All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Return To Roseglen by Helene Young

on August 6, 2018

Return To Roseglen
Helene Young
Penguin Random House
2018, 366p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

At times like these families should be coming together, not tearing each other apart.

On her remote North Queensland cattle station, Ivy Dunmore is facing the end of her days. Increasingly frail, all she holds dear is threatened not just by crippling drought, but by jealousy and greed – and that’s from within her own family.

Can Felicity, who’s battling her own crisis as her fiftieth birthday approaches, protect her mother and reunite her family under the homestead’s faded iron roof? Or will sibling rivalries erupt and long-held secrets from the past break a family in crisis?

Return To Roseglen is a bit of a departure for Helene Young, who has long enjoyed the title of Queen of Australian Romantic Suspense. This book revolves around the Dunmore family, championed by matriarch Ivy who still lives on the family property of Roseglen despite her advancing age. Lately Ivy has been getting a bit confused here and there which unfortunately makes her ripe for the picking by her eldest son Kenneth. He lives nearby on another property but daughters Felicity and Georgina are further afield, Felicity in Brisbane and Georgina wherever her work as a pilot takes her. When Felicity discovers her husband in a compromising position, she decides that she will head home to Roseglen. That will allow her to assess Ivy and see if she needs any assistance and if so, determine what that might be too. Georgina decides to return as well, which sets the three siblings on a collision course as the tensions erupt.

Recently I have read several books where the main characters are women who are slightly older than what I would consider the ‘norm’ for what I read. Not old – just older. Felicity is about to turn 50, Georgina is probably close to 60 and I think Ivy is getting on towards 90. And so there’s a whole bunch of issues and problems that can be explored that women in these age ranges face. For example, Felicity faces starting over, having worked her whole life towards paying off a mortgage and enjoying a comfortable retirement. That’s likely not her future after she discovers her husband’s lack of fidelity and that not only has their mortgage not really decreased all that much but also property prices are falling. Instead of heading into her later working years ‘winding down’ so to speak, she may need to work harder than ever to secure her future after divorce. It can be difficult to start over at any age but there are added stresses when you are coming towards the end of your working life and know that your capacity to earn and secure a comfortable future is limited.

And then there’s Ivy herself…..having lost her husband years ago, Ivy knows she’s coming to that end stage of life. Her worries are different, more about worries for the future of the family property, for her children. I have to admit, I did find the character of Ivy slightly inconsistent at times because everyone kept saying how forward she was, bit of a battle-axe. But she shows significant weakness around her only son and real reluctance to confide in her daughters about what had been going on in recent times and I wasn’t really sure why she kept putting off telling them. I know Ivy had her own plans going on and she was willing to take steps to secure the family property but it just seemed so odd that she kept thinking to herself ‘oh I have to tell them’ and then never actually doing it. I understand the challenge and the responsibility of an ailing parent. My father has recently had to assume full legal and financial responsibility for his mother, who is getting to the stage where her mind is becoming confused and forgetful and she will not be able to live independently any longer. She frequently forgets to eat at meal times, or thinks she has when she hasn’t. It’s a huge deal and it leaves people ripe to be taken for a ride, if the trustee is not 100% vigilant and responsible with the task. There are many who see opportunity and will take what they can get (what they believe is ‘owed’ to them) no matter if there are other siblings, or even if it inconveniences or disadvantages the actual person they are supposed to be caring for. Ken is definitely one such person, a self-entitled, odious man who thought only of himself and how he could use others to fix his own mistakes.

I enjoyed the complicated family relationships in this story – especially the sister dynamic between Georgina and Felicity. They haven’t been particularly close (there’s a significant age gap I think) but when they both come home to Roseglen they definitely find themselves being able to find some common ground, especially considering the fact that the two of them seem to have similar ideas about the property and against the rein of terror of Ken. I also liked Felicity’s friendship with Mitch, the farmer ‘next door’ which dates back to their years as children. Mitch is the one that ‘got away’ but now they are both single and even though Felicity isn’t looking for anything and she’s still dealing with the ending of her marriage, Mitch is there and they fall back into an easy friendship. Mitch also has a very special relationship with Ivy and has always done his best to make sure she was okay through the hard years of drought. I loved the relationship between Mitch and Ivy, it was so sweet and benefited them both so much emotionally.

There’s a mystery here as well, buried deep in the pages. I guessed a small part of it but much of it was an unexpected twist and I thought that played out very well. I’d have liked to have seen a little bit more devoted to Ivy and Georgina though, just to really attack the meat of that relationship. I feel as though it could’ve carried a little bit more of the story. But apart from that, I definitely enjoyed Helene Young’s foray into new territory. I hope she doesn’t completely leave behind romantic suspense but I’ll happily read anything she writes.

8/10

Book #128 of 2018


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