Book Club: Lyrebird Hill

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Author: Anna Romer
ISBN: 978-19-220-5242-1
RRP: $29.99

Lyrebird Hill is a story of the distant past and the recent past converging with the present. Written across two very different timelines Romer brings together the stories of Brenna and Ruby, two women who share a connection with the property of Lyrebird Hill.

Romer has written two distinct timelines and two leading ladies, both of whom grew up on Lyrebird Hill. I don’t want to say too much because there is a large element of mystery to the story and I would hate to ruin it for anyone.

The property of Lyrebird Hill has been passed down through the generations for over 100 years and it is still complete, even through drought and rough years none of the land has been sold off to help out.

In the 1800s there was an indigenous clan living on the land of Lyrebird Hill and there were some very mixed feelings about them being there. Brenna’s father wants to keep his land intact in an effort to keep the clan safe. Brenna spends lots of time with the clan, learning about all of the plants and herbs on the land and what they can be used for. Information which she keeps stored in a beautifully self-illustrated notebook that is never far from her side.

A bad crop sees Michael Magavin in dire straits financially and still determined not to sell off any of the land. In the end an associate offers a proposal which will keep Lyrebird Hill safe, it just means Brenna must marry him and move to Tasmania until she bears him a son. An arrangement which made my skin crawl but I am from a very different time. Rather than risk losing the family land that she loves Brenna agrees to the proposal, not unhappily either because she has been quite intrigued by Mr Whitby. It will be quite a transition for her to leave Lyrebird Hill and the Armidale area behind to move to Tasmania but she feels it is a necessary sacrifice for the safety of the family’s legacy.

Brenna soon comes to see a very different side of Mr Whitby once they are married and her time in Tasmania is quite lonely until she forms a very close friendship with Whitby’s sister Adele.

 lyrebird-hill

Alternating chapters focus on Ruby Cardel a young woman who spent much of her childhood at Lyrebird Hill, sometime after the tragic loss of her older sister Ruby and her mother moved into Armidale and the property was sold to a neighbor. The day Jamie died remains a mystery, whatever happened is locked away in Ruby’s mind – she has blocked out a year of her life and believes that it was all a tragic accident.

What will happen when she discovers that it wasn’t an accident? Slowly her life begins to come apart at the seams and glimpses of the past start returning.

Ruby is a beautifully drawn character, she incites such empathy even though there are times her insecurities make her a little painful to watch.

The story opens with her heading to an exhibition opening with her boyfriend. He is a well-known and gorgeous author who leaves her wondering, on a regular basis, why her? He could have anyone so why her. This is quite a common thought for a lot of people in relationships but it’s something Ruby really seems to struggle with.

Right from the beginning Rob seems not quite right for her. He is patronizing and just brushes away her fears. He doesn’t address them so they can work through them, just tries to brush them off with snippets from his books.

Ruby heads back home to Lyrebird Hill to find out what she can from the elderly neighbor who bought the property but things don’t quite go to plan.

The door that has been firmly bolted in her memory was unlocked when she studied her mum’s paintings at the exhibition but it isn’t until she returns home that the flow of memories starts to gain momentum.

Ruby’s story is told in present and past tense and the transition is quite rapid, one minute she’s in the present and going about her day and then she slips into the daydream of a returning memory and takes us with her.

Romer has woven the threads of this tale together remarkably well, even through three timelines the story never lacks cohesion and the flow is quite intense as it all moves towards the climactic coming together of all threads.

Lyrebird Hill is a story I love because it has elements of many genres and the central character is a booklover who ran away from home to open a bookstore – what a heavenly idea that is to me. The mystery woven into the history of both women is gripping and there were some fabulous twists in the story. There was a little romance and there was a side of history we often don’t get.

The way there were a couple of things that tied all of the threads so nicely together was convincingly done and even now as I sit and write this I am still connecting dots and putting pieces together, long after I closed the book.

Anna Romer is definitely batting 2 for 2 and I, personally, can’t wait to see what’s in store for us with number 3.

Some of our very lucky book club readers will also be reading Lyrebird Hill and I can not wait to hear what they have to say about it. Don’t forget to check back here for their thoughts.

They will also each have a question for Anna Romer in their comments and the best ones will be compiled for an upcoming author interview with Romer herself. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

51 thoughts on “Book Club: Lyrebird Hill

  1. I just finished reading Lyrebird Hill and found it enjoyable.
    I loved the character of Ruby; I’ve always dreamed of owning a bookstore as she did in the book, and I really felt for her as she dealt with her struggles of figuring out what had happened to her sister.
    I also liked how there was the underlying story about Brenna, although at times, particularly in the beginning of the novel, I was a little thrown as at the beginning of each chapter it was either Brenna or Ruby’s chapter and I found myself having to get into that character’s story again. Having said that, the story did flow nicely though as it weaved through each woman’s tale.
    There were a few niggling little things that didn’t add for me; I don’t want to write them here as it may be seen as a spoiler for those who haven’t read the book yet, but I’ll just say that Ruby not recognising certain characters wasn’t very convincing.
    I loved the descriptions of the outback, it really envoked a sense of our beautiful land.
    The female characters (Brenna, Ruby, Adele, Jamie) were all really great in their own ways – I loved how each had struggles whether it was back in the late 1800’s or present day.
    Also I’d like to mention that the cover of the book is beautiful. The two girls holding hands, for me, captures the special bond that sisters share.
    I’d recommend this book to those who love stories of family secrets, and love strong female characters.
    It is an entertaining read!

    I know the author, Anna Romer lives on a property in the outback, and my question to her would be: How long has she lived on a remote property, and what are some of the things she had to learn about living in rural Australia?

