Book Club: If Wishes Were Horses

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Author: Karly Lane
ISBN: 978-1-76029-183-9
RRP: $29.99

I am a big fan of Karly Lane’s writing style and storytelling abilities, since discovering her back in 2012 I have tried to keep up with all of her new releases but with so many great books being released it’s not always possible. I do have her on my wishlist for when I have time, one day I want to catch up on all of the ones I have missed. I’m doing okay, I’ve read more than I’ve missed.

When I finished this book at bedtime last night I had so many things to say about it but this morning I’m not sure where to start. I follow Lane on Facebook, both her personal and author pages, so it’s no surprise to me that she has a pretty intense love of horses; which means I was not surprised by the role of horses in this book. At the same time, the title kind of indicates that horses may play a large role in the story.

Let’s start with the horses then. Lane has done some fabulous research about the wild horses of the Guy Fawkes National Park and their ties to the horses that were used in the Boer War and The First World War. This historical aspect of the story was fascinating, and at times terribly sad. Horses are a majestic animal that hold a special place in the hearts of horse lovers; they really do become much more than just a pet or a working animal, they become friends, they become family. Yet to those who don’t share that love they can be an unnecessary expense in times of drought and the brumbies are viewed as a pest.

Horses are used as therapy animals and though that’s not how the horses fit into this story you could certainly see the effect they had on Lane’s characters.

Sophie Bryant is a paramedic with a mild case of PTSD, not only is she grieving the loss of her husband but she is also recovering from a near fatal injury inflicted in the line of duty at a domestic dispute. Her method of coping is to throw herself back into work but this time it wasn’t going to work, and it could endanger others. On the advice of her boss and mentor she takes up a role in a small rural town that is in need of a full-time paramedic.

Hilsons Ridge banded together as a community and fought to keep their ambulance station open when the health department wanted to close it down and centralise services to larger townships, all over an hour away. The community passionately believed they needed their station to give patients the best possible chance in the event of an emergency. Sophie takes on the position as a temporary break from the fast-paced life of a paramedic in Sydney hoping it will help her reconnect with the love she had for her job before her injury.

The peace and tranquility of the small town and tight knit community help Sophie to recover from the grief and trauma of her recent past. A rundown old house on the outskirts of town calls to her and no-one is more surprised than Sophie when she decides to buy the property on the spur of the moment.

Sophie has never really been one for spur of the moment decisions and she never thought she would be happy in a small quiet town, she’s a city girl who thrives on the fast pace. But she can’t deny that things start to feel right when she arrives in Hilsons Ridge. Soon after moving into her new house she discovers a brumby on the property but it’s quite shy and won’t let her get too close; until it gets injured and comes to her for help.

Life for a rural paramedic isn’t as quiet as Sophie was expecting but there was certainly a difference in the type of callout but Lane explores the differences and the similarities with sensitivity and insight. The Hilsons Ridge team has been running on just volunteers for three months and we learn why people join the volunteer ambulance service and how they manage to work it in with their everyday lives. In a rural setting the ambulance can be the first one on scene and back up isn’t as easy to call in as it is in the city. Lane has painted an admirable picture of both volunteer ambulance officers and paramedics, and certainly made me appreciate the job and the sacrifices these people make a little more.

The property that Sophie buys belonged to a lonely military veteran whose only family live overseas so the house was never emptied out completely. Sophie comes across a military trunk when emptying out the shed, it doesn’t belong to the previous owner but an earlier ancestor. The trunk holds his uniform and his journal, a document offering an insight into the life our First World War veterans lived. I loved the historical element and the way that Lane tied the past into the present.

Sophie headed to Hilsons Ridge for a healing break but she found a home that she didn’t know she was looking for, and a healing that she wasn’t ever expecting.

If Wishes Were Horses is a completely engrossing read that offered elements of romance, history and an otherworldly charm.

If Wishes Were Horses is book #23 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Karly Lane loves to hear from her readers, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and her Website.

