Book Club: Driftwood

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Author: Mandy Magro
ISBN: 9781743564639
RRP: $29.99

Driftwood is the latest release by Australian author Mandy Magro, it is her fourth novel and the second I have read. Magro is an author passionate about the Australian bush and that shows through her writing, she was born and bred in Far North Queensland where Driftwood is set.

This story is heart-warming as well as heartbreaking and just a little big intriguing. I was hooked from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out. I think I’m going to find it a little difficult to write a spoilerless review but I am certainly going to try.

There were a few main plotlines running through Driftwood and two timelines. It took a little while for me to get my head around the fact that we were jumping from the 1860s to 2012 in almost alternating chapters and seemingly unrelated characters. It wasn’t long before I worked out how the characters related which made the time jumps a little easier to handle, and I just wanted to keep going so I could see it all come together.Another of the major plotlines was quite predictable and I saw it coming very early on so there was a part of me that just wanted the reveal to come quicker. I put it together so early that I felt it shouldn’t have taken so long for the reveal.

My biggest issue with the story concerns that plotline in that there was such a big lead up to the reveal and then there was nothing following it. We didn’t learn anything about how it was resolved, how it was dealt with or what fallout there may have been. It was almost as if we were left at a cliffhanger moment and then jumped six months into the future for all loose ends to be tied up. I think there would have been a lot of conflict resolution and personal discovery moments in those missing six months that left me a little disappointed for having missed out on. I think the story would have been stronger had we journeyed through those six months with the characters.

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Taylor Whitworth is our present-day heroine, she has just had a major blowup with her parents and taken off to find the life she feels she was destined for. Her mother and stepfather want her to follow in his footsteps and go to uni to gain qualifications and build a career. Taylor wants nothing of the sort, she feels destined for a life on the land – following in the footsteps of the biological father she will never meet. With no real destination in mind Taylor sets off, believing that she’ll know where she’s looking for when she finds it. Late one night on a deserted highway she runs out of fuel and has to hike into the nearest town, until a farmer happens by and drives her into nearby Driftwood where she quickly feels at home and decides to stay.

The wayward farmer is Jay Donnellson, a born and bred cowboy who has had a rough couple of years and is feeling the strain. He is a gorgeous guy, inside and out, though he has built quite the protective wall around his heart. He is struggling to hold onto the farm that’s been in the family for generations, is worried about his grieving mother as they both mourn the loss of his father and he is still recovering from a broken relationship. Jay has a heart of gold and just wants a break, which he may just have found in the appearance of Taylor – if he ever lets down his shields.

Taylor is offered work in the local pub and then also on the Donnellson farm when mustering starts. She just happened into the town that was destined to be her new home, everything seemed to be coming together except the sadness of never getting to know her biological father.

Driftwood is a beautiful tale of small town Australia where everyone knows everyone else, and it doesn’t take long to find out about people when you’re new to town, and the sense of community is palpable. Often you read of the small towns where you may be welcomed but you can’t truly belong until you are generations down the track but Driftwood doesn’t seem to be like this. They are quite happy to embrace you right from the beginning which was lovely to read of.

The story of the past is one of enduring love, of hard work and toiling for your dreams to ensure the legacy you leave your descendants is strong. The love of William and Anne is tangible and beautiful. There is something glorious in a love that is completely unconditional and encompassing. The love where you live and breathe for someone, are willing to die or kill for someone and a love that really does last a lifetime because that isn’t something that happens very often anymore. Much of William and Anne’s legacy is the love of a lifetime.

Driftwood is quite short at only 256 pages but it packs a lot of punch. A story of following your dreams, no matter how unlikely they may seem, and working hard to fulfill them. A story of love and loss, heartbreak and rebirth. A story with a guest appearance by a very down-to-earth and loveable Adam Brand. An appearance that shows him to be a regular, community minded country boy still working on the land. This is a story that I really enjoyed but I did find fell a little short for me because there was a lot of information that was skipped over that I think would have added a lot of depth to the story.