  2. Initially on starting Lyre Bird Hill I thought it was far too complex, but I quickly got drawn in by both characters and their stories. I loved how both were interwoven and ended up linked with each other.

    The mix of old and new, romance and mystery made for an enjoyable read, and once I started I could not put the book down and ended up finishing it in two days. So disappointed now I have to find another one!

    Whilst I did enjoy this book, and would recommend it, I felt that some of the secondary characters were not that developed, and felt it would have only enhanced the story had they been. I felt that Ruby and Brenna both had a very lonely journey, but perhaps this feeling was intended.

    I also enjoyed the relationship with Brenna and Lucien, however, once again this could have been built up more.

    Overall a great story with strong female characters, and a delightful twist that kept me guessing the whole way through.

    Question: What gave you the inspiration for this story?

  3. Thank you so much to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to guzzle up this book. I don’t often get an opportunity to stop and read a book, and I loved every minute of it.

    This is definitely a book to read in one or two sittings. I tried fitting it in to my work commitments on the first couple of days and found myself losing the thread of the story. Anne Romer is very skilful at managing each shift between the past and the present with a few deft sentences to remind us of what happened, but there were still bits where I had to go back and check what was being referred to. For example, Esther’s off-hand remark about a book didn’t register with me on the first reading. Yet it became highly significant later in the narrative. I found myself going back over previous pages to try and find missing pieces. This was not unpleasurable, but it did interrupt the flow of the story.

    I loved both the main characters – Brenna and Ruby. They were strong but vulnerably human women who led very difficult lives. I loved the coincidences between the two stories – men with scars, artistic talents, abusive socially-acceptable men contrasted with mis-fitting empathic men, and so on. I also lapped up the descriptions of the Australian countryside. I’m a city slicker so, although I have had lots of holidays in country areas, these rich descriptions were fresh and enjoyable for me.

    The story of the murders and how they came about was genuinely unpredictable until I had read about two thirds of the book. After that, it was just a matter of filling in the details.

    The only part I found a bit hard to accept was the split between good guys and bad guys. In this book, the “bad” men turned out to be truly evil and the “good” men were unfailingly warm and generous. While the “appearances can be deceptive” message rang true, I had to really work at becoming engrossed in any of the male characters. They seemed to be nothing but props for the storyline. In contrast, the characters of the women were much better developed. But since this book was written from the perspective of women it is not surprising. At this level, I think the book would be less appealing to men than to women. I’d be interested to see any reviews from men to see if my gut-feeling holds true.

    The other very small bit that didn’t ring true was that Bobby told his mother he had taken the locket. Why would he do so when it was crucial to getting rid of Wolf back to the boy’s home? And why would he do so when the locket was not in his possession so he couldn’t return it. That bit didn’t make sense at all. Perhaps someone else told Doreen (e.g. Jaimie) but it wasn’t made explicit. Or perhaps Bobby was lying about his mother wanting the locket back. Again, it wasn’t made explicit.

    As for my question to Anne Romer, it has to do with a thread in the story that I either missed or didn’t understand. And yet it was crucial to a turn in the narrative. Towards the end of her life, Brenna gave her locket to her neighbour Doreen Drake. Why would she do this? Although the locket had many dreadful memories for her, it also contained a picture of the person she had believed to be her mother for most of her youth. A kind and warm-hearted woman, who was cherished by Brenna regardless of her later discoveries. A woman who she acknowledges shaped her personality as much as her genes and early family. It doesn’t ring true that she would part with the locket, much less the picture. I also could find no explanation as to why she would give this locket (which she had kept all her adult life) to a neighbour, rather than give it to her daughter-in-law. Most crucially, I couldn’t find any explanation as to why Doreen cherished the locket. Because much of the final revelation hinged on this, it would have been nice to be told. Perhaps I missed it, but I could find no explanation of the bond between Doreen and Brenna.

    Thank you once again for the opportunity to review this book.

  4. Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer is one of those un-put-down-able books that really draws you in right from the start. It’s a haunting family saga, set against the backdrop of a harsh Australian landscape, and tied together by two separate narratives set decades apart but cleverly intertwined by the tragedies, guilt, suspicion, family secrets and forbidden love that has beset them. Is this the family legacy?

    On the one hand Lyrebird Hill is the story of modern day Ruby, who has lost her memory of the fateful circumstances surrounding the death of her beloved sister and childhood companion Jamie. A carefree childhood with two little girls running through the long grass and scrambling over river rocks was tragically cut short and now despite many years passing, an adult Ruby is still haunted by her sister’s death. So, when her mother finally admits that Jamie’s death on the riverbanks near their family home at Lyrebird Hill was suspicious, it is with some dread and considerable guilt that Ruby returns to her childhood home in the hope of understanding why her mind has protected her from remembering… It is while she is back at Lyrebird Hill that Ruby gradually realizes that not only was Jamie’s death not an accident but that others have actively kept her from the truth… the suspicions and secrets that then unfold, and Ruby’s gradual piecing together of all her glimmers of memory is skillfully crafted and leads to a gripping and clever conclusion!

    Juxtaposed against this is the story of Ruby’s ancestor Brenna who lived at Lyrebird Hill with her father and young foster brother in the 1890’s when it was a sprawling property and was also home to an aboriginal tribe for whom Brenna and her father have a strong affinity. Brenna’s love of the land and the Aboriginal people is made evident through Brenna’s fascination with sketching and painting her natural environment, and understanding bush medicine. But like Ruby Brenna is wrenched from her innocent enjoyments at Lyrebird Hill, when her family is faced with financial ruin. To save Lyrebird Hill and to secure a future for those that live there, Brenna agrees to marry a rich family friend who will clear their debts. But as in Ruby’s story all is not as it seems, and against a background of violence, murder and treachery, Brenna lives to regret her decision and the repercussions it has on her family…

    Lyrebird Hill is a thoroughly engrossing and deeply poignant story of dark family secrets. It is a story of mystery, discovery and terrible tragedy, and it kept me in its thrall until the very end. I can’t wait to read more from Anna Romer (a great new Australian writing discovery).

