Hope’s Road – Margareta Osborn

Firstly, I wish to thank Jessica Malpass from Random Books for sending me a review copy of ‘Hope’s Road’ to read, enjoy and review on my Blog.

Hope road cover

This book is quintessentially Australian.   There are many references to the territory and land as well as iconic Australian items such as Myer,

“A stylish toe-tapping band had been brought in from Melbourne… a supper to rival a Menzies high tea… and the decorations made he Myer Christmas windows seems dowdy.” 

I love reading books that are so clearly set in a given location or time that strong images are formed in your head as you read and lose yourself in that specific place. Margareta Osborn’s descriptions of life in the Australian bush are vivid and engaging, as are her characters.

The story revolves around three rural properties – joined by Hope’s Road – and their owners:

Grumpy, cynical Joe McCauley (“Joe finally took the proffered blue-and-brown striped pyjamas, mumbling, ‘Fucking stripes. Always hated stripes.’ He then glared at Tammy.”) who lives up the ridge on a run-down, shabby property; his great-niece, Tammy who inherited the McCauley family farmstead and has never met her great Uncle thanks to  a family fed between Joe and the rest of the family that happened before Tammy was even born; and dog-catcher and single father, Travis Hunter, a loner, struggling to build and maintain a bond with his 10 year old son Billy.

All three main characters are ‘real’ and have their own story to tell.  Billy, unwittingly, is the common link who threads these three stray strands together and unintentionally starts them all on a journey where they become to know, lean on and eventually love each other (is it all a happy ending though?  You have to read it to see!  I can tell you that there are certainly many hurdles and obstacles on the way to the end of their journey together including farming disasters, broken bones and a flood…)

My favourite character had to be Tammy McCauley.  She is strong, independent and has a stomach of steel (I was cringing just reading the things she had to do to her animals to save them!)  She is married to an abusive, cheating man who continues to torment her and tries to make her life a misery even though he is now living with his ‘bit on the side.’  She deserves her shot at happiness and you really end up rooting for her.  Billy is the other character that you can’t help but love.  He is well written and comes across as a typical mischievous 10 year old (I have one of those living with me, so that may explain the soft spot I have for him!)  Joe McCauley is very unlikable at the start of the book (who swears at an innocent 5 year old girl?)  as he is so bitter from  40 or so years ago when he was jilted by his wife-t0-be for his brother (Tammy’s grandfather.)  He has spent his life since then living the life of a hermit, spying on his estranged family and later his great-niece…

The story just sweeps you along with it and I have to admit that this is my first ‘farm story’ and it has certainly left me wanting to read more rural novels so thank you, Margareta!

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This review is part of the Hope’s Road Blog Tour.  Why don’t you join along?  Previous Blogs on this Tour have been:

1girl2many Books

Confessions from Romaholicks

Tomorrow’s review comes to you from:

Book Muster Down Under

Margret Osborn

Author photograph – Margareta Obsorn

Hope’s Road Media Release (2)

Life After Life – Kate Atkinson

I am a huge fan of Kate Atkinson so was just a tad excited when I was invited to read and review a copy of her newest book, ‘Life After Life.’  The review copy was sent directly to me Kindle so I read it not knowing anything about it (much harder to read/find a blurb on an e-book.)  I was a little disappointed for the first 20 pages or so to find no Jackson Brodie appearing on the scene and was a little confused by the jumping around for the first maybe 40 pages but then something happened and I became hooked!

Life After Life

The story focuses on Ursula Todd,born on 11 February 1910 during a period of heavy snow that prevents the doctor getting to her in time and the baby is stillborn.  Three pages later Ursula is born with the doctor in attendance this time and survives.  She meets her next death 5 years later whilst leaning out of a  bedroom window to retrieve her knitting doll thrown out by her sadistic older brother (he remains equally nasty throughout the book.) She leans too far and crashes to the ground far below.  However, the next page in the book sees Ursula’s sister, Pamela, coming upstairs to let her know that her tea’s ready before she even climbs up onto the ledge and is thereby given a further shot at life.

The book continues in this vein with Ursula dying or facing different hardships that are resolved within a few pages.  It is a very interesting concept and as the book progressed, I liked seeing the connections building up between certain characters and events.  A woman she shares time with in a bunker in 1945 becomes a woman she saves from a bomb in another life and then just a passer-by in another thread.

This book is very different to Atkinson’s crime novels but is written in her usual clever story-telling prose.  I found ‘Life After Life’ harder to get into than her previous books but once you’re in its ‘pocket’ you want to keep reading until you get to Ursula’s final, final death.

The Micawber Tavern

Last night, Hubby and I escaped without kids and went out for a very enjoyable meal at the lovely Micawber Tavern near where we live. I forgot to take my camera with me so didn’t get to take any photos of the inside, which is made to look like an old Dickensian street. It also has a snug appropriately called ‘The Dickens room’ but we hadn’t reserved a table in there so we were with the rest of the ‘paupers’ in the main room.