19 thoughts on “Book Club: Driftwood

  1. Love your “spoilerless” review, Michelle. It can be SO difficult finding the right balance, can’t it, but if anyone can, you can and do. I really admire the way you approach a review and the fact that you “LOVE WORDS” comes across so strongly. This gives a book lover/reader like me so much to look forward to. Thanks for the wonderful way you add to books, it is special.

    1. Thank you so much Trish, what a wonderful boost that just gave my day. I really appreciate you saying that because it’s hard sometimes to know what others will think of my reviews.
      Have a wonderful evening, you just brought a big smile to mine. 🙂

  2. I have just finished my copy of this book, and agree with all that was said in the ‘spoiler review’. I found it in some ways, very similar to the writing of Di Morissey.
    I also agree that it suddenly ‘jumped’ 6 months where so much would definitely have happened to the characters.A shame, as so much had led to a certain point, and then it suddenly was all happy families etc.

    I personally didn’t like so much swearing. Don’t we get enough of that on TV and in the street, without having it in the written word as well.

    In all, I did enjoy it, and it had me hooked straight away, but it could have had alot more chapters if there hadn’t been the 6 months forward jump

  3. Hi All – Driftwood was a hit for me. I found it an easy read which held my interest throughout. I loved the setting and how we were introduced to the characters within and part of Driftwood. Loved that the characters were down to earth and real. I understand what Michelle and others have said about missing maybe those important last 6 months but I personally liked it – wasn’t fazed about all that – I just let my imagination work it out and the results are quite obvious (once you read it – you’ll know what I mean)
    I enjoyed that the story stepped in and out of the past – and the effect these events had on the characters.Mandy Magro made it very easy to follow these different eras and stories through the chapter headings and I liked how the two stories connected in the last chapters to complete the tale.
    Thanks for letting me be part of the Driftwood Bookclub. Will be happy to share my copy with friends and family

  4. I LOVED DRIFTWOOD – The name, the cover, the story, the characters. I was pleased I’d read Michelle’s great review so I wasn’t at all disappointed with the lack of detail in one section, but I could have been if I wasn’t prepared to be disappointed at some point.
    I loved the easy writing style, the wonderful Australian setting and the description of the cyclone was just incredible.
    In some respects some of the story line was very predictable but that in no way spoilt anything for me.

    I particularly enjoyed the two story lines that constantly intertwined, the ancestry from the 1860s and the 2012 story and the way the two eras were connected. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book I would have been more than prepared to be given more details in each era and as Michelle says, “there would have been a lot of conflict resolution and personal discovery moments……”

    The main characters were well defined and it was easy to relate to them. I doubt that I would have been as forgiving as Taylor was if my mother had robbed me of my father as Taylor’s Mum did To delve more deeply into the characterisation would spoil the story for someone who wanted to read the book themselves.

    All in all, I found it a totally enjoyable read, enough to want to seek out other works from Mandy Magro, who I hadn’t heard of previously.

    My sincere thanks, Beauty and Lace, for another great Australian novel to read and review.

  5. Finished reading my copy of Driftwood. I read it in a couple of days as I didn’t want to put it down! I did re-read it before I wrote anything here. It was a very down to earth story with realistic scenarios, from the conflict in families with step parents and the child running away to follow their dream. The portrayal of the untypical small country town that opened their doors and hearts to a stranger was something I have not seen. There was a great mix of pub life, Station life and a cyclone thrown in. The build up to the end of the book was very predictable and I felt a little let down with the ending. Great cameo by Adam Brand, especially showing him as such a normal bloke. Overall a very enjoyable read and I am sharing my copy of the book with family and friends-even recommended it to another Australian female Author who I know. Thank you so much for involving me in this book review 🙂

  6. Driftwood is a great book that’s easy to get immersed in, and come back to later in the day to keep reading. I love those kinds of books where you just want to know what keeps happening. The cover of the book is so enticing; the characters are relatable which makes you enjoy the story even more. The Australian setting is fantastic also, you can just see it all in your imagination.

    The two differing times are also a great addition, makes the story interesting, although a little hard to follow the time jumps every now and then, but you get the hang of it. I also agree with other comments, that by reading Michelle’s review I wasn’t disappointed when I got to the large gap – if I had not seen that before I read the book I would just be left wondering if I had missing pages or something! But overall it’s a really easy, enjoyable book that you can sit back with a cup of tea and read through the weekend.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to review this great book!