    If I could ask the author one question it would be where she gets the inspiration for her depiction of such strong female characters? From history? Her own family? Both Ruby and Brenna are such well-rounded characters described with all normal human frailties but with such guts and feistiness.

  5. I loved this book! The female characters were strong and inspiring through all the challenges and hardships faced they still remained true to themselves.

    I loved the shift between the past and what was happening in the present and the author easily made this transition. I loved the fact that whilst it could be put down and picked up without loosing track of what was happening, you didnt want to.

    I actually committed the mortal sin of switching the TV on for the kids so I could run away to my room to finish the book! Terrible I know but I just needed to know what happened next!

    Great summer time read!

  6. Lyrebird Hill lived up to my expectations and more. I loved It! One of the best books I have read for some time. In my email asking to review, part of my explanation was that I wanted a book that would surprise me and be intriguing and Lyrebird Hill surely did that. I could not predict what was going to happen apart from one thing and that was that the property was going to be left to Ruby.

    I initially intend to read this book while travelling away for the weekend, but ended up receiving on the Wednesday, needless to say I finished an hour into our trip on Friday! I could not put it down.

    I would recommend this book to everyone to read and I look forward to reading Thornwood House, hoping it would be just as great.

    My question to Anna is the only thing that puzzled me when I finished the book. Why would Brenna leave her young neighbour the locket? Is there another twist to this story that is yet untold?

    Thank you for sending me this book, it was my pleasure to read it!

    Katrina

  7. What a fantastic book! It is written with such detailed descriptions I felt like I could see, hear and smell everything that was there! This book has it all – murder, mystery, history, secrets and forbidden love!

    It has three timelines really, one set in the 1800’s and one in 2013 but with regular flashbacks to childhood memories in the 90’s, the stories revolve around two strong women whom have both grown up on the property Lyrebird Hill and have had to move away against their wishes. Often in books with two story lines I like reading one more than the other but I loved both in this book equally.

    In the 1800’s Brenna is forced into a marriage with an older man to save her family’s beloved property. There are painful secrets learnt about her heritage and what happened to her family. Then her husband shows his true colours once he has her trapped in marriage. At times it is very depressing but there are always lovely bright spots to lighten the heart like her wonderful friendship with her new sister-in-law and her forbidden love for another.

    In 2013 Ruby is a bookworm who owns her own book store, lives in a lovely seaside cottage and has a handsome and successful boyfriend of 3 years. She has a whole year of her memory missing from when her older sister Jaime died in an accident when she was 12. Due to a chance meeting with an old neighbour who tells her that Jaime’s death wasn’t an accident her life starts to unravel and her memories start to drift back.

    I love the way the two stories fit together and I love twists in a story and this one had a few!!

    My question to the author is: What happened to Pete in the years from when he was sent to Newcastle and how did he end up with the farm next door?

    Thanks for the opportunity to read and review this book and I’m looking forward to buying and reading Anna’s first book Thornwood House.

  8. Thank you for letting me read and review Lyrebird Hill.

    I enjoyed how the scenic imagery pulled me into the story for both modern day Ruby and 1800’s Brenna. Once I was entranced it only took the story to unfold in front of me.

    Ruby was fairly solitary for a modern day girl, but I think the childhood tragedy of her sister dying in mysterious circumstances set her up this way. I enjoyed her trip back to her childhood home and how it helped unlock secrets from the past, and make plans for her future. I was glad she would be able to work through her past as it affected a lot of her life.

    Brenna seemed to be at her best in the brilliance of nature especially with the Aboriginals who live on the property, and the loving arms of her family. She was quick to help her father keep their farm by agreeing to marry a richer family friend. This led her to somewhere different geographically and eventually in spirit also. She made amazing friends, but her worst enemy was her husband. A chain of events led to a catastrophe which would affect future generations.

    These two stories were intertwined by a series of letters, and it was great to unravel the story bit by bit. Most of it was a mystery to me, as it should be, and I loved the way it came together.

    My question for Anna Romer is – was Ruby or Brenna the easiest to connect with, and why?

  9. Could not put the book down!! Was a wonderful read and soooo very happy that I was on this book club trial!!

    Was riveted from the start and loved both the worlds, Rubys in the present day as well as Brenna in the Australia gone by. I would get so caught up with either Ruby’s story or Brenna that I felt almost a physical wrench to shuttle between the two periods in time!! Till they both meet in the present and help solve and complete the story. Really happy that both Ruby and Brenna got a happy ending inspite of hardships. Do wish Brenna had more happiness in her life and would like to think that she did as feel she did not have enough time with Lucien at all.

    Cannot wait to read other books by Anna Romer as truly loved the richness and depth to her chracters and the fast pace of the story right to the end.

    My question for Anna- Why did you not elaborate more on the lyrebird and perhaps have an encounter with the bird for either of the characters in some way to make it more significant to the story. The silver lyrebird locket did not really belong to Brenna would have liked either Anna or her to actually have something to do with the lyrebird. I have seen one(at the zoo!) they are certainly beautiful!

    1. A big thank you to Beauty & Lace/Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to receive a new book!

      “Lyrebird Hill” by Anna Romer is a beautiful book. The cover is very inviting and it is a good read.

