All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Return To Stringybark Creek by Karly Lane

on December 18, 2019

Return To Stringybark Creek (The Callahans Of Stringybark Creek #3)
Karly Lane
Allen & Unwin
2019, 328p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

When top-flight journalists Hadley Callahan and Mitch Samuals married two years ago, theirs had been declared the celebrity wedding of the year. But, now, Hadley unexpectedly returns to Stringybark Creek alone to tell her parents one major piece of news while determinedly hiding another even more explosive secret.

Hadley’s big society wedding had killed any hopes that Oliver Dawson, the Callahans’ neighbour and Griff Callahan’s best friend, had nurtured since his teenage years when Hadley was his best friend’s little sister and thus out-of-bounds.

While Hadley’s in town, the shocking suicide of one of their old school friends brings them together as they mourn their loss. Hadley and Ollie begin a campaign to raise awareness of rural mental health, both wanting to make a difference.

With Mitch putting pressure on Hadley to keep quiet, and the secret she’s keeping causing her great anguish, Hadley’s feelings for Ollie take her by surprise. But her life is so messed up at the moment – what future could they possibly have together?

Return to Stringybark Creek concludes the Callahan family trilogy with a delightfully irresistible story of loyalty, hope and the importance of staying true to yourself.

I’ve read and enjoyed the previous two books in this series and I was quite interested in this one because in the previous book, it was discovered that Hadley’s husband was cheating on her but although that was a shocking revelation, an even more shocking one was precisely who he was cheating with. And so with this final book being Hadley’s I wanted to see the fallout, because it was clearly going to have an adverse effect on the entire family.

Hadley returns to her family home after the separation from Mitch, her husband. She’s being ‘kept out of the way’ by the network so that they can spin the separation and eventual divorce in a way that won’t impact negatively on Mitch, their golden boy. Hadley finds herself taking a break from work and becoming back involved in life with her family and neighbours, through good times and bad. She also finally learns about the crush that Oliver Dawson, from the neighbouring farm, has had on her since they were in school.

Oliver was around plenty in the previous book as he’s both Griff’s best friend and also Olivia’s twin. I have to admit, there’s a fair bit of hypocritical posturing from both Oliver and Griff that got a bit annoying after Hadley found out Ollie had feelings for her and they start to make a few tentative steps towards taking their friendship to another level. It’s very ‘how dare you touch my sister’ which, coming from Griff, is quite laughable as he spent the entire previous book doing an awful of of touching to Oliver’s twin sister. In 2019, it’s a bit old fashioned to be reading about brothers going the overprotective route of women who are well into adulthood. I can understand the Griff perhaps thought that Hadley was in a vulnerable place – but does he also not know his own best friend? This is not some random from the pub, it’s a man he’s known probably his entire life. And pretty much everyone except Hadley seemed to know how he felt about her, although even if Griff was perhaps oblivious to that, he should still be able to recognise what sort of man his own best mate is. Also the way in which Hadley is referred to as ‘back on the market’ the second she arrives in town after separating from her husband is a bit of a distasteful term. She’s not a good for purchase.

Where this book does excel is tackling rural depression and suicide. A friend of Oliver’s takes his own life and the entire town are in grief and shock about it. He was a young man and even though he’d had a few setbacks, no one could’ve predicted that this would be the action he would take. Oliver is devastated and angry and he wants to do something about it, to make it so that people don’t have to feel like this is their option. It’s an admirable goal and he’s willing to do whatever it takes in order to spread the word, to try and make it so that people can talk about the things that are bothering them. Change the mindset of country or farming people that you keep that inside, don’t tell anyone if you’re struggling or feeling down. It’s about encouraging conversation, removing the taboo of it. Opening up a dialogue so that hopefully people can realise they are not alone in feeling this way and that there are things they can do, coping mechanisms. That’s a really great part of the book, how involved the community gets and the cheeky idea Olivia comes up with to raise awareness and try and shine a light on the issue.

For me though, the resolution of Hadley’s marriage and the way it ended, lacked something. Maybe I’m just a meaner person than Hadley but I felt her reluctance to tell her parents (so they ended up finding out on public tv….) was childish, she allowed her ex-husband to basically walk all over her and there was a lot of seemingly attempting to frame the culprits as victims, one in particular and although I know things are complex, you can’t ignore how it started and the absolute hurt and betrayal of that. The unapologetic “sorry you felt hurt by it but I saw my attempt for happiness and took it and I’d do it again no matter what” felt incredibly off to me and Hadley’s attempt to make nice at the end, because she still loves the person that hurt her, was selfless but also felt a bit wrong. Like she made all the concessions and the people who acted selfishly and hurt her, made none. Mitch is a complete tosser and although Hadley is well rid of him, she’s not really, is she? And I feel like having to put up with him in her life still, is a poor outcome.

Overall I enjoyed this series but I feel like this one for me personally, wasn’t the strongest instalment.


Book #211 of 2019

One response to “Review: Return To Stringybark Creek by Karly Lane

  1. Mic says:

    This is next for me. i’m sorry it fell a little flat for you. I don’t want too much info so just skimmed…. but I can see your points in the final paragraph. 🙂

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