  7. Thankyou so much B& L for the chance to read this book…this is now my 2nd book by Mandy Magro (the first being Flame Tree Hill – another winner) and they keep getting better.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this true Australian story, it was full of heart, sincerity, love, strength and everything the Aussie spirit entails.
    I loved how the story went between the different eras; starting in 1861 – 1920 and then the present day in 2012. Reading about Will and Anne back in the days of the Gold Rushes and Bush Rangers – it was informative and interesting to read…the love between Anne and Will was palpable and stood the test of time – a true love story. Their story ended up in Far North Queensland on a cattle property named Waratah Station, a lifelong dream of Will’s. I shed many tears towards the end of their story; with the miscarriage Anne suffered, onto the deaths of Anne and her younger daughter.
    And then to the present day story of Jay Donnellson, who lives on Waratah Station and is a descendant of Will’s. And a story about Taylor Whitworth, a girl who has always had a dream of living in the country and being a Jillaroo. She left home and drove, following her heart and ending up in Driftwood in Far North Queensland, a small country town where everyone knows everyone. Taylor and Jay meet and it is love at first sight but Jay has some obstacles to overcome emotionally….but he finds it very hard to feel anything other than love for this wild child who lives every day full of passion and a fiery spirit full of determination…what Taylor want she will fight for.
    A gorgeous story of the love that follows, the tragedy that follows with Cyclone Iva and a bit of Adam Brand thrown in for good measure.
    This was such an easy book to read, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be reading more from this beautiful writer.

  8. I really enjoyed getting carried away into the story line of this book, just reading the back cover had me interested.
    I loved the way it was written, you really got to know the characters, could really relate to Taylor, the way she gave up everything to follow her dreams of living in the country, even through the rough times and dramas she still managed to get where she wanted to go.
    I also loved how Mandy included a real life character into her book, something that I haven’t come acrosss before, the mixture of fiction and real life, quite unique.
    I found the writing was perfect when it came to the cylcone and all the details of destruction and the tragedy, really pulled at myheart strings.
    A great read, definitely recommended. thankyou!

  9. Driftwood was a fun, twisting romantic tale with an interesting NQ backdrop. I particularly enjoyed the modern and historic stories slowly unravelling leading to the inevitable-a good read!

  10. I enjoyed this wonderfully heartwarming book from beginning to end. I absolutely loved how the writer gave us an insight into the deep history of the Driftwood township and of the Donnellson farm, by doing alternative chapters from the 1800’s and then to today.
    So the story is about farmers and the trials and tribulations that they go through by making their living from the land.
    William Donnellson is seen as the bad boy cowboy in the late 1800’s, but he has been framed by a local police officer for killing a family, the Ballingers, which the police officer actually did do himself.
    Williams lady love owns the local pub and the police officer rules the town with an iron fist, which he thinks entitles him to have whoever he pleases, including Anne (williams lady love).
    William is left living a life of stealing from the rich (who have stolen from the poor) and giving back to the poor, but also on the run from the law.
    William finally gets a big heist from a ruthless rich man and the rich man gets what is given to him by his carriage driver, in the way of a bullet because he was going to shoot his own wife.
    William gives everyone a cut of the heist, including the farmers that it was stolen from. He then wants to go into town and get Anne so they can go up north and start their own cattle farm, where they can start a new life together.
    In the meantime the disgusting police officer has raped Anne and left her bruised and beaten. When William finds this out, he goes looking for the police officer to give him what for.
    A scuffle breaks out and William accidentally kills him, but not before Anne has managed to get the jewels that were stolen from the killed Ballinger family as proof that it was the police officer that killed them.
    William and Anne manage to escape to the far north of Queensland and make a wonderful life together where they get married and have children and grand children. Anne buries the jewels from the Ballinger family.
    They live long lives and stay happy and in love to the end.
    Back in the present day Taylor (an unhappy city chic), is told that her father died when she was a baby, and is living with her mother and her mean step-father. She always says that when she is old enough she will leave and find a farm where she can be a jillaroo, as this is what her heart desires.
    Taylor finally leaves and heads far north in Queensland, looking for work as a jillaroo. All she has is her faithful dog Boomerang and her trusty 4wd. Unfortunately she runs out of petrol and is left stranded in the middle of nowhere. Luckily for her Jay Donnellson, who has just come from the police station, for beating up a guy who was beating up a girl, happens to drive past and stops to offer her a lift.
    Jay drops her to the local pub where she finds work and later is asked to work on Jays farm.
    Jay is very attracted to Taylor but he has had his heart broken, he lost his dad, and his mum is drinking heavily, and it looks like he might lose his family farm.
    Taylor breathes fresh air into the farm and helps get Jays mum off the grog, and everything is going fine until a Cyclone (Iva) is forecast to hit Driftwood and is set to be the worst of its kind in history.
    With a few near deaths, and Jay being thrown into a hole from the ferocity of the cyclone, everyone seems to pull through.
    Jay finds the buried jewels, Taylor finds out her father is Tom the head helper on Jays farm, and that her mother had lied to her all these years.
    After everything settles down, Jay and Taylor fall in love and get married and have a baby on the way.
    Taylor forgives her mother, and after searching for any relatives of the Ballinger family jewels and coming up empty, Jay and Taylor donate $50,000 to the local pub and keep their farm from being taken.
    This was a very easy read and I didnt want to put it down, it kept me intrigued to the end.