      I particularly love the fact that the story is set between Armidale/Coffs/Sawtell as I live in Armidale. The description of Rob’s apartment and the scenery of the Jetty and Muttonbird Island had me picturing the area, as we have often had holidays in Coffs Harbour. The descriptions of the bushland and the wildflowers had an authentic feel and takes one back to actually walking in the bush.

      I love the historical story surrounding Brenna and her family. It would not have been easy for white settlers and Aborigines to form lasting friendships.

      Family relationships are not always as they seem and this is portrayed between Ruby and her mother.

      The question of “will she/won’t she?” and “did he/didn’t he?” make for great reading.

      The Rob Thistleton quotes at the start of chapters are very fitting.

      I am obsessed with murder mysteries and this book has shown a different style of this. “Lyrebird Hill” is a more gentle read, yet still has the reader perched, waiting to see what will happen.

      My question to Anna Romer is: “Was the story of Brenna and her tribe taken from any real life experiences you have had with Aborigines?”

  10. I loved this book. A story of two very different and very strong women at different points in history. Ruby who is still struggling with the death of her sister when they were young and Breena who has left her home and family to marry a man she doesn’t really know.
    Both stories had me enraptured and I read the entire book in a day. Would highly recommend this novel.
    My question for Anna Romer would be about Breena’s locket. I guess it confused me why her locket was left with her neighbor and didn’t stay in the family? Perhaps I missed something?

  11. As if Ruby doesn’t have enough to contend with after the death of her older sister and at times best friend, once her amnesia begins to dim, she has to face the daunting possibility that she may have killed her sister, Jamie.
    The always slightly fractured relationship with her mother becomes almost non existent when Ruby leaves home to start life on her own.

    I absolutely LOVED Lyrebird Hill – right from the first page – I didn’t want it to finish as I was enjoying it so much, but I was happy with the ending. I love books, especially those by Australian authors who do justice to the Australian bush and the authors themselves. Anna Romer didn’t disappoint in any way.

    I loved the two distinct but related story lines of Brenna and Ruby, totally unrelated on the surface but interwoven deeply in reality. I loved the treatment of the Australian bush so that I could smell the gum leaves. I loved that the book didn’t ever become syrupy or unrealistic. I’m finding a review of the content very difficult as. like Michelle, the last thing I want to do is reveal any of the twists and turns that make up the story.

    As the gaps in Ruby’s memory return she is at once in more danger than she realises and also in the process of “finding herself.” The way Ruby recovers her memory, an entire year blocked from her mind after the trauma of being there when Jamie died, is done with mystery, sympathy, understanding and magic. This is a special book that will long hold a place of magic for me – now to find Thornwood House, Anna’s first novel, and read that.

    I would ask Anna whether she has always had stories going around in her head, from when she was young and did she write those stories down as a child. If so, as I suspect she did, how much has changed in the way she approaches her work.

    A fantastic opportunity and a big Thank You – to Beauty and Lace – I loved the book – to Simon and Schuster for releasing such a great Australian novel and above all, to Anna Romer for writing the kind of book that I love reading.

  12. Wow, what a privledge to be able to read this book and comment on it.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn’t see the twist coming.. Which is great because I am one of those annoying people that can normally guess the ending..
    I would recommend this book to anyone – I am a historical fiction fan and this book ticked that box but it was so much more.
    I would be curious to ask the author which of the characters appealed the most to her.. I personally found I had more of a connection with Brenna however as the book wound on and Ruby found herself and her strength (rather than being down on herself so much) she began to appeal more and by the end I loved both characters equally.
    Definitely worth a read – but make sure you don’t get interrupted as it’s a book you won’t want to put down!

  13. Lyrebird Hill lived up to my expectations! I adore Australian Historical Novels. I love the way the story of the two main characters-Brenna and Ruby are intertwined through the centuries and I certainly had no problems following the descriptions of their lives, loves, tradgedies and their unending love for the land.
    Anna Romer showed her thorough research on the Australian Bush, animals and the difference of the harsh 1800’s lifestyle and modern day living and the reprecussions of the Settlers interaction and Genocide of the Indigenous.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and had a well planned idea of reading this on my days off work. I couldn’t wait until then. It isn’t often I do highly recommend a book but this is one of the few I highly recommend.
    My Question to Anna Romer would be about future novels:
    ‘Are you going to delve deeper into the dilemma of your characters admitting to having Aboriginal Bloodlines and the repercussions this has had in the past?

  14. I was very much looking forward to reading Lyrebird Hill as a change to the usual Crime/Psychological thrillers I like to read. Initially I was a little unsure about swapping between characters but I soon found I was eagerly awaiting the next instalment for both Ruby and Brenna, and found that I could relate to both characters, making the story even more intriguing.

    Once I got a few chapters in, I was unable to put this book down until I had finished, and at the end was left with that
    “good book hangover” feeling – wishing it had not ended, and wanting more.

    Being Tasmanian, I loved that link and also the many descriptions that made me feel like I was reading a familiar story.

    I have passed this book on to my Mother who also loves to read, and will share it among other family and friends who have asked since hearing me recommend it.

    *My question to Anna Romer is do you have your own links to Tasmania? The way you write makes me feel like you do, and that this is special place for you too.

  15. I literally just finished reading Lyrebird Hill and I thought it was absolutely fabulous. What an absolutely wonderful and different storyline. It had a bit of everything in it, love, hate, happiness and sadness. In some moments it brought up so much emotion in me, so much despair for Brennan and all of the unjust things that were happening to her and also for Ruby and her complications in life. It was like reading 2 absolutely gripping stories in one. I found myself so keen to find out what was happening next, I was skipping words to find out what was about to happen. I’m not usually into stories from the 1800s but these parts of the book were so well written without any of the usual boring descriptions. The fact the book has the Aussie descriptions and scenes really made me feel like I could imagine the smells, sounds, wildlife etc. This book was sooo hard to put down. LOVED IT!

