All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Lawson’s Bend by Nicole Hurley-Moore

on February 7, 2019

Lawson’s Bend
Nicole Hurley-Moore
Allen & Unwin
2019, 321p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

In the hot summer of 2008, a tragic accident at the lake on the outskirts of Lawson’s Bend forever scars the townsfolk. At an end-of-year celebratory campout, several students from the local high school drown and Henrietta Bolton loses her best friend, Georgie, to the murky waters. Unable to accept this as an accident, Henny runs from the small country town vowing never to come back.

Stephen Drake has never left. Instead, he’s tried to settle down, working with his dad on their small farm. Stephen had dreams of a different life but after the night at the lake, nothing seemed important anymore.

Years later, Henny is forced to return to Lawson’s Bend when her beloved mother dies. Henny’s plan is to finalise her mother’s estate, sell the house and get the hell out of town as quickly as possible. But there is Stephen…

Ever since they were kids Stephen has had a soft spot for Henny and it was he who saved her life that night amid the panic. Yet he never had the courage to tell her just how he felt. But now she’s back in town, Stephen wonders if he has a second chance.

Henny got the heck out of her country town a decade ago after a terrible tragedy. She’s spent her time since that drifting from job to job, travelling, not really doing much. When her mother dies suddenly, Henny is forced back to Lawson’s Bend for the funeral and also to pack up the house and make some decisions. There are some people still in town that never left – people she went to school with who have made their lives in the small central Victorian town and Henny is pleasantly surprised to be reconnecting with some of them. However when there’s another tragedy at the reservoir Henny realises that she still has unanswered questions about what happened all those years ago. She wants to find out the truth – about what is happening now and also what really happened back then and why some people’s accounts don’t seem to add up.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book – Lawson’s Bend is somewhere not too far from Bendigo (which is a couple hours from where I live) and even though I’ve not really been up to that way it’s familiar enough to me to remind me of plenty of places I have visited and spent time in. It’s quite clear that the town was deeply scarred by what happened to the kids at the reservoir almost a decade ago – three teens drowned, including Henny’s best friend. When her visit back to Lawson’s Bend coincides with a 10 year memorial ceremony and sculpture being unveiled, Henny suddenly begins reexamining that time and asking a lot of questions, especially after another incident. She even begins wondering about her own mother’s death and how it suddenly occurred in an area that she was intimately familiar with and visited every day. Henny starts asking questions of the locals, stirring up memories – and there’s definitely someone who isn’t happy with her inquisitiveness.

Which, to be honest, I could kind of understand on a smaller scale. A lot of the people are still very upset by what happened and have tried to move on. Henny isn’t particularly subtle with her amateur investigation and even when variously people tell her that she’s upsetting people, Henny doesn’t really care. I think I’d have liked to see a little more sensitivity in her attitude to be honest. I mean I know she was badly affected too and she’s the only person that at the moment, seems to see a few issues but you kind of have to show a bit of compassion and understanding to people who maybe just have been trying to move on with their lives and do the best they can. Having her come along and stir things up would no doubt be quite upsetting but Henny doesn’t seem to really care about that at all. Or she cares a bit but ultimately it doesn’t change anything, she just keeps bulldozing her way along.

Henny connects again with Stephen Drake, who had a crush on her all those years ago in high school. Stephen stayed in town working on his family’s farm due to several circumstances and he sees Henny’s arrival as a second chance. If she will give him a go. Henny keeps telling him that she’s not sure Stephen is her type. He’s a nice guy and she tends to go more for the bad boy type. But as Henny begins reevaluating her life and what she actually wants, suddenly a life in Lawson’s Bend – and with Stephen – doesn’t seem so unlikely. I really liked Stephen as a character, he’s a genuinely nice guy who has always really cared for and about Henny and even though he doesn’t really believe that things are suspicious the same way Henny does, he tries to be supportive. He’s also the voice of reason in their fledgling relationship when it seems like Henny doesn’t really understand how to interact after an argument. His relationship with his father is really nice too. I enjoyed the scenes with the two of them a lot.

This was an enjoyable read with a bit of intrigue.

7/10

Book #22 of 2019

Lawson’s Bend is the 5th book read and reviewed for The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.

 

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