  11. Thank you for the chance to review “Driftwood”.
    I found it an easy book to get straight into and found the story compelling and intriguing,I loved that the story was based in Queensland and was a typical Aussie story but had its ups and downs .
    Found it hard to put down once started to read it .I would recommend this and have passed it on to my family and friends to enjoy:)

  12. A romantic adventure of an Australian kind. A restless unhappy girl who is poised to study medicine, but wants a different life. One day she packs her bags and her beloved guitar, and accompanied by her dog Floyd takes off for the bush to follow her dream. She yearns to be a jillaroo; work with horses and on the land like her late father.
    The story unfolds as she meets a young farmer who gives her a lift into town. Her future has begun.

    A lovely story. Thank you a Beauty and Lace for your kind opportunity to review this book.
    Can recommend.

  13. I have enjoyed reading “Driftwood”. Although having a busy time of late we have had some lovely storm days where its been just perfect to sit down with this book and get lost in the story.
    I found the main character of Taylor to be very likeable.
    I enjoyed the jumps between the two different time frames although at the start i was a little confused as how this was all going to work in and the two time frames would meet.
    I found this to be an easy book to read.
    If you are taking a flight and want an easy book to read, one that doesnt require that you need total concentration to be able to follow the storyline then this is the book for you.

  14. Thank you got allowing me to read and review this book. I found myself absolutely immersed in it. It’s both historic and modern, which I found a bit confusing, in how it changed often from the 1800s to the 1900s and then modern time. But the relationships in the book are interesting. And each character has their own story to tell. Lots of love, sensuality, death, friendship, hope, and dreams. Definitely worth reading once you get over the time warp. A fantastic Australian novel and Mandy Margo, although I had never heard of her prior to this book, is clearly an amazing author.

  15. Thank you for the opportunity to read such an awe inspiring book such as Driftwood. I loved how it incorporated both past and modern eras to make compelling reading. Each and every character had a story to tell about their lives and how if effected them. I loved the romance and unrelenting love between William and Anne, a love that profoundly touched me and I’m sure all the other readers. It was a story of love and loss, something all of us has experienced some time in our lives. Mandy Magro is an author who really know how to bring her characters to life and I can’t wait to read her next novel.

  16. Thank you for the chance to review “Driftwood”.
    I found it an easy book to get straight into and found the story intriguing,I loved that the story was based in Queenslandnear where I reside and was a typical Aussie story but had its ups and downs . I loved the fact Taylor got to meet here Dad even though I guessed before it was revealed that Tom was her Dad it was great they came together, iteresting how the past touched the present and all was well in the end..
    I would recommend this and have passed it on to my family and friends to enjoy.

    Thank you agian Michelle

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