  16. Oh, and my question for the author is, Were there any characters in the book that were based, even slightly, on people in your real life?

  17. I found this novel to be very enjoyable and once started very difficult to put down, hence I completed reading it in just 2 sittings.
    Anna Romer very skillfully brought together the stories of 2 women Brenna in 1898/99 and Ruby in 2013 with flashbacks to the tragic death of her sister Jamie in 1995.
    Brenna and Ruby were greatgrandmother and greatgranddaughter.
    Brenna’s father Michael was in financial difficulty and the Bank had given him 30 days to pay them or lose the property Lyrebird Hill. His friend Carsten Whitby offered to pay the money owing to the Bank if Brenna would agree to marry him and bear him a son. Carsten was twice her age, but in order to save the property she agreed to his proposal. After their marriage they left Lyrebird Hill and travelled to Carsten’s home Brayer House in Tasmania, which he shared with his sister Adele. Brenna and Adele became good friends, but unfortunately Carsten was not a good husband and she very soon came to hate him.
    Brenna was imprisoned for the murder of her husband, but thanks to a cunning scheme by Adele was able to flee the prison and return to Lyrebird Hill.
    Ruby was unable to remember the fateful day when her sister Jamie died it was totally blocked from her memory. Her and her mother Margaret left Lyrebird Hill after Jamie’s death and became estranged.
    Ruby started having flashbacks, but it was only when she returned to Lyrebird Hill that she finally was able to put all the pieces together and discover the truth of what happened to Jamie and also discover the story of the life of her late greatgrandmother.
    I most definitely would recommend this book.
    I am very grateful to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel.

  18. This book is another great read from Anna Romer. She is turning out to be a very interesting author
    .I am midway through this wonderful book and am having trouble ‘putting it down’, the female characters are displaying such strength and I will give my final review in the next couple of days

  19. thankyou for the opportunity to review Lyrebird Hill!
    I was instantly drawn in and I loved reading both sides of the story.
    Both Ruby and Brenna are amazing strong willed women.

    What was the inspiration behind the book Lyrebird Hill??

  20. Anna Romer has a magical way with words. From the very beginning this book hooked me in and made me never want to put it down.
    I’m a visual reader and found the way Anna describes a scene made it so real in my mind. I could almost feel like I was there in the place as she wrote about it and I could almost smell the flowers I was reading about.
    The story of Ruby was a wonderful story full of love, loss, relationships and dreams.
    I liked that there was a not so functional mother/daughter relationship which helped to show Ruby’s personality and memories.
    The twist in Ruby’s story is one that I never worked out and I liked that I never thought to look there. (Don’t want to give anything away)
    Brenna’s story was woven into Ruby’s story and in such a magical way they combined wonderfully. There was never a time when one story over ran the other and both travelled through evenly which made for magical reading.
    The story makes you realise how truly amazing and powerful the mind is and how sights and smells can throw us back into a memory in an amazing way.
    As we read about Brenna’s life we are taken on an amazing journey from the Australian countryside and bush life to a new not so happy life in Tasmania.
    Brenna’s relationship with Jindera and Mee Mee was such a delight to read and yet in the end that whole side story showed how harsh and cruel mankind can be.
    I genuinely did not want this book to end and when I was finished I gave it a hug and knew that this book would stay with me a long time.

    My question for Anna is:
    You wrote that you read the letters to your Grandmother from a World War 2 pilot. Did this make you delve more into your family history and uncover some of your own ‘family secrets’?
    Can I have a lifetime subscription to your novels please they are like little dances of words on paper.
    Thank you so very much for the chance to read such a wonderful novel.

  21. I must admit that it took me a little while to get into this book. I loved the story about Ruby, but the story about Brenna got in the way initially and I just wanted to read more about Ruby, so the first few chapters of Brenna’s story were hard to read. Once I slowed down and started really reading the story, I fell in love with both Ruby and Brenna. They were both so brave and strong and an inspiration to the women of today.

    There were women like Brenna who went against their husbands and society to be brave and fight for what they believe in. There are still those types of women around today and I applaud them. I don’t know where they get their strength and self-confidence from -it’s so not me, but I’d like it to be.

    I felt that Anna Romer described the scenes in the book well without going over the top – sometimes it seems to me that so much time is spent on describing something that the story gets a little bit lost, but not in this case.

    My question to Anna is: Are you a brave, strong person like Brenna who stands up for and fights for what she believes in?

    Thank you so much for letting me review Lyrebird Hill. I absolutely loved it and have already passed it on to my mum to read >:o)

  22. I loved Lyrebird Hill – the mix of the present and past sent chills up my spine. I wanted to know more, see more, read more with every turn of the page. I love the way the book was written, it flows easily and I just fell in love with Ruby.

    I’d recommend this book to anyone as it was an amazing read.

    My Question for Anna is: When going from one era to another did you have to stop in order to go from the voice of the present to the voice of the past or did it flow together easily?

    Thanks.

  23. I have just finished reading Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer. Thank you to B&L and Simon & Schuster for giving me the chance to read this beautiful book. I love the cover of the book which captures your attention as we know from reading the back of the novel that there are two sisters in the story.

    This book revolves around a past and present which is always a bit daunting when you start reading but persevere and you then learn of the two main characters of Brenna and Ruby. I found myself drawn to the both of these characters and immediately they became so lifelike to me as I continued reading. I could visually see their surroundings as I have been to both Armidale and Coffs.

    Upon reading I wondered how Ruby & Brenna were going to be related to each other as it was Ruby who lost her sister but was unaware at how she died even though she was with her when it all happened. It’s not till the middle of the book that you find how they are related. I loved the character of Brenna, who suffered a lot in her time. I found myself wanting to read more of her character at first.

