she starts making noises and expressing her concerns about what’s happening, she finds herself shut down with threats of negative reports back to the agency that got her the job.

Will Walker was born and raised on a cattle farm but that wasn’t the life for him – he’s left that to his father and his brother and instead works on the mines as an engineer. Sent to Iron Junction, Will finds himself rescuing Beth when she gets a flat battery and from there the two fall into an easy friendship that Will would like to be more but Beth’s recent break up keeps him firmly in the friends camp…for now. The two spend plenty of time together and share some of their concerns about what is going on. For Will, Beth is an unexpected bonus in the FIFO life, someone who is much more than just a catch up fitted in between shifts. But Will is still haunted by something in his past, believing himself not worthy of a relationship with someone like Beth and the decisions he makes have far-reaching consequences as they separate and come together again in a dangerous storm. Can Will ever put the past behind him and move on? And will Beth accept him and everything that he has in his past and give happiness another chance?

Iron Junction is Charlotte Nash’s second novel and I didn’t realise until I began reading it that it was linked somewhat to her first novel, Ryder’s Ridge which I haven’t read. Our hero in this novel is the brother of the hero in Ryder’s Ridge and the characters get a mention occasionally and appear towards the end. However I think that this novel works well if you haven’t read Ryder’s Ridge although I will be tracking it down soon because I enjoyed this and think that I’ll like Ryder’s Ridge equally as much.

I’ve read a few books set in the Pilbara in the last couple of years and I find the setting fascinating. I was born on the east coast and I’ve never been to Perth, much less some of the more remote areas of WA and I find them so interesting to read about, especially the fabulous descriptions. This one is rife with depiction of the local area, seen through the eyes of both Beth, who is a budding photographer and Caitlin, a young Aboriginal girl who is also a photographer. Caitlin takes wonderful photos and Beth is learning to do so as well, using an old SLR camera that belonged to her father. I love taking photos myself (although am very much an amateur) so I enjoyed what extra that added to the story and Beth’s character.

I really appreciated the way Nash developed the romance between Will and Beth. Both characters have some issues stemming from their past – Beth from her upbringing, where she’s never quite fitted in and always been made to feel self-conscious and Will from an incident many years ago that may be coming back to haunt him here in the present. Because of her recent break-up, Beth wants to maintain a friendship with Will and so they are first, friends. And then when Beth decides to take the plunge and go to the next level, Will gets cold feet, still troubled by his past. It sets them back in a very realistic fashion and loved the natural progression of their relationship from beginning to end. I also loved Will’s ability to see Beth’s mother very clearly and the fact that he had her back 100%. I would’ve loved to see some action from Beth about her father after what she discovered late in the book but I do understand that making a decision like that would take some time. I’d also love to see a book about Daniella’s brother Captain Bell in the future. He’s only a very minor character in this one but I liked him and think he’d make a great focus for a future book.

Iron Junction is a very enjoyable rural romance with lots of other elements as well. The story revolving around the mine and the meeting and exceeding of productivity felt very relevant. I haven’t worked on mines obviously but I can imagine that at times, there is pressure to get things done, to keep productivity as high as possible, perhaps not to the level that is in this story but it made for a very good discussion point. I found the inclusion of Caitlin’s story a really interesting touch – actually I’d like to hope she might get her own story one day too!

7/10

Book #76 of 2014

AWWW2014

Iron Junction is book #31 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014

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