Book Club: Running Against The Tide

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Author: Amanda Ortlepp
ISBN: 9781925030631
RRP: $32.99

Amanda Ortlepp returns after the success of her debut, Claiming Noah, which we read for book club and I loved.

Running Against The Tide sees Erin pack up her sons and leave Sydney for the small town of Mallee Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, she remembered holidaying nearby as a child and the place holds happy memories – and it’s far from the mess that is her marriage.

The house is a little rundown, the town is a little small and Erin begins to wonder what she has gotten herself in for. Her teenaged sons are not thrilled with the move, Mike is happy to make the best of the situation but Ryan is not so accommodating.

Erin arrives in Mallee Bay with more emotional baggage than actual baggage and it is only slowly that events are revealed to explain her move to South Australia.

Her arrival also coincides with a run of oyster thefts and an arson that have fingers pointing in all directions but no real evidence backing up suspicions. The storytelling is compelling with some unexpected twists and enough red herrings to keep you guessing until the end.

The small town characters are engaging and I loved getting to know them. Erin’s neighbours are Jono and Helen, the elderly couple are friendly enough and have always lived in Mallee Bay; Jono is an oyster farmer who inherited the farm from his father. The couple are childless and getting to know them and their story is heartwarming and restores faith in love that lasts forever.


I feel like there are many different character types in the story and it was interesting to see the way they interacted, the way that different people brought out completely different sides to illustrate how multi-faceted most people are and how important it is not to judge on one persons opinion because you may bring out a different side to them.

Fifteen year old Ryan is quite a complicated character and the glimpse we get past his exterior completely changes the perception of him; and he was not the only character I came to question my perceptions of through the storytelling of the talented Ortlepp.

I was captured by the scenery and the characters of Mallee Bay; I wanted to keep reading to find out where we would be taken next. Some of the behaviour of characters didn’t sit right with me but it wasn’t enough to affect my enjoyment of the story.

Running Against The Tide was a compelling offering by Amanda Ortlepp that cemented my opinion of her as a must read Australian author. The book is a gripping tale of addiction, new beginnings, consequences and the danger of perceptions; a book that I enjoyed and would recommend to readers who like a suspenseful family drama.

Running Against The Tide is Book #3 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 30 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Running Against the Tide so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter.

32 thoughts on “Book Club: Running Against The Tide

  1. I wasn’t sure when I first started reading this book if I was going to enjoy it, but gradually the characters and the writing style drew me in. Overall I enjoyed the book, however it didn’t leave a lasting impression.

    Erin and her two sons Mike and Ryan have left their family home and moved back to the small town on the Eyre Peninsula where she grew up. The house they move into is dilapidated and not at all what they have been used to. Mike, the older son, seems determined to make the best of the situation, Ryan, the younger son, seems determined to be miserable. Their new neighbours are old but friendly and on discovering that Erin paints encourage her to enter a painting in the town art show. Entries for the art show close the next day, with judging only a couple of days after that, and the first prize is $1000.00.

    From this unlikely start the story moves to intrigue, theft, grudges, allegations, domestic violence, gambling addiction, stalking, arson and attempted murder. Along the way we discover things about Ryan and gain an understanding of his character. Although we never really get to understand why Ryan has so little awareness of the issues between his parents that resulted in their separation.

    At times the story became disjointed and far fetched and I did not find Amanda Ortlepp to be as compelling a story teller as the blurb on her book suggests. However the book was an easy read and overall quite enjoyable.

  2. Running Against The Tide is the second novel from Sydney-based writer, Amanda Ortlepp (Claiming Noah). It’s also an intense mystery that stars a strong woman named Erin Travers. She is a lady that has packed up her life and two teenage sons into a car and travelled from NSW to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia in order to leave an abusive relationship. It’s a relevant and timely story that offers some real food for thought in our contemporary society where prejudice is common and domestic violence figures are high.