If Wishes Were Horses is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading If Wishes Were Horses so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

10 thoughts on “Book Club: If Wishes Were Horses

  1. I so enjoyed “If Wishes Were Horses” by Karla Lane. Being from around the region this book was set in and having a grandfather who was a Lighthorseman who spent time in Egypt this book was very special.
    Sophie has overcome some tragities in her young life and a move to be the paramedic in a small rural town was meant to be a small part in getting her life back and then moving back to the city. A chance encounter with a house that gave her the
    peaceful feeling she’d been searching for bought her to finding a diary written by a Lighthorseman that had spent years in “hell” fighting the 1st WW..
    Reading these diaries and eventually finding firm friends through her work and the
    town community Sophie felt like a local.. In the house and property she now called home she was surprised and delighted to see a wild horse who often a little reluctant to be engaged with her became a friend after being injured and being treated by the handsome Vet . Zac having had his own problems carried a heap of baggage into the relationship he now shared with Sophie and the communications between Sophie, Zac , the whole family of the township, and lastly the tender care and affection she received from the wild horse., made this book a very entertaining read and I was sorry to turn the last page so quickly.

  2. I haven’t enjoyed a book more than “If Wishes Were Horses” for ages. Karly Lane is a new author to me but I will definitely seek out her other works. I love reading Australian authors and when they choose to set the novel in a relatively remote Australian town and deal with real characters that is wonderful. Even more wonderful is when history is woven into the story.

    Retelling the story is unnecessary and likely to spoil the reading for others and Michelle has given sufficient insight without me needing to add anything in that area. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for anyone who loves Australian literature and country Australia. The developing romance between Sophie and Zac, who have both lost their partners through tragedy, is beautifully handled.

    I absolutely loved the way the story developed, the sensitivity with which it was written and the way Karly Lane wove history into the book. The diary that Sophie found of a Lighthorse Soldier giving an insight into life in The First World War is fascinating and enlightening reading. The beautiful way the historical characters and the present day characters are woven into the story is magical.

    There is nothing forced or unreal about this book. The development of the relationships between all the characters is excellent, the way the story flows is flawless and the insight given into all the aspects of the story is truly meaningful.

    Thank you so much, Beauty and Lace and Allen and Unwin for the opportunity to read this beautiful book. Thank you for introducing me to Karly Lane. I’ve added another favourite author to my fairly selective list and look forward to reading Karly’s other works. This was, without any doubt, a wonderfully satisfying and beautiful book.

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to read If Wishes Were Horses by Karly Lane.

    I enjoyed all aspects of this book – attention to detail, romance, history and Outback life.

    Sophie is a paramedic recommended to move to a country posting after some incidents in the City. She will be the only permanent staff member working with the town’s volunteers. I loved the telling of why she moved, how she ended up where she did and the choosing of where she was going to live.

    When she finds somewhere permanent she finds an old journal from the First World War which is told in amazing detail and gives an insight into the hardships and the intense relationship between rider and horse. Many images were conjured up – very sad, but fascinating.

    Sophie also has an issue with a horse on her property and calls out the local vet. A budding romance ensues with complications from previous relationships playing a part. This was all handled really well and made for easy and enjoyable reading. I also liked the side characters who were mentioned just enough to be believable and genuine.

    Thanks again – this book will appeal to history buffs, nature lovers, romantics and fans of great Australian writing.

  4. I loved Karly Lane’s new novel ‘if wishes were horses’
    The novel touches heartbreak, loss and facing demons while still finding love.
    In true Karly Lane style she includes history with a hero from the war. Bringing two worlds together.
    It’s hard to explain how the novel can combine so many stories of the present and the past in one uncomplicated story, I suggest reading this book t see for yourself.
    It is a easy read, that will give you tears but make you lough out loud.
    Thanks again beauty and lace allen and unwin karly lane for the chance to review this novel

  5. If Wishes were Horses by Karly Lane

    This is another great read, thanks Beauty & Lace Bookclub for selecting such good books.

    Paramedic Sophie has faced some major trials in her life, and decides to move away from the city to the country for a healing break, and a slower pace of working life. But being the only paramedic to lead a wonderful team of volunteers to man the ambulance station in a small rural town proves to be more demanding than she thought. Accidents in a rural community are a reality, and the story deals with this well.

