Bree and I went to the signing and chatted with Margareta for ages. I duly bought the book, which Margareta signed, and that was that. I never actually got around to reading the book. Now, having read Hope's Road, I am pretty sure that I am the one who has missed out by not having read Bella's Run and I will be rectifying that as soon as I can! I feel like I should apologise profusely to Margareta! Sorry, sorry, sorry!
Hope's Road focuses on three people who live on three properties near each other that are connected by Hope's Road in the Gippsland region of Victoria. There is curmudgeonly old Joe, his estranged grand niece Tammy and neighbour Travis Hunter who lives with his young son Billy. All three of them are used to living pretty much alone and always self reliant. While for Joe and Travis this is pretty much a lifestyle choice, for Tammy this has come about as a result of being in an emotionally and, more recently, physically abusive marriage all the while trying to keep the family farm going.
Tammy was married to Shon Murphy for years. While her grandparents were alive, he helped around the farm, but once they died and the property was specifically left to Tammy only he became resentful and that resentment only kept on growing. Now, he has moved on to someone else and he wants a divorce straight away. The fact that the farm is Tammy's and has been part of her family for generations is no concern to him. He wants a payout and if the only way for him to get it is for Tammy to sell up, then so be it. One of the few things I wasn't sure about in this book was the way that the divorce, and in particular the property settlement, had to happen so quickly. It is a minor qualm though.
Travis Hunter has bought his mother back to her home town with his son Billy in tow. Travis is a feral dog trapper (the dogs being feral, not Travis), a solitary job for a solitary man. Trav is doing his best for his son, but to say they are just getting by is probably about all. He has no clue about creating the emotional connection to his son that Billy requires. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of those reasons is that when his wife walked away from the both of them when Billy was just a toddler, Travis left his son with his mother and continued to do his job, leaving her to practically raise her grandson. Now that his mother is no longer capable of being the main care giver, Travis has to work out how to go about that, and he needs to learn quickly.
Joe is an embittered old man who walked away from his family 60 years before because of a woman and never spoke to any of them again - not the woman, or his brother, or his niece or even his grand niece (unless you count yelling at her when she was a small girl to get off his land as talking). He can see the house that was once his home from his front verandah through his rifle scope and has a regular series of informants, so he usually knows what is going on at Montmorency Downs but that is as close as he wants to get to his grand niece. He is content to do what needs to be done on his own property and to sit on his verandah and watch the world go by.
Billy soon becomes the glue that starts to unite these three strangers. He often finds himself up at Joe's place or down at Tammy's house helping out and also using the computer because his father refuses to recognise that he needs one for his schooling. Tammy can see that Billy is desperate for his father's approval and she isn't shy about letting Travis know. In fact, Billy is desperate for any kind of family relationship, as evidenced by his hope when his mother turns up in town. I felt so much for Billy many times throughout this book. He was a great kid who just needed a bit of attention, not least of which to attend to an undiagnosed medical condition, and who was desperate for love where ever he could find it.
One day, Billy is up at Joe's place when there is an accident which leaves Joe with a broken hip. When the doctors tell him that he can not go home until he is healed and that he will have to live in the nursing home in the mean time, he is horrified and reacts badly. Both Travis and Tammy offer to help look after him. At first Joe refuses belligerently, pretty much because he is a stubborn old coot, but given the choice of the nursing home or the help of strangers, he relents.
Slowly but surely the relationship between the three of them grows. Tammy begins to get to know her Uncle Joe without actually knowing why it was that her only blood relative has always been a stranger. Joe and Travis begin to recognise that they share quite a lot of traits which can be seen as both good and bad. And for Tammy and Travis there is a strong attraction that is growing between them. But with Tammy's divorce proving so difficult, Trav's ex-wife in town, a fragile trust growing between them all and Mother Nature determined to throw in a big curveball too, there are a lot of challenges for this group of people to deal with.
I have a big list of jobs that I would never do. These include things like being a childcare worker or a nurse, a cop and more. After reading some of the things that Tammy had to do on her farm (bloat...ugh!), I am pretty sure that you could add farmer to that list.
The rural lit genre is one that seems to be growing and growing here in Australia. For the most part, I have been really pleased with the books I have read. They represent a side of life that I as a city dwelling Aussie wouldn't normally see as much but I can still find the characters relatable. They also often have a really strong sense of Australia in the humour and the language and this book is no exception!
Now, where did I put my copy of Bella's Run?
I was invited to participate in a blog tour for this book by the publisher. Check out other stops in the tour including yesterday's stop at MrsMichelles and tomorrow's stop at Daystarz's Books.
You can see all the stops below. Click on the banner to make it bigger.
|Banner created by Marcia from Book Muster Down Under|
From the author of the bestselling Bella's Run comes another captivating rural romance set in the the rugged, beautiful high country of East Gippsland.
Hope's Road connects three very different properties, and three very different lives …
Sixty years ago, heartbroken and betrayed, old Joe McCauley turned his back on his family and their fifth-generation farm, Montmorency Downs. He now spends his days as a recluse, spying upon the land - and the granddaughter – that should by rights have been his.
For Tammy McCauley, Montmorency Downs is the last remaining tie to her family. But land can make or break you - and, with her husband's latest treachery, how long can she hold on to it?
Wild-dog trapper, Travis Hunter, is struggling as a single dad, unable to give his son, Billy, the thing he craves most. A complete family.
Then, out of the blue, a terrible event forces the three neighbours to confront each other - and the mistakes of their past …