    Ortlepp has done an excellent job of creating a complex story that is almost like an onion. It’s a slow and nuanced tale that reveals Travers’ narrative little-by-little as well as the troubling events that occur in the small and sleepy close-knit town of Mallee Bay, which is known for its oyster farming. Ortlepp writes well and offers very descriptive prose and rich characterisation of the Travers family and their neighbours, Jono and Helen. But while there is some darkness and drama to the story, there are some points where it is a little too slowly paced to retain the reader’s attention and the ending was far too rushed.

    Running Against The Tide is a realistic book that will have readers wanting to know what actually happened and who’s responsible for some troubling events in the town (like arson and theft). It’s a story that will keep you on your toes and leave you guessing as prejudices and fractured relationships are the order of the day. It also means the reader’s own prejudices will colour their view and interpretation of this Aussie whodunit. Clever stuff.

  3. Running Against the tide is a second novel written by Amanda Ortlepp. I haven’t read her first novel and after reading Running against the tide I am definitely going to pick up her first novel as I absolutely loved the style of her writing. Running against the tide also has a preview chapter of her first book (Claiming Noah) at the back to give you a taste of Claiming Noah.

    This was really a great read. I just wanted to finish reading the book in one sitting. The story just flowed and felt like as if I was watching a movie instead of reading a book. The author described each and every scene with great talent. Nothing was over exaggerated and everything just flowed like a movie scene.
    This book is a thriller, a mystery and you just want to keep on reading to see what happens next or to know who did that?

    The story covers reality subjects ie Divorce,separation ,single mothers , starting out a new life ,theft,arson,gambling etc which a lot of people could relate to their own lives . This book taught me so much. First of all we judge someone by their behaviour but deep down they can be totally different and not what we would expect.
    For example the characters played by Ryan, how in the beginning we feel that Ryan is a troubled teenager but in the end it is revealed that he isn’t too bad just wants someone to talk to him and listen to him. Also character played by Puff, just because he has a tattoo all over his chest doesn’t mean he is bad , he turns out to be a pretty good character. The character played by Gavin, he is portrayed to be handsome,cute,charming but it is revealed in the end that you cant just trust someone by the looks.
    It teaches me that communication is key in every relationships be it husband to wife or mother to child . Communication can prevent a lot of problems.

    The author has done her research very well when writing this book . Topics covered ie Oyster Farming are described in so much depth. I found that quite interesting to read and learnt a few new things about Oyster farming.

    There is a lot of suspense in this book and slowly by slowly the answers to the suspense are revealed. Therefore this book keeps you on your toes and keeps you wanting to read more and more in order t reveal the suspense.

    I love the multitude of characters . So many characters in this book and each character just enriches this book . I really loved the character played by Jono the neighbour. It just relates to my life and I remember the time when we moved to a small town in QLD in Rockhampton where we didn’t know anyone. I had the pleasure to meet a neighbour who was so similar to Jono. It was as if the author knew about my neighbour Kevin and wrote about him.

    The ending is quite unexpected and sad. The death of a character was taken so simply and not elaborated..
    There are a few questions unanswered . For example what did really happen to Erin”s wrist .Who bruised it?
    I love that this story is set in Australia . I could just imagine myself living in Malee Bay in South Australia.

    I think this is great book for all ages. Young old , if you love a mystery or thrillers then this book will be great for you.

  4. Erin is a newly separated mother of two teenage boys.
    She leaves the bright lights of Sydney and moves to the seemingly idyllic Eyre Peninsula. One of her sons fits in well and the other, not so much.
    For me the book is not about new beginnings but about first impressions. Are people always who they seem?
    Sometime a little predictable but overall well written and informative ( I enjoyed learning a little about Oyster Farming) I did feel like there were a few unnecessary relationships ie Ryan and his father.. it didn’t add anything for me.
    Heartbreaking and at times quite scary, I felt like the end left many issues unresolved. But overall I enjoyed the latest offering from Amanda Ortlepp.