    Sophie settles into Hilsons Ridge, and surprises everyone, including herself, by buying a farm property. She enjoys cleaning up the old house on it, which has been deserted for a while. She finds an old trunk which contains a First World War uniform and a diary written by a Digger. I loved this part of the story, and learned a lot about horses that were sent overseas from Australia to war zones.

    Sophie blends in to the community well, and visits some of her patients when they return home. One encounter leads her to meet with Zac, the local Vet. Both Sophie and Zac are recovering from pain from past relationships, but the two of them feel sparks whenever they meet. Can they move past prior hurts and make a go of a relationship together?

    This was a very enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it.

    Thank you to Allen & Unwin books, and to Beauty and Lace Book Club for allowing g me to read and review this great story.

  6. I absolutely loved this book. The characters were very easy to relate to and believable. I especially loved the back story of the horse tying in with the family who owned the house Sophie bought on a gut feeling.

    Life has thrown Sophie some real tough situations for such a young age but it has made her stronger and is reliable under pressure. Zac as a vet is the perfect partner for her as they both can understand their jobs and the pressure they are under. But life gets in the way and due to previous issues for both, misunderstanding happens which can threaten their future.

    Wonderfully written and a great flow throughout, I couldn’t believe it when I was at the end, I didn’t want the story to finish.

    I look forward tot he next book by Karly lane. Thank you for the opportunity to read If wishes were horses!

  7. “If Wishes were Horses” by Karly Lane.

    The main character of this captivating story is Sophie Bryant who is coming to terms with the tragic death of her husband but also is struggling herself as she nearly lost her own life while attending a domestic dispute as a paramedic. Following this Sophie is struggling with post traumatic stress disorder. When a position for a paramedic comes available in Hilson’s Ridge a remote township Sophie decides to accept the posting not knowing what the future will hold for her. But the change from the fast paced city life is what beckons her to this town and hopefully she will find her true self again.

    After arriving in Hilson’s Ridge and being drawn to an old house Sophie decides on the spur of the moment to purchase it. When cleaning out the shed she discovers the diary of a trooper from the First World War which she really finds captivating and wants to find out more about.

    As Sophie settles into Hislon’s Ridge and gets to know the locals she meets local vet, Zac Conway who also is struggling as he has lost his partner so as time goes on and their paths cross they are both surprised to feel emotions they both thought they would ever experience again.

    As Sophie recovers from past events in her life she realises that things all happen for the right reasons and life does go on.

    This book is full of romance and history and the author Karly Lane certainly had me captivated in the story from the beginning to the end.

    Thanks to Allen and Unwin and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this book.

  8. This book wasn’t what I was expecting. Somewhere in my head, I thought it was going to be more of a history book with Sophie discovering more and more information about Clarrie, but it wasn’t like that. Having said that it wasn’t what I expected didn’t make it disappointing though and I really enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her relationship with Cobber and would have loved to read about it in more detail. For me, it was just enough detail on the war part as I don’t like reading those types of stories, but the information in this book was relevant and really added to the story.

    I love reading stories that are set in Australia, when even if you haven’t been to the places that are mentioned, you can imagine what they are like and that you are there living the story with the characters. Having just been in some of the South Australian countryside, I was finding it very easy to picture Sophie’s remote property, but would have loved some pictures!

    Thank you Beauty and Lace for another great book to review >:o)

  9. Thank you for the opportunity to read If Wishes Were Horses by Karly Lane. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
    Following Sophie’s life after the loss of her husband and the trauma she went through was interesting. She is a strong character which in turn makes her spontaneously purchase a farmhouse in the outback and live there as the towns paramedic. She meets the local vet, who is also a widow, and their paths cross numerous times under strange consequences although they both understand each others a circumstances they both struggle to have a relationship.
    I was sad when this book ended as I really did enjoy it.

  10. Thanks to Allen and Unwin and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this charming book. A lovely story of history and romance intertwined in a warm, rural community. However, I just wish there was more depth into the history of the Lighthorse and it’s part in the war.

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