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Review: Birds Of A Feather by Tricia Stringer

on October 19, 2021

Birds Of A Feather
Tricia Stringer
Harlequin AUS
2021, 464p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Who will find you when you lose your place in the world?

Full of practical wisdom, this heart-warming novel from a bestselling author celebrates finding help where you least expect it as well as the ties between women that can change – and save – lives.

Eve has been a partner in a Wallaby Bay fishing fleet as long as she can remember. Now they want her to sell – but what would her life be without work? She lives alone, her role on the town committee has been spiked by malicious gossip and she is incapacitated after surgery. For the first time in her life she feels weak, vulnerable – old.

When her troubled god-daughter Julia arrives at Wallaby Bay, she seems to offer Eve a reprieve from her own concerns. But there is no such thing as plain sailing. Eve has another house guest, the abrasive Lucy, who is helping her recuperate and does not look kindly on Julia’s desire for Eve’s attention.

But Lucy, too, has demons to battle and as each woman struggles to overcome their loss of place in the world, they start to realise that there may be more that holds them together, than keeps them apart.

But will these birds of feather truly be able to reinvent what family means? Or will the secrets and hurts of the past shatter their precarious hold on their new lives … and each other? 

I thought this was a really nice story, showcasing a small town and giving a good example of how sometimes you build your own family and that some of the closest people to us are not necessarily the ones we are related to.

It revolves around three women who are all at quite different phases in life – Eve is 70, long ago widowed and her two grown sons live far away. For many years Eve has been partner in a very profitable prawn trawler fleet but now her business partner wants to sell and travel. For Eve, the role she plays in the business is her lifeline, especially seeing as of late, she’s become somewhat ostracised from the community. When she injures her shoulder, someone recommends Lucy, new to town but with nursing qualifications, to be her daily help.

Lucy and her partner Alec have moved back to Wallaby Bay, where Alec grew up. They have a plan where Alec works FIFO and they’re saving as much money as possible to start their own business. Lucy is often alone with the kids and she’s reluctant to call on Alec’s parents for help, not wanting to be a burden. Lucy is good natured and isn’t offended by Eve’s brusque manner and sometimes churlishness, knowing that people aren’t at their best when injured. It isn’t long before the two of them build a good rapport, upset somewhat by the arrival of Julia.

Julia is the daughter of Eve’s longtime best friend and she’s at a crossroads. Her funding for her work has dried up, she’s feeling disconnected in her relationship and she feels that a trip back to Wallaby Bay might help. She’s not impressed at finding Lucy helping Eve and the two take a while to find some common ground but eventually the three women form a strong bond and before long they each become confidants to the other and help them through difficult times.

I really enjoyed the way the women built a relationship – Eve and Julia are close obviously as Julia’s mother (now deceased) was Eve’s best friend and Eve has seen Julia as like a daughter to her almost her whole life. Their contact has been a little sporadic lately, with Julia’s work and the general busyness of life. Lucy is new to the area and she and Eve had only crossed paths once before someone suggests she might be able to help Eve after her injury. Lucy has some complex feelings revolving around nursing again which is hinted at being rooted in the tragedy of 2020 but it takes a while for the whole story to be revealed.

I think when the author wrote this, it was probably expected that at this stage, the pandemic would be over but it hasn’t panned out that way. Life in the novel is back to ‘normal’ but you can tell that for Lucy, the stress and guilt and horror of it all, what she experienced, has not faded. It showcases what it might’ve been like, just a snapshot of life for frontline workers that they experienced last year and are unfortunately still continuing to experience, with the Delta variant and the new wave of cases. I really enjoyed Lucy’s story and how it unfolded, as well as her relationship with Alec, her feelings about her in-laws as well as her parental guilt. I think it’s important to see that most of us have guilt about something in regards to our kids!

It took me longer to warm to Julia, I felt like the way she was towards Lucy in the beginning was quite unfair but once Julia warmed up a bit and kind of relaxed, I felt like I got a better showing of her personality. Her work was interesting and it does make you think what might happen to funding that was allocated in 2020 but I was less interested in her relationship woes and felt that ended up being overly dramatic for little reason and resolved very easily with one conversation they perhaps should’ve had months prior.

What I really appreciated was the way the three women band together (especially once circumstances mean they’re all sharing Eve’s quite large house) and build something. There’s strength in all of them together and they really do find confidence and a kind of clarity in sharing their troubles and getting feedback and supporting one another.

Very enjoyable.

7/10

Book #180 of 2021

Birds Of A Feather is book #78 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2021


2 responses to “Review: Birds Of A Feather by Tricia Stringer

  1. Marg says:

    I need to read this. I have always liked this author’s writing.

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