  5. Having read Amanda’s first novel Claiming Noah I was very excited to have the opportunity to review her new novel.
    The book did not disappoint. I was kept guessing the whole way through which is what I love in a novel.
    Every single twist and turn was well written and very believable.
    I feel like a lot of people could relate to Erin’s story. She runs away with her sons to try to escape her marriage.
    What unfolds in the Eyre peninsula is great and sure kept me guessing.
    I really hope Amanda writes another novel as she is a fantastic author.
    Thank you so much for the opportunity to review another fantastic book.

  6. What an enjoyable read! Although it took me a few chapters to get into it, it didn’t take long and then I was hooked! I did not want to put the novel down!

    I immediately recognised the author when I received the book. Claiming Noah was absolutely fantastic and I have to say that novel went straight up in my top 5 best reads ever!

    Running Against the Tide was full of twists and turns and secrets popped up from everywhere! This was why I was hooked – I just wanted to know everything about the characters.

    I really felt for Erin throughout the novel. From her ex, to her hard to manage son Ryan, to her stalker ex-boyfriend. How much can a woman take???

    Jono and Helen were absolutely gorgeous. The love they had for each other just warmed my heart. I have to say all the characters were fantastic and so believable – even psycho Gavin!

    The ending was bittersweet but really left me wanting more. I would love Amanda to write a sequel so I know how Erin and Puff continue in their exciting relationship and how the bond between Erin and Ryan develops.

    Thank you so much Beauty & Lace for yet another great read and giving me the opportunity to review it!

  7. Thank you Beauty and Lace for another wonderful book to read.

    Amanda Ortlepp has done it again by giving us another fantastic book.

    Right from the start I found myself drawn into the life of Erin and her sons moving to begin their new life on the Eyre Peninsula.

    Erin has just ended a bad marriage and is keen to start a new life for her and her sons Michael and Ryan so she heads to a place where she spent many happy holidays, Mallee Bay.

    Here is where she hopes life will be ok and new beginnings will come along.
    There are some wonderful characters we meet along the way and each has their own story which is worked in really well.
    As each character told his story is was easy to follow along and it all blended really well.
    I did find that it was easy to work out who the stalker was although the ending to that story line was not what I was expecting.

    I did really love the book but felt that there were a lot of unanswered questions. Who knows maybe that’s another story.

    I would recommend this book to friends for sure as it is a wonderful story of life, love, standing up for yourself and being strong.

  8. Running Against the Tide by Amanda Ortlepp

    Not a book that I would usually read. I’m a great “judge a book by its cover” kind of person but I was really surprised by this book. Holidaying often on the peninsula myself it was a really accurate depiction of the rural towns.

    I could simply not put this book down. I “binge read” it in 2 days. I was obsessed with finding out who was causing all this trouble. I was sure through the whole book that the stalker was Erin’s ex-husband and the troublemaker was her youngest son, and I could not believe the ending!

    I felt that the death of her sister was skimmed over a little too breifly and a few questions lingered for me. Like did she stay with puff/what happened? How is Jono’s health, Did Ryan ever see his father again? Did knowing the truth about his father help Ryan with his issues about moving away?
    But I always remain a little hopeful that there will be a sequel.

    Over all I loved the story and will definitely tell everyone I know to start reading it