    I found this book to be easy to read as it had romance, mystery, secrets, characters that I disliked from the beginning and other characters that I warmed too straight away. I would find myself upset at times with characters and also bawling my eyes out at things that would happen in the story and then there would be anger and then smiles.

    I loved reading this book and found it very hard to put down once I got into the story and the characters. Beautifully written Anna, it certainly captured my attention from start to end. I feel like I have just watched a movie of this book as it seems to be staying in my mind still.

    To Anna, I would love to ask the question of when she is actually writing the novel, when it comes to scenes where the tribe were killed or when Pete was shot or animals hurt , do you actually shed tears as you write this? I ask this as I remember in High School where we had to write stories, whenever I wrote something sad, I would find myself with tears as I wrote.

  24. Thank you so much for the opportunity to review this new novel! I found it to be a nice uncomplicated read, something I’d take on holidays when I don’t need to concentrate too much.

    The dual storylines were an interesting way to narrate the story and I was keen to get to the part where the stories finally merged. Perhaps one of the most thought-provoking themes for me was the differing attitudes towards the indigenous population during early settlement. Few authors really want to tackle and acknowledge this, but I think the author managed to provide a real insight into this historical issue.

    So, in short, I’d recommend this as a good read for someone who doesn’t want something too taxing!

    1. I forgot to ask my question…How much time did you spend researching prior to writing this novel as there are clearly elements of historical fact within the text?

  25. I really loved this book & found it both enthralling & entertaining. Both of the main characters were strong & the descriptions of the landscape took me there everytime.Once started hard to put down but could pick up the storyline each time.Will recommend this book to my friends & family as a very good read.Thank you for giving me the chance to read it..
    My question to the Author : Do the ideas for a book come easy or do you have to work on them?

  26. Lyrebird Hill is a great read. It is a beautifully written novel that is very difficult to put down. It reveals family secrets from both past and present as you read about the lives of Ruby and Brenna. The author has the ability to make you warm immediately to these characters as they deal with tragic events that have taken place.
    There were twists and turns I didn’t see coming. Anna Romer’s first novel Thornwood House is now a must read for me/ Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this very enjoyable novel.

  27. Lyrebird Hill, a good title because the Lyrebird is apt at mimicking and taking on the sounds of other animals and making you believe you have heard something… when in fact it is something entirely different.

    It would seem that the author of this book was also very clever in taking a situation and allowing the readers mind to race ahead and make a number of assumptions while reading. I was intrigued from the start and hooked from the moment I was able to draw the correlations between 1898 and 2013.

    A very intricate story with blending and blurred hereditary storylines. Very real and believable that this could have happened which is always to me a better read.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a more intricate storyline. I believe this is a book worthy of being kept on the bookshelf when finished, I feel certain I will “see more” when I decide it is time to reread this book. A definite keeper and an now intrigued to look to other books written by Anna Romer. Thanks you for lighting up my night with a truly spellbinding tale.

    My question for Anna Romer: Was it your intention for this story to take on the traits of a Lyrebird and make us rethink that things are not always what we think they are…. even if we hear it that way?

  28. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I loved how the author incorporated the 1800 characters with today’s characters. So clever. I found it hard to put this novel down and wanted to continue to pick it up and read more and more of this gripping story.

    With such strong and interesting characters it is definitely one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure to read in a long time.

    The dysfunctional mother daughter relationship is something I can definitely relate to. Coming from a difficult background myself this book took me back to a difficult time in my own childhood.

    There were so many twists and turns I’m sure no-one else would have seen coming. I was kept entertainment and entranced throughout the whole read. .

    It must have been hard for Brenna to go against her husband and fight for what she truly believed in. I also was thrilled for her when she fell in love with a man so very different from her husband. One that was kind and generous not like the hard man she agreed to marry to save her beloved Lyrebird Hill. I will definitely recommend this book to all my friends and again I thank you for the opportunity to read such an amazing book.

    Great summer time read!

  29. I have just finished reading Lyrebird hill and thought it was a fantastic read. The storyline was well written and easy to follow. I loved how both stories intertwined and at the beginning of this book I preferred to ready the chapters for Ruby perspective, however towards the end Brenna’s chapters really drew me in. Her experiences and love that she felt was true and I felt like I could relate to her better. I really wished her true love Lucien had survived and that they lived happily ever after but that is life. The friendship that she forged with Adele is truly precious and this is proved when Adele sacrifices herself so that Brenna can raise her own child. I must admit I was a bit sad when I thought Brenna did past away in jail and it wasn’t until you read the final letter from Adele that it all comes together and you realise that those two women were the bestest of friends.

    I did have trouble believing that Ruby didn’t recognise her boyfriend of 3 years and that he was her sisters killer as surely she should of recognised him or put it together sooner.

    Overall the author Anna Romer wrote a beautiful novel and an enjoyable read. She really bought the characters to life and the landscapes that were described sounds just beautiful. I look forward to reading other books by Anna.

    1. HI Anne,
      My question for you is – who’s perspective did you prefer to write – Brenna’s or Ruby?

      Oh and one more – did you know how the story was going to end before you started writing, or did you go where the story was leading you?

  30. I had trouble getting into the start of the book, but was so glad that I persevered, as it was extremely well written and an absolute joy to read. The two stories of both Ruby and Brenna confused me at first, but made sense the more I read. It was beautifully written and I look forward to your next book. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  31. My question to the Author is:
    Who was your inspiration growing up as a child that helped influence your exceptional writing ability?

