All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer

on September 23, 2015

Saddler BoysThe Saddler Boys
Fiona Palmer
Penguin Books Aus
2015, 359p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from of the publisher/}

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs.

Some people might notice there hasn’t been a lot of action on this blog lately – and by that I mean none at all. In fact this is the first review I’ve written for two months due to serious health issues faced by my husband. However I have still been reading, even if it is a little less than usual and I’m hoping to try and get back into the swing of reviewing, starting with a few titles recently released. When I have been reading, I’ve been picking books by authors I know I already enjoy, the sort of comfort reads that I won’t have any trouble being engaged by. Fiona Palmer is a very well known and loved Australian rural author and I’ve read most, if not all of her previous books so this one was a welcome surprise on my doorstep recently.

Natalie is definitely not what the locals would be expecting when she rolls into town in her cute little sports car with her designer clothes and high heels. She’s clearly from a very different world but Natalie has come to Lake Biddy, population less than 300 in Western Australia, to take up a position at the small local school. She’s very passionate about her job and she cannot wait to meet her young students and get started. Nat’s enthusiasm and energy for her job and the way that she builds a rapport with her young charges as well as her friendliness and willingness to be involved in the local community quickly wins over the residents.

The Saddler Boys packs a lot in between its covers – it’s not just a rural romance. Palmer tackles some issues close to a rural community’s heart as the school Natalie has come to work at faces closure by the government due to lack of numbers, which will mean longer bus rides for the children to nearby, bigger towns with schools. The community bands together to protest the closure and Natalie becomes heavily involved as they campaign to save it. Despite the connection Natalie has made with local single father Drew, and the time they are spending together, she has a boyfriend in the city. She finds herself torn between the life she always envisaged with her boyfriend, who comes from a family very close to her own, but it’s a life that since she moved to Lake Biddy, has become somewhat suffocating. Natalie finds herself patronised by her boyfriend and wondering if he really is all that she had thought him to be. In contrast, time spent with Drew is easy as she learns more and more about country life, helping with shearing and minding Billy, Drew’s son while Drew seeds new crops on the farm. She fits in and she’s one of the first people Drew turns to when he feels that Billy may be in danger. I got a good idea of what it might be like to be a single parent and a farmer as well as how closures of things like schools can really affect tiny communities.

I loved the ease of Natalie and Drew’s friendship and the way Palmer took time to nurture it. Drew is well aware Natalie has a boyfriend and the two of them are mindful of boundaries but at the same time, really enjoy spending time with each other and want it to continue. I really enjoyed the glimpses into Drew’s head that writing in the third person allowed Palmer to give the reader and he’s always much more honest about his feelings for Natalie to himself than she is to herself about him, still confused by the complication of her boyfriend. Drew and Natalie fit together very well, despite their very different backgrounds and lifestyles and all of their scenes together are so well done that you become very invested in them getting it together already. Natalie is perfect with Billy, Drew’s young son who is perhaps a little different, and who requires a little more than most students would. He’s an interesting child and I enjoyed the part of the story concerning him and how it all played out. Children are often hard to place within a book that has romance and it’s difficult to get that authenticity but I feel as though this was definitely one of the book’s strong points.

I love a good rural story – even though I don’t live in the country myself, they’re just so familiar and comforting, they’re the perfect things for me to read when I’m distracted and stressed because I can slip into the story so easily. This was exactly what I needed and I’d recommend it not only to fans of the genre but also those who haven’t yet tried it yet. It’s got enough going on to satisfy any reader.


Book #143 of 2015


To be honest, I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve read for the AWWC because my record keeping has gotten a bit lax during my hiatus. At a guess I think it’s around #57



2 responses to “Review: The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer

  1. Lily Malone says:

    Glad to see you back, Bree and I’m double glad it’s with a book you like 🙂

  2. Welcome back, Bree (I hope your husband is okay! Sorry to hear you’ve gone through that)

    I got this book from NetGalley and it’s now high up on my TBR list! Thanks for the review 🙂

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