Micawber

Whilst we were enjoying our kid-free meal (no chicken nuggets or pink cordial on our table, thank you very much!) we got onto the subject of Blogs and I realised how long it has been since I posted on Reading in The Bath. My apologies. In my defence, I have gone back to full-time work and am finding it quite the juggle with having 4 primary aged kids and all their sport commitments and social lives (theirs not mine… They get out a lot more than I do these days!)  However, I promise to try my best to keep updating this Blog as often as I can as I do enjoy it and want to share the wonderful books I read with you all.

The Dinner – Herman Koch

One of the books I chose with my ‘footy team’ Book Voucher was ‘The Dinner’ by Herman Koch. I hadn’t heard anything about this book until I flicked through the new in-store flyer and it was featured in there. It sounded pretty interesting so into my ever-ready book basket it went. I’m so glad it did as it was the first book I read when I got home and thought it was great.

I really enjoyed Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The Slap’ and this book reminded me of it. Like with ‘The Slap,’ there is one central incident in the book and we are privy to private conversations that other characters aren’t and we piece together their personalities and beliefs based on these conversations.

Two brothers and their wives meet for dinner at a restaurant. Paul, the main protagonist knows it won’t be an enjoyable evening as he has to spend time with his brother, the politician and possible future Prime Minister.  Conversation is fraught and the atmosphere surrounding the dinner table is tense.  As the dinner progresses, Paul becomes more lost in his own thoughts and through these thoughts, we learn about the characters of Paul and Serge’s sons and and the terrible thing they have done, which forms the main theme of the book.

And that’s basically the book in a nutshell – centered around a dinner conversation and the far reaching effects of a premeditated, yet impulsive action.  It is an odd book in some ways but very clever and thought-provoking, and I’m so glad that I stumbled across it.  I can see it becoming very popular and much talked-about as it is as controversial as ‘The Slap.’

‘…In that moment, I swear we were infinite.’

I have heard tales of a rather profound, inspirational little book that has been compared to ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ (which I’ve read and loved) and ‘A Seperate Peace’ (which I haven’t as yet) and has had many a tattoo inked in its’ honour… This infamous book is of course, Stephen Chbosky’s brilliant ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’  I have thought of reading it for years and now, knowing that its’ movie release is imminent, I finally went and bought a copy.  I wish I’d done so sooner as I could have read, re-read and revisited it an infinite amount of times by now as I LOVED it!  And that’s all there is to say on the matter.  If you haven’t already done so, grab yourself a copy now, read, devour and love it.

Image

‘And all the books you’ve read have been read by other people.  And all the songs you’ve heard have been heard by other people.  And the girl that’s pretty to you is pretty to other people.  And you know if you looked at these facts when you were happy, you would feel great because you are describing “unity.”‘

Books, books, books – the best gift you can ever receive!

My son plays junior football and I’m the team’s Team Manager (for my sins!) It was our season break-up recently where we congratulate the boys and their coaches on a great season of footy. The parents had clubbed together and also got me a thank you gift, which was a lovely surprise. They clearly know me well as they bought me a book voucher – the best gift anyone can ever give me!

The very next day I rushed off to the book shop to browse, browse, browse and spend, spend, spend! This is the stash I came home with.

‘Fresh Meat!’ in the form of books…

At the shopping centre where Dymocks is, they quite often have independent stalls scattered around for a week or so at a time. I was ecstatic to see a book selling stall there this week and best of all, all the books on it were just  a gold coin each. I could not let that opportunity go un-shopped so also brought home this mini mountain:

 

Another book I bought for a dollar from the same book stall was one I’d been wanting to read for a long time, ever since I heard about it on Richard and Judy – ‘No and Me’ by Delphine De Vigan (review coming soon.)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This was one of the first books that I downloaded onto Charlotte (Kindle.) It has since been released quite widely in ‘book’ form and I was surprised to see that a lot of booksellers are classifying it as a children’s book. I guess, reflecting back on it, that it is told from a young boy’s perspective and it does involve children and it is written in quite a simple, straightforward manner with little violence etc. Oh, and it has a boy on a quest element to it, which I guess is fairly commonplace in children’s literature these days, so maybe I’m not surprised to find it there. It makes no difference anyway as I enjoyed the story and it has enough quirkiness and originality in it to keep me engrossed and appeal to both adults and children alike.

The story is centered around 15 year old Jacob.  He is very close to his grandfather because he is the only one who ever listened to the old man’s tales of a school for children with special abilities.  One day, his Grandad is brutally murdered and when Jacob goes through his room, he finds old photos that show some of these ‘peculiar’ children.  (These photos form part of the book so you get to see them too.)

Jacob and his father travel to Wales so Jacob can see for himself that his Grandfather’s ramblings – as his father sees them – are completely fabricated.  However, Jacob stumbles upon a trail that leads to an alternate pocket in time where he eventually meets these peculiar children and grows to love and care for them as his Granfather himself did during the bleak, desperate time of the second World War, which plays its’ part in the story too.

This is an intriguing, atmospheric, creepy, magical, suspenseful book that is beautifully written and illustrated.  I plan to buy it in book form too actually so I can look at the beautiful photographs in more detail.  They are apparently genuine and borrowed from a collector’s own vintage collection.  I love them!

This image shows ‘Levitating Girl’ who has to wear weighted shoes to stop herself from floating away.

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