  32. I was intrigued and excited to read Lyrebird Hill and I must admit it took a little to get into the story but once I did I couldn’t put it down. Normally I hate going back and forth with characters but the way they intertwined was brilliant They were both such strong characters. The way it kept me in suspense with the twists and turns was spellbinding. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book. I loved Lyrebird hill and will recommend to friends and family can’t wait for your next book.

    My question for Anna Romer is What was the hardest thing about writing Lyrebird Hill?

  33. Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer.

    For me this book was an absolute pleasure to read and instantly I was drawn in by the descriptive language to describe the land and homeland of Lyrebird Hill that was so loved by both main characters. I was intrigued at the various pieces of the puzzle that made up the life of the character of Ruby and how the author Anna Romer had intertwined the past and present to continually keep you guessing.

    The parallels between the story of Brenna based in 1898 and Ruby in the present, where perfectly linked. I found that every chapter I read left me wanting to read more to discover the true connections between all of the characters.

    I was particularly interested to learn more about the Aboriginal family history in the book and cultural practices. This element could have been used to really draw in more readers and I was surprised to find no mention of it in the blurb.

    So this is where my question for the Anna Romer comes in, could you tell me a bit more about your research into the cultural references to the Aboriginal people in the area and if there was any direct historical content around the massacres described in the book?

    At times I found the characters a bit hard to keep up with with the alternating chapters however with any good book, I felt that I was dissolved into the plot and consumed to read more. Overall I would recommend this book to others and will definitely be passing it into other family members to read, so they can truly experience the strength and guidance that we can gain from the history of our families.

  34. Thank you for the opportunity to read and review Lyrebird Hill!

    I enjoyed this book. It’s what I would consider a good holiday book – the story grabbed me enough to keep me reading, and to give me a little ‘getaway’ from normal life while I was reading, but it wasn’t a life-changing book.
    The characters are well constructed, and as the reader we’re set up to empathise and connect with Ruby and Brenna, which I certainly did. But I found the contrast of the antagonistic characters of Rob and Carsen fairly unrealistic. I prefer characters with a bit more depth and complexity – with both good and bad sides to them (the person closest to having this in the book was Ruby’s mother, and I loved the way we were at first positioned to not particularly like her, but then as we learned more of her story we warmed to her towards the end).
    That being said, I loved the settings within the books, and the description of the native Australian bushland. I occasionally work in remote Aboriginal communities and loved reading stories from that timeline of the book! I would have liked to see a stronger link drawn to the lives of these people in modern times.
    I loved the character of Pete (and his dogs!), he seemed very genuine and understanding of Ruby’s situation.

    My question to the author: How did you go about researching for the storyline set in the past?

  35. HI Anne,
    My question for you is – who’s perspective did you prefer to write – Brenna’s or Ruby?

    Oh and one more – did you know how the story was going to end before you started writing, or did you go where the story was leading you?

  36. I really enjoyed the stories of these two women. It was well written and brought the characters to life.

    I would highly recommend to family and friends.

  37. “Lyrebird Hill” is predominately the story of Ruby, who is realising that the mystery surrounding the death of her sister when they were children is deeper and more complicated than she knew. Ruby’s perfect life is unravelling, and this forces her to look harder at what and who she was in the past – and why.

    Ruby’s journey of self discovery is interwoven with the story of her great grandmother, who wound up in jail for murder. How and why did that happen, and what bearing does it have on Ruby’s life?

    I found the first few pages of the novel rather awkward – supposedly they were words from a journal, but they didn’t ring true as words anyone would actually write in that situation. But once those half a dozen pages were past, I found both of the plot threads really engaging and interesting. The unfolding of the dual mysteries was really well handled, and kept me reading with a lot of eagerness to find out what would happen next.

    Ruby is a character a lot of people will empathise with, and if the denouement of the novel stretches credibility just a tad – well, fondness for Ruby will probably carry you past that. I really enjoyed this novel. It doesn’t have anything very new to say, but it’s well written and engaging, and encourages you to read it in a couple of sittings.

    A question for Anna: amnesia (or repressed memories) is such a frequently used plot device that it can easily tip into cliché or a cheap “get out of plot trouble” card. You avoided this, but when you started writing, did you consider any other plot structures because of this?

  38. Hi All – I like many others thoroughly love Lyrebird Hill. I really enjoyed the flicking between eras and characters – and the connections these characters had. The characters and their qualities were well thought out and we could see their personal development throughout the separate stories. I loved the Australian setting and themes that are still important historically for Australia. I did like the descriptions of animals but tired of this after a little while… not sure why – think I just wanted to know more about the characters & their problems. Loved the build up of tension & I really was keen to find out what happened next – for both characters. Thank you for the opportunity to read this great Australian story – will certainly be recommending it for others that love this type of storytelling!
    My question to Anna Romer – Did you purposely tie in the Lyrebird extinction from the area to highlight the extinction of the Aboriginal tribe from the same location – just in different times?
    Thanks for a great read

  39. What a great read!!
    From the moment I started I couldn’t put it down.
    I think being an Australian story made it more enjoyable.
    I would recommend this to anyone and I will definitely read more of
    Anne Romer novels as she writes them… 😀

  40. Thank you so much for letting me review this wonderfully written book.

    I was truly enchanted with Lyrebird Hill and all the characters in the two entwined stories. For the first time in my life I actually read a whole book, from start to finish, in one day. I was on the edge of the seat the whole time wondering what will happen next with the two lovable female characters. I was so engrossed in the story lines that I was completely unsuspecting of the very clever twist with Rob.

    I live in the Northern NSW so I have traveled on the same roads as the characters. I found the roughed scenery beautifully and passionately described. I love books written about Australia and feel that this one was really well researched as I felt I was truly transported into the harsh times of the 1900’s feeling compassion for the tough decisions the characters has to make just to survive and for the ill treated Aboriginal people.