    1. I too have just finished reading this marvellous book, one I had to keep going with…. This story highlights life at present amongst a lot of women, in fact in parts it portrays my own former life. Violence against women is predominently in the news, so it is a great topic to read abou t someone else and how they managed. To escape Erin goes back to her wonderful childhood growing up in an oyster town, believing that all will be just as wonderful again in her life, with her two sons, but I notice.that. nowhere does it ask her boys, do they want to go with her,or stay with the father, and throughout the story I get the impression that the you nger one did not want to leave his dad. In the course of many segments in the book even “borrowing his mothers winnings” to forge the cheque and give to his dad, he clung to this ideal, only at the finish to find his mum was right, and the father was an “error in her judgement” gambling being his true forte… Hard less to learn, but the you nger son Ryan did learn it.. Erin”s past does catch up with her, and a small clue is given half way thru, that I have to admit I missed as such. The story unfolds in segments, each coming to be part of the story, and relating to the whole. The way she has been caught, at the end, and is with her sister is breathtaking, and I had to sit and wonder more in this section as to whether they both would survive. The story then has the unusual twist that one does not… not like most stories…. but leaves many questions unanswered … Fortunately her you nger son does get a message from her, on her mobile, and even thought this is eventually taken from her, by her “would be” killer, it gives the police enough of a lead to be able to track down where it was last used, and so a rescue is obtained. Have to admit have never read a story that used a mobile, like this, but it is part I guess of todays world. I have not read about this author before, but certainly will now be chasing up to get her first book Noah.. and I do hope that some day another sequel to this book can be written… Like does Ryan stay working with Jono the oyster man and his own brother, does mum remarry? does the elder son stay oyster fishing with Ryan and Jono or does he go off to another place and start some other way.. My thanks go out to whoever choose me to be able to read it, as well as others. I have passed the book on to my daughter to read, and she in turn will pass to her friends, so the au thor will be widely known by many people….

  9. What a fantastic read! Having read Claing Noah, I was eager to find out what ‘ Running Against The Tide’ was like. Amanda Ortlepp dioesn’t disappoint.
    Once I started reading I found it difficult to put down. I wanted to know what would happen next.
    I loved the storyline /plot, an Australian family drama covering many topical and very current issues, including, divorce, single parenthood, domestic violence, relationships etc, all set in a small Australian town.
    Great characters, great story, one that ends with many questions left unanswered and the thought that there might/ could be a sequel.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book and congratulations Amanda Ortlepp on another great book.

  10. I was excited to read and review Running Against the Tide as I thoroughly enjoyed Amanda Ortlepp’s debut novel Claiming Noah last year. My favourite aspect of Running Against the Tide however was the setting in rural, coastal South Australia. Ortlepp’s evocative descriptions of the landscape are fabulous and the natural setting suited the storyline well also. I loved learning about oyster farming, about which I previously knew nothing.

    This new novel certainly presented mystery, intrigue and multiple plot twists as Erin and her family start their new life. The motley crew of characters gave the book great depth. The crime spree certainly shook things up in sleepy Mallee Bay! One of the messages of the book for me was that it is never wise to make assumptions. As in Claiming Noah, Ortlepp explores a number of complex issues in this novel with skill and insight that is all too rare in our society.

    Another delightful book (aside from that scary crazy-man towards the end that is!) from Amanda Ortlepp, and i wonder what she will turn her hand to next. I look forward to finding out. Thanks Beauty and Lace, and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review. I might go book my next holidy – a road trip to Mallee Bay perhaps?

  11. What an enthralling book my congratulations to the author Amanda Ortlepp for such a great storyline.
    Set in such a wonderful area that she described so well you could picture yourself immersed in the landscape watching the story unfold.
    The characters were all strong in their own right showing a mother that would do anything to protect her family & a strongwilled teenager with a few issues including the pain of hormonal changes as he starts his journey to become a man & separation from the father figure but will surely come out the other side a better person.All the characters I enjoyed & feel made the book more enjoyable.
    With the mystery twist & turns the plot thickened & surprisingly I hope for another instalment to see what happens next.
    Thank you for the chance to read this delightful book.

  12. really enjoyed this book I love a book where the writing allows me to visualise the story as it happens. Most definately a page turner which I couldn’t put down – took me a while to get to this book which is very unlike me but so very glad that I did – highly recommended

  13. Sorry for my late review….this book has been to Houston, New Orleans, Arizona and Utah….and back to Australia.
    Amanda Ortlepp is a good Australian author and her first book Claiming Noah was equally as gripping as Running with the Tide. I believe many readers who read this genre will enjoy this book,
    I absolutely loved the Running with the Tide.. It was a really great story and I found it hard to put down at night – not much housework was done until the book was finished 🙂

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