    I have already recommended this beautiful book to my family, friends and congratulated Anna Romer on her facebook page. I can’t wait to read Anna’s first book:)

    My question for Anna:
    Who is your favourite character from Lyrebird Hill?

    Thank you 🙂

  41. I want to say Thank You to Beauty & Lace for allowing me to be a part of this review team and would like to apologise for my late review. I spent 4 days with a migraine and couldn’t even pick up the book…so I am sorry.

    Lyrebird Hill is an amazing book to read. I fell into the stories of Ruby and Brenna immediately and hated when my eyes got sleepy because I just wanted to keep reading. I loved reading the Ruby parts and having the knowledge and images of what went on at Lyrebird Hill in the past. It was awesome having the ability to know the history of the property….I have wanted to know the history/past of so many places I’ve lived and seen but rarely you get this chance.

    I loved Brenna’s connection with the Aboriginals and her love for her family but hated the decision she had to make to keep her Dad financial…I felt enormously sorry for her married to Carsten, when the ‘real’ Carsten showed himself…he was a really mean-spirited, hurtful person. I loved Brenna’s strength but I know I would not have stuck around. I was very happy that she found love with another.

    Ruby’s character reminded me of an old fashioned school teacher, the way she was described, quiet, reserved, owns a library (I understand her passion as I love books). From this description, her relationship with Rob did not quite fit for me and I was a little suss about hi from the beginning ….but in saying that I was not prepared for the twist…

    I loved reading about the Australian countryside and reading how the Indigenous were treated was appalling. I loved how Anna used the Aboriginal dialogue in her writing….especially ‘bunna’ I’ve heard that quite a bit from close Aboriginal friends….I never understood what the word meant but in the context it’s used I imagine it means friend/dear/honey….? Don’t know though.

    Anna was able to write a very descriptive story where I was able to have a running movie going on inside my head as I was reading the story.

    Pete is a wonderful, warm and charming character that I fell in love with too. He sounds perfect.

    I really didn’t want the story to end as I enjoyed it so much and I’m passing it to my Mum to borrow so she can read it as I told her it was so good. 5 stars out of 5.

    My question to Anna….Anna did you have to study the Aboriginal language to be able to use some of their words and be able to write in the disjointed way the Indigenous talk (how they miss certain words in a sentence)? And please…what does ‘bunna” mean?

  42. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was like two stories in one novel and each story would’ve been a great novel on its own. My only problem was that it was a bit hot and cold. I’d read one chapter about Brenna’s life, get to the end wanting to know what would happen next, then the next chapter would be about Ruby and it would take a few pages for me to get into her story again. I would rather have had Brenna’s full story first, then Ruby’s. I would still have understood the connection between the two.

    I kept changing my mind about who I thought killed Jaime throughout the book and never guessed the right person. It took me totally by surprise when I find out.

    I enjoyed the ending, it was great to find out that Ruby finally ended up not feeling guilt and managed to get on with her life.

    My question to the author is probably a bit out there, but it’s been bugging me. When Brenna first moved to Brayer House she went for a walk and found a graveyard, she sat down to do some painting and a stray growling dog showed up, she threw her food for it to eat. I kept waiting for the dog to return, like they would become friends or something, but it never happened. My question is why did you put the dog in the book?

  43. My question to Anna is which character did you feel more connected with? I have heard authors speak and some have said they feel a Certain connection with some characters.

    I have to say I really enjoyed reading Lyrebird Hill. and have already recommended it to freinds and colleagues .i love reading novels with strong characters and both Brenna and Ruby are that. Able to overcome the tragic events they have experienced. The dual story lines I loved and couldn’t wait to see how the stories would merge in the end The twist I never saw coming either . Congratulations Anna on a wonderful book! Thank you B&L for giving me the opportunity to read it.

  44. First off, a BIG thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this fantastic novel. I was definitely engrossed the entire time of reading the novel and simply did not want to put it down!

    Lyrebird Hill is a powerful read and has a big element of mystery within the story. I quite enjoyed the dual narratives of Ruby and Brenna being interwoven as I felt like I was moving between two times in life. Both stories were very powerful and beautifully written by Romer, easily seeing the connection between the two characters.

    I really enjoyed how the whole mystery was based on a property and all the secrets lied within its inhabitants and Ruby’s return to the property was the catalyst for the secrets to be uncovered and for wrongs to be made right.

    I felt for Ruby’s character – trying to live a normal life after her sister’s death which all comes crashing down on her when she discovers that her sister’s death was not an accident and the property she lived on may have been cursed.

    Lyrebird Hill is therefore a story of mystery, discovery, and redemption, with an atmosphere marked by tension, forbidden love, obsession and suspicion.
    A definite chilling read and one that I will read over and over again.

    My question to the author is:

    What made you write about this particular theme? It was definitely a complex, multi-layered mystery of events and I wondered if you had a connection to this storyline by past experience. The story really intrigued me and I could relate to some of the themes. Well done on a fantastic novel!

  45. An addictive read which I would highly recommend.
    Characters are relatable and plot is fascinating.
    Do NOT read this at night – you will end up with a book hangover.lol
    I enjoyed the setting being in Australia – it gave me a great connection. I would highly recommend this. 4/5 stars!

  46. Well written and addictive. Finally found time to read this.
    Anna was able to describe the setting vividly like you and gives the reader strong female characters that will keep you engaged. Good read and I probably need to go back and read this again.
    Probably time to investigate the author’s other books and stock up for the Christmas break.

  47. I read this book and couldn’t put it down. I only left it for awhile because I was a bit tired when I started reading it and fell asleep. First thing I did when I woke up was continue reading it.

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